Were back in Salt Lake City, UT for the first time since 2013. Supercross is also back after a one week break and the riders are feeling refreshed. The beautiful mountains sitting beyond the stadium give it a similar feel to Sam Boyd Stadium in Las Vegas, except these mountains get snow. It’s been raining for several days leading up to the race, but today we have a perfect blue bird day in the state of sports. You can check out how to watch the action from tonight here.
Ryan Dungey and Eli Tomac are currently tied for points so they will both be repping the red plate tonight and the tension is high. I spoke with Ryan Dungey yesterday about his thoughts on the current state of the championship and how’s feeling about everything. You can read it here.
Forkner is back this week after sustaining a hip injury from a practice crash a few weeks ago. I spoke to his mechanic Olly Stone at the Scott goggle party last night and he said Mitch told Forkner not to ride until the soreness went away. Olly also mentioned that with it being the end of the supercross season, they don’t want to push it too much before the start of outdoors because if you go into the season already hurting, it’s not going to be good. They considered just waiting until motocross season to come back, but they want to use the last few supercrosses to get Forkner even better for next year.
Someone who will be sitting out the rest of the supercross season to be ready for outdoors is Jeremy Martin. Martin has been out due to a herniated disc in his back and hasn’t had the best supercross season this year. The GECIO Honda team put out a press release yesterday.
Christian Craig will be filling in on the Honda HRC team this weekend with both Cole Seely and Ken Roczen sidelined. For the full list of who’s in and who’s out, you can read the Injury report here.
First Timed Practices
The TLD KTM boys of Mitchell Oldenburg and Shane McElrath lead the session at first. Oldenburg is fired up after his first podium in Seattle. Hill swooped the top spot early. The session was pretty quiet as this top three didn’t change after the third lap. The track is looking pretty one lined and with the football stadium layout here at Rice-Eccles stadium the track is pretty short with the best lap times dropping into the 47’s. During his post-practice interview, Hill said the track is bit rocky with some weird edges.” He made some gearing changes between practices and is looking smooth as always. Hill, McElrath, Oldenburg, Plessinger, Forkner, Davalos, Reardon, Decotis, Chisolm, Mellross your top 10.
Lots of riders going into the mechanic’s area the first timed 450 session to talk to their team. Lots of talk about gearing going on today. Dungey was in and out of the mechanic’s area repeatedly adjusting his shock. He also struggled in the whoops. Dungey sat 13th fastest until three minutes to go and then he jumped to third, which is where he stayed. Craig however, is flying in the whoops. He was the first to triple the section after the whoops today, but it forces you to go outside before the start straight. We’ll have to see how that line develops. The 250’s were in the 47’s whereas the 450’s dipped into the 45’s. Expect to see a lot of laps tonight. Tomac was fastest. Tomac, Grant, Dungey, Musquin, Craig, Anderson, Bogle, Baggett, Brayton, Wilson your top 10.
Second Timed Practices
Lots of changes on the board throughout the session. That is for second place down. Hill lead the whole session. Hill was the first 250 of the day to triple out of the corner in the section before the finish. Most are wheel tapping the second to get over the third, but tripling is almost a second a lap faster. Plessinger was the next to follow. Forkner saw Hill doing it and then sized it up for a few laps. When Forkner did finally go for it he came up short after a bad drive out of the corner, cased it, launched from one side of the track to the other, and nearly went off the track before saving it. Chris Howell went down at the end of the first rhythm, but went back out.
Dungey made sure to get out front first in the session followed by Justin Brayton and Tomac. The first whoop looked pretty chewed up and so there was lots of riders jumping through them instead of blitzing, especially on the left side. Dungey does not look comfortable in the whoops this weekend. Alex Ray washed the front in a corner, but was fine.
This was a pretty exciting practice to watch as the leader board was constantly changing. Musquin, Dungey swapped a few times before Tomac took it on lap eight. During practice most riders will throw down one or two heaters and then take a breather lap before trying again. Not Tomac. He beat his previous lap nearly every single lap until it was over. Where he lives and trains in Colorado is at a similar elevation so he may have a bit of an advantage over the rest of the field as we are at over 4,000 feet the air is thin and makes it tougher to breathe.
