Hotlanta. The dirty south. ATL. Whatever you call it, Atlanta is one of the marquee rounds of the series. Typically the best attended round of the series, Georgia’s red clay is one of the favorites for the riders. In years past, Atlanta was very rutty and soft but in modern times the dirt has been much harder and even slippery at times. The changes are a result of better dirt storage conditions and also Monster Jam events preceding the supercross weekend. Simply having the dirt inside the Georgia Dome for an extra week is enough to turn the supple clay into hard adobe.
Sometimes there is a combination of a hard-packed base and then soft and rutty jumps. This is almost always because of the Monster Jam variable as the base dirt has been packed for far too long to keep the softness that Atlanta is known for. This year, Monster Jam doesn't take place until the following weekend so I look for good dirt and like last week, a tough track for the main event. The 25-plus lap main events are tough on the tracks and while deteriorating track condition is not a new problem, it has been brought up by several riders lately.
This week’s track map will be interesting to watch unfold. The layout has some big possibilities, but the ruts can nullify several of the more creative approaches. The start is fairly long, similar to Minneapolis. We are back to the long 180 and away from the double 90 from the past two weekends.
The first rhythm is fairly easy to diagnose, as most riders will do a 2-3-2 combo into the next 180. This is very similar to the first rhythm in Arlington. The next rhythm is a up for a bit more interpretation, however. On paper, the fastest way will be 3-3-3. As the ruts form in the turn, however, that will become tougher and tougher. Another viable option will be to double out of the rutted turn, then jump from the smaller 3’ take-offs and triple-triple-single out of the section. Launching from the smallest take off is always the optimal choice as you can carry more speed and stay lower through the section.
Singling out of the previous section, riders will be able to cut across the inside of the turn before the sand. There is a 180 before the next dragon’s back. The fast line will be to blitz up and off of the top of the dragon’s back, landing onto the tabletop and then stepping off into the corner. It will be difficult but necessary.
The next section is most likely going to entail a step-on step-off followed by a triple into the turn. The other option would be to jump completely over the tabletop and then either triple-single or double-double. The first on-off option will easily be the fastest line, although this will force riders to the outside for the following turn. The latter options would allow riders to take the inside line in the next turn. This section’s optimal line could lie simply in that inside/outside option.
The next jumps are a series of small singles that will be pieced together a few different ways. The most important aspect will be landing on the downside of the last one before the main supercross triple into the turn. To scrub the triple with any speed, riders will want to avoid the compression and rebound that singling the last jump would force. In other words, they want to be decelerating to jump the triple, not accelerating. That is determined by how they navigate the prior jumps.
The next whoop section is longer than most. Atlanta’s whoops are notorious for deteriorating and this year will be no different. Finding a good rhythm here will be paramount for success. If I were a team manager, I would focus a camera on Marvin Musquin and tell my riders to do it exactly like he does. He will be one of the best in this section.
The last section is a basic finish line jump and a double before coming back onto the start straight. The finish line being preceded by a long whoops section could provide some great last lap action in the qualifying races.
Questions I Want Answered:
What’s eating Ryan Dungey?
With so much chaos in the 250 East Region opener, will we see a more predictable race unfold?
Will the points race between Dungey and Musquin affect the relationship inside Red Bull KTM and Aldon Baker’s program?
How much improvement can Justin Barcia show in these first few weeks?
With a first and a second in the last two races, Marvin Musquin is riding the best he ever has in recent weeks and closed the gap on Ryan Dungey in the standings.
Joey Savatgy rode a smart, solid race and has the red plate going into ATL.
Zach Osborne had the most raw speed in Minneapolis, but untimely errors cost him a chance at winning.
Eli Tomac bounced back to win Minneapolis. He should be in the mix for a win again this weekend.
Chad Reed has had a rough couple of weeks. His starts are killing any chance of success and while his riding may not be perfect, it’s irrelevant when you start that far back.
Alex Martin crashed out of both the heat race and the main event, putting him in a big points hole right from the get go.
Benny Bloss had a big crash in the main event and will need surgery to repair his shoulder. Tough break for Benny, but he’s young and will bounce back.
Tom Brady wins the 450 main event. After all, he does own the ATL now, right?
Zach Osborne wins his first main event.
Eli Tomac wins another main event, inching ever closer to Ryan Dungey.
The Alpinestars Medical Unit is overwhelmed on Saturday morning as DMXS partygoers struggle to function.
Fourteen riders all claim that this is their home race but strangely, none of them are from Atlanta.
Christian Craig jumps back onto the podium after a dismal Minneapolis main event.
Some rider wears black for the Atlanta Falcons and the internet complains that it’s the wrong shade of black.