Into the cold we go! Indianapolis, Indiana is home to rounds 4-6 of the 2021 Monster Energy AMA Supercross Championship. This is the earliest I can remember visiting Indy and I think the dirt will reflect that. We are in the throes of winter which will provide wet, soft dirt inside Lucas Oil Stadium. That will dry over the course of the week, but these first two rounds should be tricky.
Dirty Little Secrets
As for the track, it’s not an overly technical layout but the dirt could cause plenty of difficulty. Even the most basic of rhythm sections can be a concern if there are footpeg deep ruts through the take-offs.
The start is noticeably short, arcing into a long left hander. Riders will roll over a big single and the leaders will try to triple into the next corner, providing a bit of separation on the first lap. A bowl berm slingshots riders into the first whoops section and I expect these to be a “jump in, jump out” scenario by the time the main event rolls around. Watch for Marvin Musquin and Cooper Webb to lead the way on this, finding a line that allows them to jump a 4-4 combo and accelerate hard on the landing of the second four.
Riders will cross the first turn and fire into a bowl berm 180, railing back the opposite direction of the start straight on exit. Two 90-degree lefts (or one long 180) take riders under the bridge and into a combination of six jumps. If the dirt allows it (rut wise), riders could rail the outside and go for a 3-3. I think this option is unlikely, though. I expect riders to stick to the inside and go for a 2-3-1 line.
The next bowl berm will set riders up for a standard supercross triple and then hard on the brakes for a small step up and over the bridge tabletop. A slow 180 takes riders around “the Beast” scoring tower and alongside the stadium edge.
The next rhythm section is interesting, and I am a little unsure of the exact approach. The only real certainty is that riders will want to land on the downside of the taller jumps. There are two backwards ski-jumps in this section and it’s always a better idea to land on the long slopes of these instead of jumping from the steep front-end face. Remember, riders are always looking to lessen height and maintain as much speed through these rhythm sections as possible. Using the shorter jumps as ramps allows more speed and momentum as you can remaining lower through the entire section.
A 90-degree left sends riders into the second whoops section. I expect these to also be small and rhythmic by the end of the night. A final 90 left sets riders up for a double jump and into the finish line jump. The finish line double actually jumps over the first corner and directly into that first triple we mentioned off the start.
With all of these 90-degree corners and expected soft dirt, I think it will be important to use the track itself for passing. You might be asking, “What does that mean?” In simplest terms, the more difficult the conditions, the less you could worry about the riders around you. Some tracks allow riders to battle each other and there is more emphasis put on rider-to-rider strategy. A track like this will instead force riders to focus on executing perfect laps instead of worrying about their fellow rider. Perfect laps will send you right on past your competitor as they are flailing through the ruts. You simply use someone else’s mistake to make passes, and trust that such mistakes will come. The variance in lap times on a good lap versus a bad lap is often much higher in conditions like this.
With three rounds in one city, we had a few trends to work from. I think those trends may shift a bit as we roll into Indy. The change in scenery and more importantly, the dirt consistency, will work for some and maybe take a bit of edge away from others.
For the 250SX Class, injuries have really taken a toll. The privateer group is slowly invading the top ten and providing big value along the way. The lack of depth is also opening the door for lesser-known options to sneak into a main event. That route involves risk, though, so buyer beware. I still believe the most value lies in the middling pack that is likely to qualify, even if you are limiting your upside potential. I will choose a rider with an 8 handicap that I can count on to make the main instead of a long shot with a 16 handicap. The risk of catastrophe is simply too high for my taste. Riders like Josh Varize, Grant Harlan, Kevin Moranz, Logan Karnow, Hunter Sayles, Jeremy Hand, and Thomas Do all fit the bill here. As for the high-risk/high-reward riders, look for names like Lane Shaw, Devin Simonson, Wilson Fleming, Hunter Schlosser, Max Miller, Jonah Geistler, and Bobby Piazza. Godspeed if your team consists entirely of the latter list but if things go your way, that’s how weekends are won.
In the 450SX Class, I am all about value. Both Marvin Musquin and Zach Osborne present incredible opportunity. They are both top ten riders on a consistent basis but have had a tough go thus far. That’s the ideal setup. Use the previous struggles and play the rebound. In a nutshell, that’s how fantasy success is found. Timing is the most important facet. I do believe there is residual value in riders like Kyle Chisholm and Benny Bloss, and Justin Bogle finally found himself in a main event, too. Another rider that could sneak in under the radar is Brandon Hartranft after his big crash on Saturday. Look for the riders coming off a tough weekend and ride the wave back to their average.
Feld Entertainment asks factory 250 riders to wear inflatable sumo suits (made famous by the Toyota intermission game) to ensure the entire main event is not comprised of privateers by the end of the series.
GameStop announces they will sponsor every privateer in Monster Energy Supercross.
Dean Wilson decides to dress as Grandpa Earl for the remainder of 2021 in hopes of flying under the radar.
Suzuki holds open tryouts for anyone wanting to ride a yellow 250F.