As my Australian friends would say, it’s time for Daytoner. Placed around the mid-point of the series, Daytona means different things to different people. For me, it was my home race. Family and friends were on hand to watch and the dirt felt familiar. For others, it was a big adjustment in the middle of an otherwise traditional SX series. Many feel it’s inconvenient to change up their tracks, setups, etc., but I always felt it was a nice change of pace. Seventeen rounds of Monster Energy AMA Supercross is a serious undertaking so adding variety feels like a welcome break. Let’s see what the 2021 Daytona round has for us.
Dirty Little Secrets
The start has been moved to the center of the course, splitting the width of the infield. The interesting thing with this variation is for riders blowing through the outside of the corner as bars entangle. With a 180 left as the second corner, the ideal line is to hang tight in the first and second corners. For those that get pinched on the inside of the first corner, they may be able to sneak down the inside of the first straight and dive inside for turn two. Corners two and three are very typical for Daytona, the iconic S setup. The first rhythm section could see a 3-3 for those that want to swing wide but I would expect an inside line lead to a 1-2 then the standard supercross triple. A few rollers lead into a 180 at the far west end of the stadium.
A sandy exit of the 180 will challenge riders to triple onto a tabletop and then drop into a black sand section before a prototypical whoops section. Watch for these to break down significantly throughout the day and night. A tunnel jump leads riders back over the starting straight and into a few more black-sand sections. There are a few random singles tossed in but these sand-to-clay sections are very much Daytona.
Take a lap around the @RickyCarmichael signature designed course to see the challenges @SupercrossLIVE riders will face this Saturday!— Daytona International Speedway (@DAYTONA) March 4, 2021
From the iconic Daytona Beach sand, to the new over-under bridge and all the features you love from #DAYTONASX. pic.twitter.com/omAiYb1Bvp
A long 180 crosses under a tunnel and sets up for back-to-back sand sections. Riders will cross back over the tunnel (over-under bridge) before entering an option lane section. These lanes have a few oddly shaped single jumps which are again, typical for Daytona. They challenge riders to find a rhythm in a section specifically designed to disrupt rhythm.
A 180 at the far east end of the stadium sends riders down the longest rhythm section-straightaway on the Daytona layout. The ideal line would be to triple out of the corner, setting up for two more triples, a double, and a lead up to another standard supercross triple.
Upon landing the triple, riders will fire into a sand whoops section. These sand whoops could prove to be the trickiest obstacle on the entire course. Watch for passing and big time gaps to be made here and more importantly, they lead right into the finish line jump. If you’re looking for dramatic finishes, this could be the perfect setup.
After a wild 250SX West Region opener, we are back for another crack at it. Many of the contenders had horrendous Orlando results but most are back sans Jeremy Martin. I am torn between the desire to take a swing at many of the bounce-back candidates and my more conservative side wanting to ensure all of my picks being in that main event. The prudent move would be to find a balance of risk and safety but then again, Jeremy Martin felt pretty safe going into Orlando, didn’t he?
I think a rider like Jordan Bailey presents a nice opportunity. He’s a Floridian and Daytona’s dirt typically feels like home. Carson Mumford is surely due for a nice rebound, too. There are a few riders in that same boat, really. Stilez Robertson, Jarrett Frye, and Dilan Schwartz all fall into this category. If you’re wanting to play it a bit safer, you can still go with a rider like Alex Martin. His handicap (0) limits his upside a bit, but he’s also a near lock to qualify. A few others with that “safer” feel would be Mitchell Harrison, Jordon Smith, or Ryan Sipes.
In the 450SX, it’s a much different story. Taking huge risks has not been rewarded this season. The class is stacked, leaving many of those long-odds picks watching the main events. The rewards have come in the shape of value picks. Finding a rider like Marvin Musquin or Zach Osborne coming off a bad weekend has paid dividends [Editor's note: after this was posted, Osborne announced he would miss the Daytona Supercross due to a bulging disc in his back]. This weekend, there are a few that could replay this same scenario. Watch for Justin Brayton to pay off if he looks healthy in qualifying. At a 3 handicap, any result inside the top ten would pay handsomely. Jason Anderson is also in this category but at a -2 handicap, he will need a top five finish to really reward teams. I think the most prudent picks will be just outside of that elite tier. Riders like Shane McElrath, Benny Bloss, Vince Friese, Justin Bogle, Kyle Chisholm, and Brandon Hartranft could provide big upside assuming a strong night. There is always inherent risk with picking one of these privateers but fantasy success is always going to be found by navigating through risk vs. reward scenarios.
I get yelled at by 173 scooter-mounted Daytona security personnel for infractions ranging from mask slippage to line stepping.
Jason Weigandt sets a world record for most minutes announced in a 96-hour span.
A blooper cam is set up near the whoops section for the heat races. (Go watch last year’s 250 heats for context).
Chase Sexton sets the fastest lap in timed qualifying.
Both the 250SX East and West Region championships are officially sponsored by Clover Health Insurance.