After a one week trip back to the west coast, the AMA Supercross caravan rolled back across the country and landed in downtown Indianapolis' Lucas Oil Stadium for this weekend's Round 13. That means returning to the 250SX East Region, where those riders will race their fifth of eight rounds. The track in Indy features one of the longest start straightaways of the season, and a couple of the most unique rhythm sections. In addition, the surface will certainly be soft enough to rut up extensively, allowing the riders with that certain type of rut-loving style to excel here.
Before we get too involved with the next round, let's take a look back at Round 12 in Santa Clara last Saturday. While it may seem somewhat predictable that Ryan Dungey pulled off another win, it didn't seem so obvious based on the actual racing action. The first 450SX heat race was great, especially considering that former multi-time champ James Stewart managed to keep the current champ honest all the way to the finish line. Dungey didn't let the bit of pressure get to him in the main event though, and after a holeshot he looked to be checking out. Second in points Ken Roczen was having none of that though, pressuring the #5 hard before relenting and settling back into second at the end. With that, Dungey opens the points gap even more to 42 over Roczen. With his Santa Clara win, the champ has now earned 278 of a possible 300 points via six main event wins, four second places finishes and two thirds. He hasn't finished off the podium this season. That, folks, is consistency and dare we say it: Dominance.
The fans in Santa Clara were very enthusiastic about James Stewart's latest return to the 2016 season, and this time things went quite well for the iconic #7. After the aforementioned outstanding heat race second place finish, Stewart and crew were betting on great things in the main event - and at first, things were looking great. Moving from ninth to sixth in just a few laps, Stewart was looking like he was again ready to make mincemeat of the competition until he suddenly slowed dramatically around Lap 5. Clearly something mechanical was amiss as he slipped back into the pack and finally pulled off. After his crew worked feverishly on the bike, he pulled out of the stadium and back to the pits with a mechanical failure. Stewart has something to prove and, if post-race interviews are any indication, the fire is back and so is the confidence. Look out Indy, James Stewart is back!
Equally impressive was fellow veteran and Stewart's arch-rival Chad Reed's performance. Showing that with a solid (fifth-ish place) start he has what it takes to run at the front, Reed stayed solid for the entire 20 laps to end up just off the podium in fourth. Reed has had a generally solid season, with the high points being podiums in Rounds 2 and 3. Sitting sixth in points, he's only four down from Marvin Musquin and...
...based on Musquin's luck in Santa Clara, things are looking good for Reed to move into the top 5 after Indy. After a practice incident that left the #25 Frenchman obviously favoring his left wrist/hand, his night show rides were essentially just to get out onto the track and salvage a few points and hope for the best in Indy. Barely able to pull on his glove to make the starting line for his heat race, Marvin toughed it out, started up front in the main event, and salvaged four points. We haven't heard yet if Musquin will make it to Indy, but if he does, you can be sure he'll still be licking the wounds from last weekend.
Santa Clara was a brief foray back into the West Regional 250SX series, as the west coasters completed their eighth of nine rounds. In control for most of the night was points leader and defending champ Cooper Webb, who was perfect all night long. Webb walks the walk and talks the talk of confidence, and backs it up on the track every time he gets on it. He seems to be a racer's racer by all accounts, and the harder the racing is, the more he has to work to get the win and the more at home he feels. While Webb won't be in Indy this weekend, his teammate Aaron Plessinger and...
... points leader Malcolm Stewart will be. Stewart's riding a wave of confidence after a great ride in Detroit that gave him the points lead heading into the final east coast push to the Vegas finale. This Stewart brother has never been in this position before, so Indy will be an interesting test to see how he responds to being the front-runner in a championship title race. He looks to have quite a strut of confidence on the track and, at this point, seems to have few consistent challengers despite a seemingly strong field of contenders. Heading up the pack of seemingly strong competitors is...
...none other than 250 outdoor motocross champion Jeremy Martin. Clearly struggling with the track in Detroit, Martin came in with the points lead and left seven points behind. It was not a good night for Martin and honestly, Indy couldn't go much worse, right? It's almost mind-boggling how Martin seems to struggle with Supercross when his talent and fitness (not to mention machinery) is so clearly on-point. What's even more puzzling is his inconsistency, as there are times where he has clearly been the fastest rider on the track but on those occasions he's typically dicing through the pack after a crash or poor start (or both). His desire and will to win certainly can't be questioned though, and there's plenty of time for Jeremy to pull it all together and take this title. But with Stewart's confidence, he needs to start making up points this weekend if he's to pull off his first 250SX AMA Supercross title.
We'll close out with a photo we borrowed from the @starracingyamaha Instagram account. It illustrates perfectly the little something extra that's planned for this weekend, which is the retro theme. Many of the teams, riders, bikes and gear manufacturers will put their best design-foot forward with their favorite retro graphics and gear setups. Above, the Star Racing Yamaha YZ250F of Jeremy Martin boasts a mid-80's yellow and black scheme.
Round 13 of the 2016 AMA Supercross Championship looks again to provide a great night of racing in Indianapolis. Look for complete coverage on our Instagram account - @AMASupercross, our Facebook page AMA Supercross Championship, and right here at 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.