Dungey Leads Heading into Round 7


2/18/2016

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Let's start our weekend preview off by stating the not-so-obvious: Round 7 in Arlington is NOT the opening East Regional 250SX round. Historically, the first Texas round has been the East opener, but switching things up a bit this season, the opener has now been moved to next weekend's event at the Georgia Dome in Atlanta. This weekend's race at AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas, is Round 7 for both the 450SX and West Regional 250SX classes before the series heads further east so the "other half" can see what AMA Supercross is all about. It also marks being one-third of the way through the 2016 season. The east tracks will, of course, change quite a bit too as the races move inside of football stadiums (with the exception of Daytona) which necessitates differences in design, not to mention the dirt tends to be softer and more damp, rutting up more easily than out west. Arlington's soil, introduced last year, is a bit different in that it's somewhat sandier overall than many of the other "east" rounds.

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The apparently unstoppable Ryan Dungey is now 26 points in the lead (over Ken Roczen), which means he essentially has a throw-away main event and he'll still be leading the points chase. Clearly this is just about where he'd hoped to be by now, and his consistency has been matched only by his competition's lack thereof. Unlike there was in the Villopoto-era, Dungey's rock-solid racing every weekend is now plenty good enough for wins. While some pundits believe it's precisely because there's no Villopoto-level dominant rider to beat Dungey most weekends, it's also clear that the No. 1 is possibly riding the best he has during his entire career. There seem to be no kinks in the champ's armor this time around, and his confidence level is at an all-time high.

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Building over the past several races with podium finishes, Ken Roczen probably wishes for one less crash in 2016 - and that's the first turn incident at Anaheim 1. That may have harmed KRoc mentally just enough in the first couple of rounds to make the points difference we're seeing between Dungey and him at this stage. Roczen ran away with one win already this year, so it's clear he has the speed and endurance, but it seems he needs to get in front of Dungey in the beginning to do it again. Last year in Arlington Roczen was able to nail down a solid runner-up finish to, you guessed it, Ryan Dungey.

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Everyone's still waiting on the Eli Tomac they'd hoped would show up to actually arrive. In his second full season in the 450SX class, Tomac actually isn't doing as poorly as it may seem. His results thus far aren't far off where he was last year, just eleven points shy up to this point in the series. While he's currently sixth in points, last year he was fourth and had a win with two other podiums, whereas this season he's made a podium spot just once but has finished fourth three times. So, considering he started the season coming off a couple of major shoulder surgeries and a brand new bike and team, he's actually not doing bad at all. Last year he came on strong down the stretch with couple more wins and podium finishes, but then again Dungey had an 85 point lead by the time they got to Vegas so had nothing to gain by pushing Tomac's pace for the wins.

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Jason Anderson continues to impress, holding third in points - just seven down from Roczen. Following him closely though is a resurgent Cole Seely, who was absolutely on fire for San Diego II last weekend. With his win at A1, Anderson's results haven't gotten him back onto the podium again, although his consistency is outstanding with solid fourth place rides the last three weekends. The sophomore 450SX class rider is leaps and bounds faster and more consistent last year, where he ended up eighth in points. 

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450SX rookie Marvin Musquin, on the other hand, is not having the season he'd likely hoped for. Sitting seventh in points, he's visited the podium only once in six rounds. Also coming off an injured hand/wrist which he suffered through all of 2015, Musquin was a bit behind the eight ball when the season began. Let's not forget, though, that Marvin IS the 2015 East Regional 250SX champion, and he won it by a healthy margin (winning six of eight main events). He likes the east "style," and he's based in Florida which will make the travel much easier for him. Going out on a fairly solid limb here, look for Marvin to really start turning things around beginning this weekend in Arlington.

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Justin Bogle was one of several big-name 450SX riders who made their return from the injured reserve list last weekend in San Diego. Joining him was Trey Canard, Blake Baggett and Andrew Short. That's four top-tier riders to likely add to every 450SX main event, which will for sure shake things up a bit and further fill in some gaps that have opened due to injury. Still out are James Stewart (who should return either this weekend or in Atlanta), Justin Barcia (uncertain return), and Broc Tickle (who's ride has been filled temporarily by Jake Weimer).

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Round 7 of 9 for the West 250SX Regional series will certainly be another battle royale, as Joey Savatgy looks to preserve his three-point lead over Cooper Webb. It's been a bit of a surprise that Webb not only doesn't have a commanding points lead, but he has no lead at all. Suffering from a few miscues here and there, he's been matched several times by not only Savatgy but by the veteran Christian Craig, who's sitting thirteen points out of second in third place. Webb is not going to be happy with anything but a win, but neither will anyone else. 

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Savatgy looks to bring the old glory of a class title back to the Monster Energy/Pro Circuit/Kawasaki rig, as the team has been suffering quite a drought over the last few years after completely dominating for the previous decade (or two). He showed great speed and poise to nab the glory at San Diego II and looks to be on a bit of a run, so Arlington definitely promises to be a barn-burner between the top three seeds in 250SX West before their long break and return to racing in Santa Clara on April 2.

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That should just about catch us up as we begin the middle third of the season. Look for complete coverage on our Facebook page AMA Supercross Championship, Instagram @AMASupercross and AMASupercross.com for Live Timing & Scoring. If you're a SUPER Supercross fan, download our $0.99 smartphone app: "AMA SX" on iTunes and the Google Play store. TV schedules are available at Supercrossonline.com.


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