Dungey finished the second session in second, but Grant's time was faster in the first session so Grant qualified second fastest overall.
Towards the end of practice Adam Enticknap came off the finish super nose high, cased it, and then went off the track onto the start straight. The seven-deuce-deuce was ok.
250 Heat One: Martin Castelo, Stone Edler, and Bradley Lionnet for the top three off the start. Martin Davalos jumped to the front right before the finish on the first lap and pulled away. Castelo went down in the corner after the whoops on the second lap. Tyler Bowers who is back this week from another broken femur moved to second on lap two. Oldenburg, Forkner, and Jimmy Decotis got mid-pack starts and moved their way through the it. Just before the clock went to zero, Oldenburg passed Bowers for second and somewhere on the last lap Forkner took third.
250 Heat Two: Plessinger is keeping his good start steak alive battling his teammate Dan Reardon off the line, but Reardon was credited with the holeshot. Plessinger made his move to first in the following corner, but wasn’t able to triple the finish. He nearly was landed on and fell back to third. The following lap Plessinger made a nice block pass on Hill in the same corner he got Reardon. With two minutes to go Hill came up short on a double out of the corner and got off balance, which allowed McElrath to get really close and start pressuring him. McElrath showed a before the finish and couldn’t jump the triple. Hill stretched the gap back out. With one minute to go Plessinger passed Reardon for first in the corner before the start. Plessinger is using his long legs to his advantage, standing up in the corner after the straight and then is doing an interesting scrub move going single, single. On the last lap Reardon went from second to fourth with both Hill and McElrath getting by.
450 Heat One: Vince Freise, Grant, Broc Tickle, and Justin Bogle off the start. Grant took first blitzing through the whoops and then took off. He was the second fastest today and his training at Tomac’s last week may have paid off. Solid rides for the two RCH riders Bogle and Tickle who were second and third the. Musquin got a bad a start and had to work his way through the pack. He made an aggressive pass on Brayton for fourth with two laps to go and Brayton didn’t seem to like it. Using his whoop speed, Brayton went for the payback, but it wasn’t enough. In the last corner Tickle got past Bogle for second. Craig started fifth and finished seventh.
450 Heat Two: The crowd was alive for this one. Tomac and Dungey lined up in the same heat because they qualified first and third. With this elevation some of these guys are starting in first gear due to being so down in power. I’m not sure what gear Dungey started in, but which ever one he used he should do the same for the main as he finally got a good jump and the holeshot. Jason Anderson was second followed by Baggett, Weimer, and Tomac. Tomac was heading for the front and Weimer clipped his back wheel in the second corner and went down. Tomac got by Baggett and then made an impressive pass on Anderson on the inside of the corner before the start. Anderson tripled after the whoops and was forced to go outside allowing Tomac to go inside. Now it was Dungey and Tomac going one, two. Tomac was on wheels and charged after Dungey. They got into some lappers and it affected both of them pretty equally. On the last lap Tomac went for the same move on Dungey as he did on Anderson, but wasn’t close enough. Dungey with the heat win.
Semis and LCQs
250 LCQ: Edler and Jon Ames battled early for first in this one. Ames was getting squirrely in the whoops each lap but held on it. In one lap Justin Starling went from fifth to first and took the win. Zac Commans held on for the final transfer spot.
450 Semi-One: This was a stacked heat. Freise again with the start. Followed by the JGR boys of Weimer and Justin Barcia. Weimer made a hard pass on Freise before the finish pushing him from first to fifth Freise wasn't able to triple the finish. Millsaps latched onto the rear wheel of Barcia followed by Chad Reed and Malcolm Stewart. Millsaps charged through the whoops with less than two minutes to go and put Barcia high in the following corner. After Barcia fell to third, Reed came to life and started charging. Millsaps was hauling in the whoops and caught Weimer with two laps to go. On the last lap Millsaps passed Weimer on the outside of the whoops. Weimer could have parked him in the next corner, but didn’t. Two turns later the two-two of Chad Reed got Barcia for third. Millsaps, Weimer, Reed, Barcia, Stewart headed to the main. Millsaps has a lot of friends and family in the house tonight and it looks like he's trying to make them proud.
