Inevitable is defined as certain to happen; unavoidable. As in, when Adam Cianciarulo turned pro in 2014 and promptly won his first supercross race, a title seemed inevitable. Well, now after several seasons of injuries, bad luck, and inopportune crashes, Cianciarulo is poised to finally fulfill the inevitable by clinching the 2019 Lucas Oil 250 Class Pro Motocross Championship. Of course, there are no sure things in this sport—a look back at Cianciarulo’s “inevitable” 2019 Monster Energy Supercross 250SX West Region championship-turned-heartbreak is a reminder off that. So what exactly does Cianciarulo need to do to bring the title home this weekend? Let’s take a look at the numbers and possible scenarios to find out.
The most important numbers to consider here are 30 and 21. Thirty, because that’s how many points Cianciarulo leads Dylan Ferrandis, the only other rider still in contention. Twenty-one, because that’s the number of points Cianciarulo needs to score at Ironman Raceway to claim the championship no matter what Ferrandis does. If Cianciarulo earns 21 points and Ferrandis earns a perfect 50 (with a 1-1 score), Cianciarulo will edge Ferrandis by a single point. If they tie in points and Ferrandis wins both motos, the title will go to Ferrandis since he’ll have more moto wins (the tie breaker is decided by moto wins, not overalls). Right now they’re tied with seven moto wins each, so if Cianciarulo doesn’t win a moto, Ferrandis wins just one, and they tie in points, the title goes to Ferrandis. It’s a little tricky, we know. Let’s have a look at some simpler, more specific situations.
First Moto Clincher
For Cianciarulo clinching the championship in the first moto and not having to face the daunting possibility of a big crash or mechanical failure in the second is ideal. But how does he do that? Well, obviously winning would get it done, but so would second place, even if Ferrandis wins. Finishing ahead of Ferrandis would make Cianciarulo’s title happen too.
Second or better in the first moto earns Cianciarulo the title.
Beating Ferrandis in the first moto earns Cianciarulo the title.
Winning by Losing
There are scenarios in which Ferrandis beats Cianciarulo in the first moto but still ends up being mathematically eliminated from the championship. Cianciarulo just needs to make sure he doesn’t give up more than four points in the first moto. Let’s say they both get a bad start, for example, and are forced to slice and dice their way through the pack. If you’re Cianciarulo in this situation, one of the best things might be to latch onto the back of Ferrandis and dig his green Monster talons in so deep they never come out. If Cianciarulo’s in front of Ferrandis he puts himself at risk of being the casualty of rough riding. But if he finishes right behind him he’s guaranteed to clinch the title, even if they finish 19th and 20th, or any other consecutive combo.
No matter how far back either rider finishes, Cianciarulo will clinch the title if he’s able to avoid giving up more than four points. Heading into the second moto with 26 points or more is golden for the boys in green.
Second Moto Clincher
The nightmare scenario for Cianciarulo would be a big crash or mechanical failure in the first moto that leads to zero points being earned. For the sake of the argument, let’s assume that happens and Ferrandis wins the first moto, the latter being completely plausible. Heading into the second moto Cianciarulo would hold a five-point advantage over Ferrandis but would also be staring down the barrel of an awful gate pick. If Ferrandis holeshots and runs away with the win, a second place would still earn Cianciarulo the championship. And remember, Cianciarulo has finished second or better in 15 of 22 motos this summer, so betting he’ll finish poorly doesn’t seem sound.
Second or better in the second moto wins it for Cianciarulo, even if Ferrandis is perfect and Adam scores zero points in the first moto.
Every racer has them from time to time, including the greats, so we can’t assume Cianciarulo won’t simply have a bad day in which he can’t “find the flow,” or “hit his marks.” But how bad would it have to be? As mentioned, 21 points (out of a possible 50) on the day is enough for Cianciarulo to win the title no matter what. So even if he goes 11-10 (or any other combo that amounts to 21 points), something he could do in his sleep, the title is his. Let’s say he gets a bad start, has a couple of crashes, and ends up 14th in the first moto. A seventh place would still be enough. No matter how you look at it, things are looking pretty good for Cianciarulo.
A combined 21 points is Cianciarulo’s magic number.
The idea of the Monster Energy/Star Racing Yamaha riders devising some evil plot to put Cianciarulo on the ground every chance they get is ludicrous at best. The very thought of it summons Mad Max-esque images of flamethrowers rigged to belch fire and championship-destroying fury from the exhaust pipes of the Star bikes every time Cianciarulo gets close, with team owner Bobby Regan sadistically howling with disturbingly sinister laughter as the race unfolds, each singed piece of green plastic at a time. Hey but for fun let’s talk about it.
We all know the Star bikes are extremely fast, as evidenced by the sea of blue that almost always seems to get to the first turn first. So it doesn’t seem farfetched that Cianciarulo might have to work his way through a stack of Star bikes. It’s unlikely they’ll go out of their way to be polite, but they’re not going to drill him and break his leg either. Racers have respect for racers and no one is going to hurt someone on purpose. Cianciarulo isn’t stupid, either, and if he finds himself near Ferrandis don’t expect him to be handing the Frenchman solid opportunities to execute gnarly takeouts.
Team tactics could come into play, but probably nothing more than Ferrandis’ Star teammates racing hard and riding wide lines. If Ferrandis (or another ride from the “blue wave”) does put Cianciarulo on the ground and Ferrandis walks away with the title as a result, stay far, far away from the Monster Energy/Pro Circuit Kawasaki pits afterward.