Get ready for what could be the second-wildest night of Monster Energy Supercross in quite some time (because last week will be nearly impossible to top). It's the final round of the 17-race season, and the 450SX Championship is still up for grabs, with Red Bull KTM's Ryan Dungey leading by nine points, and thus needing to finish fourth or better to lock up the crown no matter what Tomac does. Tomac, of Monster Energy Kawasaki, hopes to collect his tenth win of the season, and then with some luck, not break a record for most wins on a season without winning a championship. Currently that record is held by Damon Bradshaw, who won nine races in 1992 but came up short of the title.
Dungey's lead is huge compared to what has developed in the 250SX East Region, with three riders separated by just one point. Jordon Smith is the points leader on his Red Bull TLD KTM, holding the red plate right now for the first time in his career. Monster Energy/Pro Circuit Kawasaki's Joey Savatgy and Rockstar Energy Racing Husqvarna's Zach Osborne sit one point back. Meanwhile the 250SX West Region Championship has already been clinched by Justin Hill.
Osborne has significant momentum after a come-from-behind win last week in New Jersey, as he passed Smith and Savatgy to get the lead. But that soft, rutted track is completely different that the slick hard pack here in Las Vegas.
Osborne said yesterday he aims to be a well-rounded rider and perform just as well on hard pack as any other track, but there are some factors to consider. Last week Osborne was able to find lines and make quick, easy passes even after a bad start. It won't be as easy to do that tonight, so if he suffers a bad start, especially in a field loaded with east and west talent, he could be in trouble. We talked to MTF's Bryan Johnson, who works with Smith, and he said they're counting on the start to help Smith tonight, as he's been good out of the gate lately.
Another factor: teammates. We don't expect takeouts, and even blatant pull overs might not happen. But subtle things like gate selection will be interesting to watch. Will one team surround a title rival off the gate and try to crowd him? Or will they put teammates besides teammates to insure the guy that needs to get ahead gets the jump?
This is going to be interesting.
This track is super slick and super dry. Normally the Vegas track is watered heavily in the morning so it can hold up during the night show, but we’ve already reached night-show level dry here in the afternoon. So take these practice times with a grain of salt and desert silt—the hot laps for most were sketchy, fighting for traction the whole time.
In 250SX West, Justin Hill showed why he’s champion (although not wearing the 1w, this is considered a regular race so he won’t run the number-one until next year) by clocking the fastest time.
The real focus was on the 250SX East session. Zach Osborne might not have always had his number on top of the board, but he looked the smoothest and most comfortable of the title contenders. Joey Savatgy had a big moment and a big save in a rhythm lane, and Jordon Smith had a few bobbles as well.
Adam Cianciarulo put in a late flyer to get on top of the board, but it was one of those “hang on and hope” laps on the slick soil that will be tough to replicate in a race. Then Dylan Ferrandis logged a lap faster than that to take the fast time away. Osborne, Savatgy and Smith were next.
In the 450s, everyone was experimenting with a rhythm lane after the start. Fastest rhythm is a triple-triple-double-triple but it requires going to the outside in the first turn to get that first triple—and the rut on the outside is way out there. Late in the session Blake Baggett went triple-double-double quad, it looked big but actually not that fast, because the double-double is slow and the quad leads to a ton of hangtime. It’s worth looking into, though, so when the session ended several other riders hearded around the jump and started lining it up. We’ll see who else tries it in the next session.
The Kawasaki guys need to make things happen tonight, and they made a statement in practice but going 1-2, with Tomac ahead of Grant. Dungey was third.
So much on the line tonight in 250 East that some riders from the West Region with things to prove have been overshadowed a bit. A perfect example is GEICO Honda’s Jimmy DeCotis,who is still trying to get his first career podium. Jimmy D railed in this practice and ended up with the top time, with Martin Davalos, Shane McElrath, Austin Forkner and Aaron Plessinger next. Think about those names—they could all really use and appreciate a win here tonight.
In 250SX East, Osborne looked smooth again, but Savatgy and Smith were much more consistent, too. Adam Cianciarulo had some moments again including a crash in a corner that also ended up collecting Mitchell Harrison—and Harrison wasn’t happy about it. A lap later, though, Cianciarulo logged the fastest time of the session.
In the 450s, now everyone has the track dialed and there are few line or rhythm changes. There was some heavy water put down before these practice sessions so it’s hard to predict how the dirt will shape up tonight. There are now ruts in some of the corners so riders can pick to stick lows to the insides, or sweep high around the outside. Eli Tomac, in this session, looked good by sticking to the low lines and yet still finding the drive to get on the whoops hard.
