Four more to go! The second of three Atlanta rounds is up next and after a rain-soaked round 13, I am excited for a dry race. We got a nice teaser for how this speedway venue will shape up under normal conditions and this could be a bit of a “re-do” on what we could have seen Saturday. The quick turnaround puts pressure on the Dirt Wurx crew to make adjustments and get the course ready for another event but it’s the timing loops and finish line structure that are the main reason for similar designs. Those infrastructure aspects take a full day to disassemble and relocate, before starting assembly yet again. Given that, changing the direction of the track makes the most sense. The jumps can be reshaped in the other direction to effectively change the entire feel of the race, without having to touch the electronic equipment beneath.
Dirty Little Secrets
The start for round 14 is exactly the same as last Saturday. The tight 180 caused a few crashes and I would expect more to ensue. There is a 2-3 section immediately upon turning so watch for those at the front to gain a quick advantage by executing the rhythm. The interesting thing about these jumps is that they will be hit in both directions. On the start, this first section will be jumped in the same fashion as Saturday but on every other lap, they will be approached in the opposite direction in the normal flow of the layout.
Riders will make this cross over and head the opposite direction of Saturday’s track. A giant double is up next, leading into a fairly straight forward 2-3 combination of which the triple is the standard supercross triple variety.
A long sweeping 180 leads riders into a whoops section (remember these are the same obstacles in the opposite direction as Saturday) and immediately into a 180 left. These whoops were incredibly tough on Saturday so watch for any fundamental change in approach.
Exiting the 180, the toughest rhythm section of the track awaits. This section has a minimum of 12 obstacles so it’s impossible to say exactly how everyone will decide to attack it but I do like a particular option. Riders can triple out of the corner, landing on a tabletop. They can then hop off and hit the next small double. A step-on step-off is up next and then a triple into the next corner. The main reason I like this option is that riders are able to stay lower and skip off tabletops which is usually the fastest option. They are also able to avoid launching off the taller jumps in lieu of landing on their downside. That also keeps riders low and fast, the goal in every situation.
A step-on step-off is up next, right out of a 90-degree left. If possible, jumping over the tabletop might be ideal, allowing riders to double cleanly out of the section instead of being forced to single. Another 90 is next, this time to the right, leading into a fast long rhythm section. Riders will use the inside line and double over a tall single jump, setting them up to triple their way through the next 9 jumps. These three triples are of varying degrees of difficulty with the first one being most challenging.
The end of this section marks the far end of the speedway and a 180 right sends riders back towards the infield. This next section was built much differently than what the track map offered for Round 13 so I will anticipate what I saw on the track versus what I saw on the track map. There were several rolling whoops built in and out of the next few “S” turns, slowing riders and forcing them to either blitz or attempt to find a rhythm. This weaving design wasn’t ideal for passing as the inside became the outside and vice versa, disallowing riders to really position themselves for a move.
Another standard triple is up next and leads directly into the finish line jump. These jumps were very tricky in Saturday’s mud but shouldn’t present much of a challenge on Tuesday. A bend to the right leads into an off-cambered, elevated left hand corner. Watch for a clear inside and outside line to develop as riders choose between a slow, calculated creep around the inside or a faster outside that allows riders to double out of the corner.
Speeds ramp up on the exit of the off-camber and carry into the sand section. These sand whoops weren’t much of a storyline on Saturday so watch for any change with the directional flip.
The final rhythm section of the track is comprised of eight similarly built jumps. There are typically a few ways to approach a section like this. The most likely will be either 3-3-2, 3-2-3, or 2-3-3. The choice is usually made by the makeup of the corner before and how much opportunity for speed to be achieved accordingly. The fastest choice is almost always the 3-3-2 so watch for that to be the goal.
A fast single sends riders flying across the start straight diagonally and into lap two.
Fantasy SX/MX might be the most infuriating aspect of my life. Regardless, we are going to wind it up again and see what Tuesday brings. There were several overachievers at the last round and several laggards, too. I am going to be looking for the “bounceback” plays to earn maximum points. Those riders that had bad days are on high alert for a nice rebound with the quick turnaround and drier conditions.
Both Dilan Schwartz (11) and Sean Cantrell (16) could pay big points after a tough return to the series. Jarrett Frye also missed the main event and should easily qualify Tuesday given normal conditions. Chris Blose (0) is back into double points territory and is a solid top ten guy. Also watch for Carson Mumford (10) to find his way back into the main event after a tough weekend.
For the 450SX Class, I still don’t believe high risk picks are the way to go. The 450 main event is simply too difficult to qualify for. Riders like Josh Hill (14) , Dean Wilson (2) , and Justin Starling (14) all missed the main event while Alex Ray (13), Kevin Moranz (13) , and Cade Clason (11) found their way in. Guessing who will do well and who won’t is just too much to ask when the levels are so similar (except for Deano). Picking from this group can pay dividends but it’s also very likely to end poorly. It’s purely guessing in my opinion.
I would instead stick with the blue chip opportunities. Dean Wilson (3) is very much in this situation for Tuesday, along with Marvin Musquin (2). A lesser opportunity but still in this conversation would be Chase Sexton (-3) but with that negative handicap, he will need to outperform to pay off. I would only green light a Sexton pick if you are confident in a podium finish for the #23.
Dean Wilson arrives to Atlanta Motor Speedway wearing face paint and a kilt.
Jason Anderson finishes on the podium after being allowed to race with a gear shifter.
After another brutal fantasy outing, I swan dive out of the Atlanta Motor Speedway press box.
Aaron Plessinger is the fastest qualifier.