The end is near! Round 12 of the Lucas Oil AMA Pro Motocross Championship is Saturday, putting a final exclamation point on a great summer of racing. Ironman Raceway in Crawfordsville, Indiana, has hosted the finale for the past several years, but the weather hasn’t always cooperated. This year looks to be the best yet, with a high of 76 on Saturday. Mid-week rains should have the track in pristine condition as well as paving the way for cooler temps. The rains could soften the track and make for a very rutty race day but it’s nothing we haven’t seen before at Ironman.
The dirt will probably shape up similarly to previous years, rutty and tacky. It’s a track that requires both patience and aggression. That sounds like crazy talk, I know, but it’s true. Overriding the deep ruts will end up in a crash or mistakes at minimum. The downhill sections and faster sections need that aggression, though. Riders need to find their rhythm and approach the track with a plan. Ride precisely where necessary and unleash Hell where possible. If I knew how to do that perfectly, my Racer X Vault page would be much more impressive.
The start this year is a sweeping right hand corner which will be interesting to say the least. I am not a fan of right-hand first turns as a policy but I will try to keep an open mind. Right-hand first turns typically negate the use of the rear brake but Unadilla makes it work so let’s see how it goes. It looks a bit slower than the old start which is always a good idea when it comes to safety. Most of the other track changes look to add more flow to the track. Some of the corners on the older layout were hard 180s and created a bottleneck on the opening lap. I am a fan of variety and keeping things fresh, though, so I am happy to see a few new wrinkles.
With this being the last round, I always look for who is motivated and who is going through the motions. Riders without a contract should be in “full send” mode hoping to impress potential suitors. With many of the quality spots filling, urgency is certainly at hand. Riders like Kyle Peters, Martin Davalos, Garrett Marchbanks, Mitchell Oldenburg, Jordan Bailey, Mitchell Falk, Ty Masterpool, Jacob Hayes, Joey Savatgy, Benny Bloss, Justin Bogle, Justin Hill etc. are in some sort of limbo for their 2020 plans (apologies if any of those guys are signed). A big result at Ironman could be the difference between landing that ride for next year or not. Many of the teams are genuinely undecided, waiting for a rider to jump off the page. We know that Shane McElrath is long since secured for 2020 but a ride like his at Budds Creek is the heroic effort I am speaking of. The pressure is on and teams know it. If a rider can excel under the weight of his professional future, that’s a nice omen for how he will perform under the pressure of a new contract. There are far more riders than rides. There will be riders on the outside looking in next season. The have’s and have not’s will be ironed out in the weeks to come if not already. With the 450 Class title decided and Adam Cianciarulo’s 30-point lead in the 250 Class, the most interesting part of Saturday will be this battle within a battle. Who can step up and impress, grabbing the few remaining jobs in the paddock?
Questions I Need Answered
Can Cianciarulo lock this up in the first moto or are we all going to be forced to hold our breath for 35 minutes of the second moto?
Is Chad Reed going to show up and holeshot from the water truck path along the side of the track?
With cooler temps on Saturday, will Ken Roczen be back in the mix for a win?
Will Jason Weigandt and Steve Matthes apologize to me for making fun of my MXoN apparel excitement? (Watch for Friday photos of Zach Osborne USA gear!!!)
Can the Monster Energy Yamaha Factory Racing team take another step forward?
How will Joey Savatgy do in his last outdoor race with Monster Energy Kawasaki? (Congrats on the baby by the way!)
How many times will the front desk of my hotel in Sweden call my room with complaints about me yelling at my computer?
Will Monster Energy Star Racing Yamaha line up their team next to AC92 on the start hoping for chaos?
Eli Tomac won his third-straight Lucas Oil AMA Pro Motocross Championship. That definitely makes you hot.
Shane McElrath went 1-1 and had everyone scratching their head. What a ride.
Jason Anderson is finding his groove lately and has MXoN on the horizon.
Chase Sexton was the fastest qualifier but the motos didn’t come together. I still think he is going to be on fire come Saturday.
RJ Hampshire is riding really well but can’t buy a break.
Thomas Covington made a return attempt at Budds Creek but it didn’t go well.
Garrett Marchbanks has had a tough summer.
Justin Cooper holeshots the first moto.
Ken Roczen sets the fastest qualifying time by over a second.
Jeffrey Herlings watches Ironman with a smirk then races Uddevalla with a smirk. (Editor’s note: KTM announced this morning that Herlings will make his tentative return this weekend at the MXGP of Sweden).
Marvin Musquin wins a moto.
Wayne’s K Frame is picture perfect.
Steve Matthes chugs a beer with Mitch Payton in celebration of AC92’s first title.