The usual suspects spent time up front in this one, including Marvin Musquin and Jason Anderson, and Anderson ended up the fastest in the session. Tomac logged a late one to grab second spot. We also spotted a quick crash from Ryan Dungey when he washed out in a corner, but he got up quickly and looked okay.
250SX West Heat
Decotis took the long way around on the first turn, came out with the lead, and never looked back. He really wants that first podium tonight and rode solid from start to finish. On the first lap Justin Hoeft crashed in the turn before the whoops and got up slowly, holding his arm. He did not finish the race. Aaron Plessinger and Justin Hill both had mid-pack starts and had to work their ways through.
250SX East Heat
Zach Osborne had a bad jump off the gate and was hugging the inside so much that he went off the watered and groomed part of the track. That part of the track is very dry and very slick. He washed the front end and although he got up quick, he was in last.
Dylan Ferrandis and Joey Savatgy swapped position a few times early in this one before Savatgy made it stick. Savatgy pulled a small gap on Ferrandis and then Jordon Smith caught Ferrandis. Smith made a move down the long straight on Ferrandis coming from outside the stadium, but Ferrandis got him right back. Osborne was flying through the pack and all eyes were on him for the race. He made passes anywhere and everywhere. On the last lap he almost got two guys in one corner, but Dakota Alix had the inside in the following corner and got him back. Osborne finished eighth.
450SX Heat One
Davi Millsaps had the inside, but Dean Wilson came around the outside and jumped passed him in the rhythm. Millsaps got Wilson back outside the stadium. Eli Tomac was on a charge. Millsaps pulled about a two second gap before washing the front in the corner after the long straight from outside the stadium. With Millsaps down, Wilson got by and then Baggett quickly got by for the lead. Wilson got Baggett back and then lead a lap before Baggett made the pass in the same spot as the lap prior. Baggett then pulled two second lead and took the win. Tomac finished third behind Wilson followed by Justin Barcia.
450SX Heat Two
Ryan Dungey had a huge holeshot, but Josh Grant was in close second and pressured Dungey the whole race. Cooper Webb was third and pulled the trigger on the huge quad at the end of the rhythm for the first time today. He came up a little short, but figured it out the following lap. Jason Anderson and Malcolm Stewart swapped spots and then Chad Reed got by Stewart. The following lap Anderson washed his front end. Malcolm pressured Reed for the rest of the race and almost went for the pass on the last lap before the triple but bobbled and had to double allowing Reed to take to final transfer spot.
Freddy Noren and Nick Gaines went down in the first turn here. Tyler Bowers got out front and pulled away. Hayden Mellross followed and then Cole Martinez and Justin Starling. They were all pretty spread out without much action.
Justin Brayton got the start with Marvin Musquin behind. They immediately gapped the rest of the field. Musquin appeared to be faster in the rhythms and Brayton had a slight edge everywhere else. Brayton’s lead stretched and shrunk the whole race never getting more than a two seconds and never any less than two bike lengths. Christian Craig road quietly in third followed by Justin Bogle. Scott Champion and Alex Ray battled for the final transfer spot, but Champion held onto it and Ray is headed to the LCQ.
Jake Weimer had the jump, but Anderson snaked it from the outside as he railed the berm. Millsaps was in second and on the first lap he came in way too hot after the long straight from outside the stadium and crashed. He got up in about twelfth place. Tyler Enticknap was in the final transfer spot when he cased hard in the rhythm. He saved himself from going down but immediately pulled off the track and laid his bike over. He appeared to be favoring his leg and laid straight to the ground. He was in a sketchy spot being on the side of the track directly after the landing of the end of the rhyhthm before exiting the stadium and the Alpinestars Mobile Medical Crew dragged him a few feet over to get into a safer spot. They ended up taking him on the mule. Tough luck for Tyler who had trouble last week in the semi when he was also in the final transfer spot. Millsaps was able to climb his way back to fifth and saved himself from having to go to the LCQ.
This was the most exciting race of the night so far. Dakota Tedder got a good start and was able to triple out of the first turn giving himself a big gap over the rest of the field to start. On the first lap Tony Archer had a big crash on the landing of the triple and rolled around in agony for a minute before getting up on his own and riding back to the pits. Back in fourth Nick Schmidt and Deven Raper were battling and Raper t-boned Schmidt in the corner before the whoops on the last lap. Schmidt wasn’t happy about it and came charging through the whoops fighting for the final transfer spot. Raper tried to square him up in the corner and Schmidt went hard on the brakes. Schmidt did a full on stoppy on his front wheel trying to keep Raper from coming back underneath and they both came to a complete stop. The Seven-Deuce-Deuce of Adam Enticknap came railing from the outside and passed both of them and the stadium went crazy.
