Sign of the (Lap) Times: Arlington

Sign of the (Lap) Times Arlington

While we dropped the “Everything’s bigger in Texas” slogan a couple times last week, the track definitely wasn’t. Two sets of fast whoops and only one triple allowed lap times to dip into the low 50-second range. But does that really matter? With the new timed racing format, we still got 20 minutes of racing on a deceptive track and even saw a pit stop or two! This track was exactly why the 20-minute plus one format was implemented. Using Marvin Musquin’s average lap time of 50.018, we would have only seen 16 minutes and 40.2 seconds of racing under the old 20-lap format.

Let’s dive into the lap data to figure out how these races were won and lost with this week’s Sign of the Lap Times. First, our traditional lap time charts.

450SX Class Lap Times

Lap Rank Finish Best Lap In Lap Avg Lap Time Rider
1 1st 48.054 2 50.018 Marvin Musquin
2 14th 48.613 2 50.684 Cooper Webb
3 15th 48.914 3 53.582 Eli Tomac
4 3rd 48.991 10 50.218 Jason Anderson
5 2nd 49.180 7 50.116 Cole Seely
6 4th 49.194 6 50.370 Ryan Dungey
7 5th 49.411 11 50.713 Dean Wilson
8 9th 49.456 5 52.122 Justin Bogle
9 8th 49.665 6 50.538 Davi Millsaps
10 17th 49.709 7 51.657 Blake Baggett
11 7th 49.766 12 51.371 Jake Weimer
12 11th 49.810 2 52.072 Trey Canard
13 19th 49.882 8 51.426 Chad Reed
14 6th 50.057 11 51.101 Broc Tickle
15 10th 50.935 3 52.571 Malcolm Stewart
16 12th 51.013 7 53.078 Vince Friese
17 13th 51.252 7 53.094 Mike Alessi
18 20th 51.945 3 55.029 Alex Ray
19 21st 52.107 5 53.580 Cade Clason
20 18th 52.288 7 56.170 Austin Politelli
21 16th 52.778 3 56.003 Jimmy Alberston
22 22nd DNS DNS DNS Justin Brayton

250SX Class Lap Times

Lap Rank Finish Best Lap In Lap Avg Lap Time Rider
1 22nd 48.970 2 49.899 Shane McElrath
2 3rd 49.386 7 50.467 Aaron Plessinger
3 1st 49.448 3 50.459 Justin Hill
4 2nd 49.681 6 50.525 Austin Forkner
5 4th 49.824 3 51.292 Jimmy Decotis
6 7th 50.029 10 51.669 Martin Davalos
7 6th 50.186 10 51.399 Jeremy Martin
8 5th 50.385 9 51.302 Dan Reardon
9 8th 50.883 4 52.801 Cole Martinez
10 9th 51.058 4 53.161 Hayden Mellross
11 12th 51.173 7 53.725 Ryan Surratt
12 10th 51.359 4 53.253 Kyle Chisholm
13 16th 51.540 2 55.105 Killian Auberson
14 11th 51.750 5 53.467 Noah McConahy
15 13th 51.890 3 54.183 Justin Hoeft
16 14th 51.959 4 54.377 AJ Catanzaro
17 15th 52.350 3 54.378 Justin Starling
18 19th 52.913 5 56.452 Chase Marquier
19 17th 52.919 4 55.785 Scott Champion
20 18th 53.253 10 55.602 Chris Alldredge
21 21st 53.573 5 57.889 Chris Howell
22 20th 53.624 5 57.407 Broc Shoemaker

As the series moves east across the U.S. and we get away from California, we start to see drastic changes in dirt from week to week, and going from Oakland to Arlington might be the most drastic change of the year. We went from soft, rutty, rain-soaked dirt to a hard-packed track in Dallas. Take a look at how much more consistent the lap times for the top three were in Arlington compared to Oakland.

Oakland

Arlington

Note that the top three in Arlington were significantly more consistent with their lap times compared to Oakland’s rut fest. It’s no surprise that riders are able to be more consistent on dirt that changes less drastically throughout the main event. What might surprise you is the difference slippery vs. tacky dirt can also have on the rider’s heart rate. Aldon Baker has told us over the years that a rider’s heart rate will be higher on a track with tacky dirt because they are able to brake and accelerate so much harder. When the track is slick, the riders can’t gas or brake as hard, and that actually leads to saving energy. Plus, imagine how much strength is needed when fighting through the ruts on a track like Oakland. So consistent dirt and a lower heart rate equals out for a much flatter line on the graph.

Also, take a look at the difference in average lap times from Oakland to Arlington for the entire field. The difference in averages from first to last in Oakland was nearly 10 seconds, compared to Arlington, which was only 6 seconds. Tricky conditions create big separation. Remember that time when Ricky Carmichael lapped the whole field at the Spring Creek National? It was a mud race.

In the 250 Class we saw Justin Hill take his fourth win in a row and a dejected Shane McElrath rolling around the track with a bike malfunction, trying to salvage as many points as possible. While that drama was happening up front, Jeremy Martin and Aaron Plessinger were dealing with their own drama, but it wasn’t as surprising. Yet again, they both got terrible starts and had to charge through the pack. Take a look at each of their starts for the entire season.

Luckily for us, the camera was focused on Plessinger as he sliced he way through the pack. We got to follow him as he made his was from 11th to fifth. You might think that he made all of these passes in the whoops where he looked significantly faster than everyone, but he actually made most of his passes in the rhythm section before the whoops. Since the 250 riders went two-two to start the rhythm, Plessinger was staying low in the corner before the section which allowed him to pull up next to whoever was in front of him and control the next corner going into the triple. He made five passes there. An interesting note about the whoops, though. When Plessinger blew by Jimmy Decotis he was a full 1.07 seconds faster than him from the entrance of the first set to the last whoop of the second set. Just last week, Decotis was using the rutted whoops in Oakland to make up ground on McElrath while fighting for a podium. When the tracks and dirt change, so does everything else!