When you think East Coast supercross, do you immediately think of Atlanta? I do. One of the most well attended and anticipated rounds of the year finds itself right in the middle of the schedule. We have seen incredible races in Atlanta throughout the years. Whether it’s the thriller in 1990, the Reed/Carmichael battle of 2005, the Reed/Stewart battle in 2011, or the being one of the first Triple Crown events ever (2018), Atlanta is iconic. The great traction usually increases the aggression that riders can wield, giving us great racing year in and year out.
DIRTY LITTLE SECRETS
The track layout for this year’s Atlanta has a little bit of everything. It has a sand section, a wall jump, and the always popular over/under bridge. The start is medium length into a wide, left 180-degree turn. Staging Area veterans will know that I love this particular style. I believe it’s the safest option and most fair to everyone.
After the first turn, there is a rhythm section with the standard three-foot and five-foot jump variations. I expect this to be pretty straight forward, with the best riders doubling out of the corner, then going 3-3 into the following corner. Options will vary as the skill set would dictate, but I think most riders will be vying for that main line.
A bowl berm to the left sends riders back parallel to the first rhythm. The fastest line on paper would be to slingshot around the berm and seat bounce the triple. That would be followed by another triple onto the tabletop and then stepping off into the turn. That’s a very technical option so don’t expect it to be all that common. The basic line (also for most 250s) will be simply to double, double, step on-step off into the corner. That could also become the line as the corner gets rutty and more difficult to triple out of.
Another bowl berm helps build momentum for the upcoming and only whoops section. Atlanta whoops are usually an ever-changing landscape. By main event time, look for riders to jump, hop, and wheel tap their way through. Riders like Eli Tomac may still try to blitz but it becomes more and more difficult as the height between each whoop increases. The fastest blitzing of whoops is dependent on predictability and consistency from whoop to whoop. Soft tracks like Atlanta very rarely provide this during the main event.
Next up is a short straight across the mechanics’ area. After reading their lap time or my personal favorite message, to “breathe,” riders will pop up and over the bridge. A short double leads into the finish line jump and immediately a 90-degree left. There are a few randomly placed single jumps just past that 90, forcing riders to choose a line. Creativity is sometimes rewarded in sections like this but more than likely, one line will become the obvious choice.
The dreaded wall jump into sand comes next, feeding riders a sand sandwich each and every lap. Goggle guys LOVE this obstacle, guaranteeing rider complaints about sand floating inside their goggles at some point on Saturday. These sections make for some cool pictures but there really is no upside if you're out there racing.
Sand blasted riders will fight through a right-hand sand turn before the only standard supercross triple on the Atlanta course. It will be interesting to watch the 250s fight to build momentum exiting the sand. Depending on the build, this section could be a real nightmare for the 250 C practice. Departing the face of a triple not knowing whether you’re going to make the landing could be a common thought early on Saturday morning.
Going under the bridge sends riders back onto the start straight and into the first turn.
Last week’s Triple Crown removed the biggest question of every fantasy weekend: who’s going to qualify and who won’t? With certainty in each team’s eight riders, the game becomes maximizing value in each pick. The 250 class was a bit anti-climactic as there were three 16 handicap riders making it into the main event. That created an overwhelming number of identical teams. I tried to step out of the most obvious lane, opting for Kevin Moranz instead of Richard Jackson. That didn’t go well for me as Moranz had several issues and ended up costing me 16 points versus Jackson’s score. Had I chosen Enzo Lopes as I had locked in all week, I would have also grabbed that optimal 52-point score. It was not a good effort for me in the 250 overall, losing big points on a weekend where even the poorest of teams scored very well.
In the 450SX Class, my team looked incredibly good at times. Martin Davalos was difficult to watch, going insanely fast but only to crush my dreams like a soda can. I seriously couldn’t keep up with how many times Marty was on the ground. He actually crashed twice on the same straightaway on the same lap. I didn’t even know that was possible. He was fast enough to be a top-five guy, period. He also crashed every time he rode his motorcycle.
Chad Reed had his best weekend of the year, finishing 13th overall. His +11 handicap gave his team owners a powerful 46 points. I had James Weeks on my team and so did many others. His 38.2 percent pick trend was the highest amongst 450 riders. That’s a common theme in these Triple Crowns: riders with a 16 handicap being the low hanging fruit. Zach Osborne has been a high risk/high reward rider all season and Arlington was no different. His 42-point score was tied for second best for the 15.6 percent of teams that picked him.
As we move into Atlanta, I think the most 250 value comes from the middle of the pack. Riders like Enzo Lopes, John Short, and Jalek Swoll are enticing. They are in that 5-6 handicap range and all three are capable of being inside the top ten. Without crashes, they should all score over 30 points but as we know, nothing is guaranteed in moto fantasy. Still, I think my team will consist of these main event mainstays that seem to have the punching power I am looking for.
My approach to the 450s will be similar but maybe even more conservative. Dean Wilson, Blake Baggett, and Justin Brayton jump out to me. Their results suggest they will be a lock for double points, but their upside could have them near the top of the list. I think many teams will see Martin Davalos as their lock of the week but after last week’s debacle, I don’t have any uplifting things to say. With the injury bug hitting the 450SX Class hard, can the likes of Adam Enticknap or Cade Autenrieth capitalize? There is a big payoff to be had if so but the risk of not qualifying is always present, too.
Dirt Wurx hands out copies of “How to Train Your Dragon” at Saturday morning’s riders meeting.
Jason Weigandt spends a week of sleepless nights wondering how the descendent of a former flagger could possibly miss the start of another race, this time signaled by a flag itself.
The 450SX Class is missing yet another factory rider as we arrive into Saturday morning.
With the DMXS party on Friday coinciding with an earlier day schedule, track walk is a very painful affair for many.
Steve Matthes and the Monster Energy/Star Racing Yamaha team have to be physically separated during track walk.
Eli Tomac wins a rutty Atlanta, pushing his points lead to double digits.