This was absolute chaos. There was a huge pileup in the first turn that included Zach Osborne, Shane McElrath, Mitchell Harrison, Austin Forkner, and Dakota Alix. Adam Cianciarulo came out unscathed and with the lead. On the second lap while, in second, Savatgy washed out on the first jump after the finish. The following lap, while in the top four Jordon Smith jumped off the track on his own and lost four spots. Shortly after Martin Davalos crashed in the corner on his own in the corner between the two whoop sections.
With 12 minutes to go, Jordon Smith went down huge after endoing off the ski-jump coming from outside the stadium. He went over the bars going so fast and the bike came down on top of him before he skipped and rag dolled. He got up with assistance about two laps later and hobbled off the track, done for the night and the championship over.
With Smith out of the race, Osborne way back and Cianciarulo out front, everyone started doing the math for how the points stands would fall as they ran. Savatgy was back in seventh and Osborne charging through the pack.
With 4:15 to go Decotis passed Savatgy for seventh and started pulling away. It took Savatgy a few laps to regroup and he got close again, but never could get Decotis back. All eyes were on Osborne who was back in 11th. He was riding like a man possessed made some impressive passes with zero hesitation. Decotis passed Mellross for sixth and then with a lap and a half to go Savatgy got by Mellross putting him between Savatgy and Osborne. Being tied with Savatgy in the points, Osborne absolutely had to get by both of them if he wanted the championship. On the last lap in the first whoop section Osborne flew by Mellross and with two turns to go Osborne came flying inside of Savatgy went for it. Savatgy tried to hang onto it, but he crashed and Osborne got by for seventh and the stadium absolutely erupted.
Cianciarulo took his second win of the season followed by Hill and Plessinger to round out the podium. With Cianciarulo with the win and Osborne in seventh only two points separated them in the standings and Osborne won his first 250 supercross championship.
Dungey got the holeshot and tripled of the first turn followed by Baggett, Anderson and Tomac. Tomac quickly moved into third after the first rhythm and then got Baggett in the whoops on the first lap. It was Dungey, Tomac going 1-2.
On the second lap Tomac cut inside of Dungey after the whoops and stood him up. Dungey stopped to let him by and had to back peddle down the berm and Jason Anderson got by. Anderson caught Tomac and the next lap passed Tomac in the first turn. Tomac doubled out of the corner and Jason singled giving them different rhythms. Tomac tripled out of the section and had a better drive down the straight and pulled a gap back out. Was able to do the quad out of the section and made up a bunch of time on Tomac and Anderson. After the straight coming back into the stadium Dungey squeezed by Anderson and regained second.
With about eleven minutes to go Dungey caught back up to Tomac and started applying the pressure. Dungey only needed to get fourth to win the championship, but there appeared to be some strategy at play with Tomac. Tomac appeared to be holding back a little allowing Dungey to stay close. Dungey was going faster, but was being patient knowing that if he got by too early, Tomac would may make a desperate move to possibly take him out.
Instead of riding out the race and taking the championship, Dungey kept pressuring Tomac. He had a better line than Tomac in the rhythm after the finish where he was tripling onto the first tabletop making up time. Dungey also had several uncharacteristic moments where he almost washed the front and dropped the nose in one of the rhythms.
Tomac missed the quad and Dungey got by with 6:20 to go. Before the triple Tomac punted Dungey and Dungey missed the triple. Dungey went around and got back in behind Tomac, but the pack was all there now. This may have been what Tomac wanted. It was Tomac, Dungey, Anderson, Grant, Baggett, and Reed all within five seconds with five minutes to go. Grant had a sketchy moment on the ski jump almost endoed, but saved it. The following lap reed got by Baggett and Grant. Grant was all over Anderson and so Dungey was all over Tomac again.
With one minute to go Reed by by Anderson after the whoops and Anderson came back inside in the following corner in classic Anderson style before the finish and pushed Reed off the track. Anderson also stalled it on the top of the finish that he was forced to roll, but quickly used his electric start to get going again. Grant slid by Reed for fourth and Reed got back on the track in fifth.
On the last lap Tomac clearly slowed down even further and was basically forcing Dungey to pass him. Dungey made the move before the triple and Tomac had the inside in the following corner. Sure enough, Tomac made contact and stood Dungey up. Anderson came flying inside of both and took the lead. Grant got by them as well and took second. Tomac passed Grant back in the whoops and Dungey was fourth. Dungey knew all he needed was fourth and with a gap over fifth, he cruised through the laste two corners to the finish to collect his fourth supercross championship.