From balmy downtown Atlanta to frigid Toronto, Canada, the 2017 AMA Supercross Championship has not failed to deliver this year. The Rogers Center has been a long-time venue that's offered some of the most interesting and unpredictable racing in the sport's history. This weekend's Round 9 promises more of the same.
Points leader and defending champion Ryan Dungey came out of Atlanta's Round 8 with a bit of an extension on his points lead after a perfect ride in the 450SX Main Event. Now a full 25 points ahead of his teammate Marvin Musquin in 2nd place, Dungey has at least a bit of breathing room as he heads into the second half of the 2017 season.
Despite an impressive ride from around eighth to second, Eli Tomac came up a couple seconds shy of catching Dungey in the main event. In the process, he gave up three critical points and it was clear he wasn't completely happy with the result. Tomac was definitely on the move, but giving up a clear track to Ryan Dungey for the entire race is a tough obstacle to overcome, even for a rider like Tomac. But he did gain six points on Musquin for second in the standings, although that's not much consolation for a guy who clearly to win.
Blake Baggett was the latest addition to the 2017 series podium, scoring his second podium finish after racing several years in the 450SX class. Fast all day - even winning his heat race - Baggett ran second for much of the main event before finally succumbing to the pressure of Tomac. Whether or not he can carry that success into Toronto remains to be seen, but the following weekend's race in Daytona will be his showcase, as he's a former outdoor motocross champion and Daytona is the site of his only other 450SX class podium. In other words, BB4 is on an upswing and everyone is excited to see how he fends in Toronto.
Dungey's training partner, teammate and good friend, Marvin Musquin, is also his biggest competition. While Atlanta was a bit of an off-night for the Frenchman, Musquin is expected to be back up front in Toronto this weekend. Marvin's been showing a little more aggression, which is uncharacteristic for him. It's clear that he belongs at the front of the pack and could threat for wins every weekend.
Earning his first supercross win if his career, Zach Osborne put in a ride at the Georgia Done that was dominating. Smooth, fast, persistent and mistake-free, Osborne's years of experience shined while other riders floundered trying to keep his pace. With the win, Osborne get the red plate as the series points leader -- also for the first time in his career -- and takes it away from Joey Savatgy, as he maintains a two point lead.
While Joey Savatgy didn't exactly have a bad night in Atlanta, he didn't pull off a win or beat Osborne, which are both things he needed to do to secure a lead in the points. Savatgy has all of the tools needed to be a 250SX Champion, but the one person standing in his way is Osborne. To get the points lead back, Joey really needs to step up his game and come out swinging in Toronto. Both riders seem evenly matched and seem to be the clear-cut favorites for the East Coast title.
Alex Martin made his first podium appearance in the 250SX class after an impressive ride in Atlanta. Alex looked great in Atlanta, even though he had a rough start at round one. His finish should carry a wave of confidence into Toronto this weekend.
Another first-time podium appearance was made by Star Racing Yamaha's newest recruit Colt Nichols. Although he made several mistakes and had crashes, Nichols was still fast enough to move forward throughout the Main Event to finish on the podium. It was an impressive race for a rider who's still quite early in his Supercross career. He is definitely a rider to keep an eye on in Toronto and other future rounds.
Toronto's Rogers Centre will host Round 9 with temperatures expected to be frigid. Historically, the dirt has been somewhat questionable and sometimes even frozen while the track was being built, but this year the dirt has been stored in a climate controlled area and should allow for much more predictable conditions.
To catch all of the action for Round 9, visit www.amasupercross.com for live timing and scoring.
Also, visit the AMA Supercross Championship Facebook page and @amasupercross on Instagram.