For the third time in seven days, we are going racing in Indy! Round six concludes the Indy trio and what a run it’s been thus far. The track has been tough on the riders, with ruts and deteriorating conditions undoubtedly the theme. Since dirt dries out with each day in a stadium, we'll see the best conditions yet, however I do expect the base to be much more slippery, too. The upside is that we may be able to avoid a few of the bigger crashes in rhythm sections, even if it means a few guys will lose traction and fall over in corners.
Dirty Little Secrets
This week’s track is completely different than the first two Indy rounds (thankfully). The start is still on the longer end of the spectrum but does turn to the right this time. I always worry about riders not being able to use their rear brake in this scenario but Houston worked out okay with a right-hand turn so I will go with the flow.
The first rhythm section will be done one of two ways by the elite. They will roll the first small bump and then execute a 3-onto-tabletop, step off, double or they will double, then use the take-off of the tabletop to downside the next-to-last backwards ski jump and then single across the inside of the next corner. Both options have pros and cons, but the jump angles will be the biggest factor. Tripling onto the tabletop could be fairly easy or it could be virtually impossible, it’s all dependent on how Dirt Wurx operates the equipment.
Riders will rip across the mechanics’ area and into another 90-degree right hand corner. A small double leads into a standard supercross triple, followed by the first bowl berm of Indy 3. I would like to tell you that block passes will be likely here, but with the 90-degree turn preceding the short rhythm section, it will be very difficult for anyone to gain enough ground for the needed angle.
The next rhythm section is very similar to the first rhythm section of the track. There is one added jump at the end of the section but otherwise, they are the same. The approach will be the same, too. Riders will either triple onto the tabletop, step off and then triple or go for the 2-4-2. They work out a tiny bit differently on paper but in approach, they are almost mirror images.
A right-hand bowl berm leads into the longest and most critical rhythm section of the track. The approach will be simple but again, the jumps builds will determine the difficulty levels. The map indicates that the designers want riders to find ways to triple throughout the section. The question is, will riders triple out of the corner or simply double? My guess is they will double from the corner and then go 3-3-2. Tripling out of the corner would set up for a 3-3-3-1 but I think getting that first 3 will be problematic. In any scenario, finding a way to piece triples together is paramount to making this section work.
Another 90-degree right leads to a six-jump section before the finish line jump. Conventional wisdom says that riders would look for a 3-3 option here. With a flat corner leading into the section, though, that’s off the table. Instead, riders will roll through the inside line (no passing) and go 2-3-1 and into the next bowl berm. Many of the 250 riders will end up going 2-2-2 but it’s just a tad bit slower in most cases.
The finish line jump fires immediately into a 180 left and into a wall jump to slow the pace. We have seen wall jumps at all three Indy rounds which isn’t important but is worth mentioning. Landing from the wall jump, riders will accelerate backwards down the start straight and into a hard left. This left hander will be flat and tight, keeping speeds low for the next set of whoops. That slow entry is music to the ears of riders like Cooper Webb and Marvin Musquin. They will be able to find a jump rhythm that is as good or better than blitzing. Blitzing is best done with copious speed and that flat corner will disallow that.
Exiting the whoops, riders will make a hard right-hand corner and head back into the first corner. With the corner being so tight on exit of the whoops, the “jump through the whoops” theme will be even more powerful. Even if a rider finds the speed for a good blitz run through the whoops, he has to slow down for the hard right-hand corner. Riders that jump through these whoops will be able to use the downside of the last whoop as a braking point and therefore catch the inside line. This single dynamic alone has me thinking Webb and Musquin will be contenders on Saturday.
The 250SX class has been a points bonanza. With privateers dominating the depth of the field, there are huge points hauls to be had each week. We’ve seen the highest 250SX scoring in the history of the game and will likely continue until we switch coasts. The main theme is finding the higher handicap riders that can sneak into the main event. Wilson Fleming has been a gem. Curren Thurman paid off big time at Indy 2, as well. These picks aren’t without risk, though, as Thurman had missed the prior two main events. Myself, I went a bit safer for Indy 2 but still racked up 165 points in the 250SX class alone. There is more than one way to be successful in this game and that’s never been truer than the 2021 250SX class so far. As for Indy 3, there are two ways to go about it. You can keep swinging for the proverbial fences with 250SX longshots. With so many riders hurt or missing, there has never been more opportunity for that strategy to work. If you want to lessen the risk, pick riders like Kevin Moranz or Grant Harlan. They are virtual locks for the main event in this field and are top ten capable. They can each get you over 30 points and set you up nicely without the downside risk of the lesser-known riders.
In the 450SX class , the risk factor is much higher. Alex Ray finally paid off, but he’s had such a tough time, I don’t know that I could have recommended the pick. There seems to be a revolving door of privateers filling in the final 2-3 spots of the main event. Good luck deciding which one will make it this week.
I’ve been sticking to riders I’m willing to trust. The upside is a bit lower, sure, but the risk of catastrophe is also lower. There will be a time when riders like Vince Friese, Martin Davalos, and Benny Bloss pay off big time. They have all had their issues with crashing so far in 2021 but their time is coming.
The AMA catches wind that Adam Cianciarulo may have switched frames on his factory Kawasaki at some point during his career and therefore disallows him from riding the main event. With no one else available and all logic completely disregarded, they invite Jeff Ward to fill in for Cianciarulo as long as he is willing to start from the second row. Wardy goes on to finish seventh in the 450 main event.
Riders come around for the green flag in the 250 main event and are given the checkered flag, marking the shortest main event in SX history.
With injuries ravaging the 250 East class, the AMA decides to allow seven quads to round out the field.