450 Semi-Two: Brayton who just missed qualifying to the main from the heat by one spot came back for redemption. He got the holeshot followed by Webb, Wilson, and Craig. Wilson made quick work passing Webb before the finish and then on Brayton right before the whoops. Diving inside before the whoops forced Wilson to hug the tough blocks to the right of the whoops. With Wilson on the outside Brayton used his impressive whoop speed to take first back and block Wilson. Wilson followed closely for the rest of the race, but couldn't find a spot to make the move agin. On the last lap in the last rhythm Brayton and Wilson were side-by-side. In the last turn Wilson cut inside. Neither sat down to turn and both were balancing their throttle, clutch, and balance ever so softly and Wilson just got by for the semi win. Exciting stuff.
450 LCQ: The start master Freise got another one and he kept the lead in this one. The clock was at 4 seconds when Freise passed the finish and they had to do two more laps which Cade Clason was happy about as he was gunning for Enticknap who was in the final transfer spot. On the last lap it was a nail bitter, but unfortunately for Clason, he’ll be watching the mains from the stands tonight.
250 Main: Things started slow in this one and then completely flipped upside down, literally. Forkner got the holeshot followed by Plessinger and McElrath. McElrath made hard block pass on Forkner and took second. Hill made quick work from his sixth place start getting Oldenburn and Decotis on the first lap. From there it was pretty stale with the top four about pulling away from each other about two seconds each. Plessinger was out front, followed by McElrath, Forkner and Hill. This is how things went until there were nine minutes to go. Plessinger was looking good out front stretching the gap out to 3.6 second over McElrath when he got squirrely in the whoops. He dipped the front wheel, flipped over the bars and straight to his back after the final whoop and was done for the night. He got up and walked it off, but took a ride back to the pits sitting on the back of the Alpinestars Mobile Medical Mule.
With Plessinger out McElrath took the lead and Hill went into cruise mode. Hill came into the night 18 points ahead of Plessinger so he must have known he had the championship in the bag.
Forkner had is own problems in the whoops and went down too. He got back up in fifth, but never really found his groove again and had at least five more close calls throughout the race. Oldenburg found another gear after his teammate lead the pack and started charging. Oldenburg passed Hill for second who was riding smart and just trying to get to the checkers.
In the last corner of the last lap Davalos went for the juggler of Hill for the final podium spot, but Hill kept it with photo finish type closeness.
Hill is clinches the championship with 26 points over McElrath.
450 Main: There were tons of things were going on throughout the race, but everyone only cared about one thing. Dungey and Tomac. Dungey got the start that he needed in this one and Tomac did not. Dungey came out of the first turn in fourth and Tomac came through the second corner with two guys behind him. Dungey knew he had to get to the front early and check out if he wanted a chance at winning and he did just that. He started pulling away while Tomac had to fight his way to the front.
Tomac had serious work to do. In classic Tomac fashion he absolutely charged through the pack passing four guys in the whoops one time. He was nearly a full second a lap faster than the rest of the field. Dungey had pulled a 3.5 second lead over Anderson who was in second.
Tomac was impressive everywhere, but especially in the whoops and in the corner before the start straight. That’s where he seemed to really be making up time.
At one point Musquin got by Tomac in the rhythm before the finish and that didn’t make Tomac happy. He made a hard pass back on Musquin before the whoops and kept on going. Chad Reed was Baggett were battling, but Tomac just went on by.
With 14 minutes to go Bogle took his handlebars to the face and went down and Tomac made another pass. The following lap Tomac got by his teammate Grant. With just under ten minutes to go he got by Anderson after the whoops and the gap was at just over three seconds.
Dungey rode great tonight, but Tomac rode better. Tomac caught the back of Dungey and then settled in for about two laps. Tomac showed Dungey a wheel after whoops and really dove inside, but knifed the front a bit and couldn’t make it stick. Then on the following lap in the corner after the first rhythm Tomac made his move. There was some contact and Tomac got office balance and couldn’t do the rhythm. Dungey doubled out and Tomac singled which gave Dungey the lead back. Tomac regrouped and then charged by Dungey in the whoops and made it stick. Tomac with another impressive ride and a three point lead over Dungey heading into New Jersey.