Spring has finally sprung in the Rocky Mountains. Salt Lake City hosts the penultimate round of Monster Energy Supercross, and we are looking at a great Saturday if the weather forecast holds. With highs in the seventies and snowy mountains in the backdrop, the day schedule should provide a perfect setting for perhaps a title-clinching round.
Most of this region has been patiently waiting for weather to shift, so I expect a huge turnout and thousands of smiling faces. This race is usually tricky for the teams and riders, as the elevation will wreak havoc on both 250 and 450 engines alike. The modern EFI engines certainly help, but to a man, every rider will come in on Saturday morning complaining that their bike is slow. We have seen incredible races here in the past, with the Chad Reed/James Stewart battle in 2009, the Chad Reed/Ryan Villopoto battle in 2011, and the heroic Eli Tomac win in 2017. With Marvin Musquin and Eli’s bitter feud beginning just a week ago, I am hoping for more fireworks.
The start in SLC is similar to many previous years at this venue. The shorter start that spans the width of the stadium leads to riders pushing off the track. The riders on the inside will slide as they brake and push wide, leaving the riders on the outside with nowhere to go and—boom—a pileup. We see this variation several times a year and it’s probably necessary for certain layouts, but I have never liked it.
The first rhythm section looks pretty basic, but that’s not a bad thing when everyone is bunched up on the first lap. Riders will triple to the downside of the tabletop, then triple up to the backwards-ski jump and then double out. The 90-degree left will give riders and inside-outside option that will dictate how the next rhythm section is executed. If riders go inside, they will double, then tabletop to single into the corner. If they choose the outside option, they will double out of the turn, then step-on/step-off single into the berm. Ideally, these would be the same speed, and riders could choose either option and not have to follow the rider ahead of them. That rarely happens with these sections, so watch for track changes throughout the day a la Minneapolis if things aren’t working.
A bowl berm leads into a triple onto a tabletop and step-off, but watch for this to be difficult with the elevation. The riders that can pull this off will have a huge advantage. Depending on how it’s built, we could only see a few guys in either class do it.
A quick 90 to the right leads to a small double and the first of back-to-back whoops sections. Salt Lake City whoops typically break down pretty badly (remember Eli blowing past everyone last year?), so watch for riders finding a rhythm through these in the main events. A bowl berm separates these two whoops sections of similar length. Could we see one of these be big and nasty like in 2011?
The next bowl berm sends riders into the finish line jump and immediately into another bowl berm. A small double will propel riders through a sand section and into yet another bowl berm. Look for block passes in all of these repetitive bowl berms, especially with a sand straight before this one. The only standard supercross triple is up next, followed by a fast single back onto the start straight for lap two.
Questions I Want Answered
Does Eli get his payback in SLC?
Can AP23 find a way to clinch the title this weekend?
Can JA21 manage his nerves and clinch this title?
Aaron Plessinger is coming in hot after winning Seattle’s main event and building a nice points lead.
Marvin Musquin is on the hot seat with fans and also running hot after taking the W in Foxboro.
Jason Anderson has a great chance to clinch his first 450 title with a decent finish in Salt Lake.
Blake Baggett posted his best finish in a long while with a fourth for Foxborough.
Joey Savatgy tossed away a boatload of points with his Seattle crash.
Mitchell Oldenburg announced that he would be out for an extended time with a torn ACL and MCL in his knee.
Kyle Cunningham had a nasty crash while battling for a top-ten in Foxborough.
Tough pill to swallow.. it’s been a rough couple of years to say the least.. Had a practice crash last Monday which resulted in a torn ACL and MCL.. Doing everything I can to get back to 100%! Can’t thank my team enough for sticking behind me and being supportive in this tough time! Tough times don’t last, but tough people do!?? @starracingyamaha
Chad Reed sets the main event start record at 236.
For the first time ever, Monster Energy Kawasaki runs a skull-and-crossbones theme on their team graphics.
After time to reflect on the Foxborough incident, Marvin Musquin blames Zach Osborne, Josh Grant, John Tomac, the state of Nevada, Ricky Bobby, Perrier sparkling water, Milli Vanilli, Shaggy, OJ Simpson, the economic downturn of 2008, Barack Obama, four-strokes, swine flu, the rise and fall of Communism, global warming, and a bit of inaudible mumbling about deflategate.
John Gallagher abandons his black flag in favor of tranquilizer-tipped blow darts.