1. Super rutty and tough track. Good or bad?
Jason Thomas: I loved it. So many of the tracks are cookie-cutter layouts. Once the first lap is over, most of the excitement has ended with it. The tougher tracks add mistakes and unpredictability. We should be on the edge of our seats during a main event, wondering who can hold it together and who will crumble under the deteriorating conditions. Maybe I am just old and stuck in my ways, but I like for the racers to be challenged.
David Pingree: The Indy track was amazing but I think the layout helped make for great racing in addition to the soft, rutted surface. The tighter, slower design allows riders to make passes without making contact at high speeds. The ruts added a level of technicality we haven't seen in a long time. In the old timey days this is how almost every East Coast round was, and often times Seattle and San Francisco too. Ruts in the turns, and sticky soil in general is a good way to separate riders. It forces mistakes and wears riders out much faster than a hard pack surface. These guys just need to be careful about letting the ruts get too big on jump faces—those crashes usually end with a trip to the hospital.
Steve Matthes: Yeah, it was good, bro! Hey, if there's not going to be enough dirt to build big enough jumps for thumpers , if the track designs are going to leave something to be desired, and if they're going to roll whoops flat after practice, then having dirt that makes clearing said jumps tougher is cool with me. Seeing the best riders in the world make mistakes makes for great racing (sorry to me a masochist, bro) and besides, this was the way supercross used to be back in Ping and JT's days.
2. Ken Roczen has pushed Dungey hard the last two races. Big battle brewing for the Nationals?
Thomas: Yes, that's a certainty and they will have company. All of the riders who have struggled lately, a la Eli Tomac, Trey Canard, and Justin Barcia, will be ready to turn the score back to even Stephen. The proposition of redemption is always a welcome sight for those who had a rough supercross series. Dungey will still go in as the favorite but I think we are in for a spectacular summer.
Pingree: Yes. And you can add Eli to the front of that mix as well. I also think Trey and Barcia could be in that mix at some level, too.
Matthes: I think so. Or I hope so anyways. You've got to put Eli Tomac into this mix because I believe he'll be better than he's shown in supercross. The thing these guys have got to do is try to stay consistent because that #1 guy on the orange bike will be just that. Kenny's had too many poor races this SX season and here we stand with a 40-something point lead for Dungey. And Tomac’s poor starts have continued to haunt him most weeks.
3. Is Plessinger's first win a breakthrough and sign of things to come, or is he just good on the rutted tracks?
Thomas: I think it's a bit of both, but more of the latter. He has shown an ability to excel in these conditions each and every time. His ride at the Ironman National last summer was indicative of this and generally anytime the skies appear threatening, there are whispers of Aaron Plessinger. He is certainly a threat on any track but when conditions go sideways, he is all smiles. As we wrap up this East Coast series, keep in mind that two of the last four will probably see less than perfect conditions (open stadiums in the Northeast of Massachusetts and New Jersey). If he can capitalize on both of the Northeast rounds, he may find himself in a 15-lap battle for the title under the hot Las Vegas sun.
Pingree: Plessinger was my pick for this title. He's obviously good in the ruts but if you paid attention last year he was phenomenal on the hard packed tracks on the West Coast. This kid is the real deal and if he keeps his head screwed on this is the first of many for A-A-Ron. Oh, and if Mookie has a bad weekend this guy is still close enough to capitalize and win a title.
Matthes: Can it be a bit of both? I think you'd have to be pretty naive to think that Plessinger's win in Indy and at the Indiana National (Ironman) last year weren't in part due to the ruts and treacherous conditions. Or maybe he just loves Indiana? At the same time, Aaron's got everything you want in an up and coming rider. He's tall, he rides with great style, he appears to be in shape and he's got a good bike. Getting that first win is always a huge deal and AP23's got one in each series. And next year could be THE year for the kid.