10 Things to Watch: Seattle

10 Things To Watch: Seattle

Chad Reed vs. Ryan Dungey

We’ve seen plenty of aggression in the 250SX East Region this year, but in St. Louis we saw a bit of it in 450SX with Chad Reed and Ryan Dungey. Reed believes it was Dungey who caused the big pileup the week before that left scrapes all over Reed’s backside, and seemed to show his disapproval somewhat in the heat race. Dungey, who felt Reed had needlessly moved over on him in the whoops, shared his opinion in his television interview. And of course in the main Reed, who was a lap down, didn’t seem to make any attempt to get out of Dungey’s way for several laps as he was trying to track down Eli Tomac. It’s enough to make you wonder what might happen if the two find each other on the track again in Seattle. –Aaron Hansel

Team Orders

There’s been plenty of bench racing regarding possible team orders at Red Bull KTM, but there hasn’t been much evidence of it on the racetrack. Marvin Musquin beat Dungey as recently as Detroit (as well as the week before in Indianapolis), but Dungey turned the tables and beat him in St. Louis. Maybe Musquin was laying up, but Dungey at one point was going even faster than race-winner Eli Tomac, so it sure seems like Dungey pulled away just based on his own quick pace. With the season winding down and Dungey’s lead steadily shrinking, team orders are definitely something to look for, but so far they don’t seem to be in play. –Hansel

The Shakeup

There’s always a threat of rain in the Pacific Northwest, and according to the weather report, that threat is pretty strong for this weekend in Seattle. The rain couldn’t come at a more interesting time either—Dungey’s once large points lead is down to just four over a surging Tomac. The unpredictability of a mudder could provide the break Dungey needs right now, but it could go the other way and hurt him drastically. Or it could have no effect at all! No matter what, it’s an uncontrollable variable that’s likely to have everyone’s attention this weekend. -Hansel

Can Justin Hill pick up where he left off?
Can Justin Hill pick up where he left off? Rich Shepard

Western Refresher

With the 250SX West Region resuming this Saturday night in Seattle, it’s time for a quick refresher on the state of the region. After watching Shane McElrath win the first two races, Justin Hill started surging and collected the next three wins. McElrath hung in there with podiums but had a disastrous night in Arlington when he had a mechanical problem and finished last (he was leading at the time). Hill went on to win, his fourth straight, and now holds a 21-point lead over Aaron Plessinger in second, and 25 on McElrath. With just three races remaining Hill is looking good for a title, but as we’ve seen so far, anything can happen, especially if the rain makes for a sloppy Seattle. –Hansel

Podium Push

Jimmy Decotis has been pretty good this season—he’s led laps and has been tantalizingly close to the podium several times. In post-race interviews he’s been very candid about how much he wants to get on the podium, something he has yet to do in his career, and being so close (he was fourth in Oakland and Arlington), yet not quite there, has got to be a mixed bag of encouragement and frustration. He’ll have another chance to check that box this Saturday night. -Hansel 

Looking for Signs

The Autotrader.com/JGR Suzuki team is looking for something, anything, to build on, as the season has turned to disaster ever since Weston Peick’s strong start to the season ended at round four. Justin Barcia is supposed to be the team’s hope, so any signs of life there are welcome. There was something last weekend, as Barcia’s #51 popped up to the top of the scoring board during qualifying not once, but twice. That’s some old-fashioned Barcia speed (remember, he won a 450SX race in Seattle once) but he mixed it with old-fashioned Barcia style when he took out himself and Alex Ray in a semi for no real reason. Which version of old-school Barcia shows up in Seattle this weekend? –Jason Weigandt

Inside the Rut

Seven years ago, Broc Tickle took his first-ever 250SX career victory on a rutted, rough Seattle track. What we learned then, and what we still know now, is that Tickle is tough when the conditions are tough. He’s also been surging lately, with 8-7-8 finishes in the last three races to back up his podium in Toronto. Don’t expect Broc to do anything crazy or flashy in Seattle, but don’t be surprised if he puts in a solid result. –Weigandt

Can Barcia get things rolling for JGR?
Can Barcia get things rolling for JGR? Rich Shepard

More Mookie

Heat race Mookie finally showed up in a main event in St. Louis, as Malcolm Stewart, blazing fast in most heat races this year, finally showed some sizzle in the big race. He worked his way up to fifth before getting passed by Josh Grant, but was headed for a sixth until he fell at the end of the race. Still a massive sign of improvement from him considering he has only had one top-10 finish before this. Can heat race Mookie do it in the main event again? –Weigandt

Quietly

Josh Grant isn’t getting the headlines that his race-winning teammate Eli Tomac is, but he’s been riding damn well lately on his Monster Energy Kawasaki, including a season-best fifth last weekend, where he won in a big duel with about six other riders. Grant’s no longer the wild man that he was in his early days, but as the tail gunner for Kawasaki’s attack, he’s doing his job and doing it well. Can he keep it in the top five again this weekend? –Weigandt

Eli Tomac

Look, the Reed/Dungey dustup and the “Will the KTM guys help Dungey?” question has stolen a lot of headlines, but the bottom line is Eli Tomac is the fastest, toughest, strongest rider in the sport right now, by far. He’s won five races in a row and seven of the last nine. This is full beast mode and while the championship situation is certainly interesting, it’s also cool to step back and watch a man at the top of his game. Even if he doesn’t get the title, we’ve certainly seen Eli hit his stride, and it’s been a thing of beauty to watch. –Weigandt