Photos by Mike Emery | @emeryphoto
Where do we even begin? It seems like every weekend the season delivers yet another storybook race, and from the response of the fans it seems like people are going to be talking about this round for a while. Let's just dive in, it's Monday Kickstart time from East Rutherford…
– The day begun with news that Red Bull KTM's Marvin Musquin's signed a two-year contract extension. This is great news for him and the team, and secures him as a marquee contender for the brand (CLICK HERE to read more about this.) He was also the topic of the most conversation at the end of the night, and we’ll touch on that further down.
– Weather is always a factor in these open-air stadiums, and the crew was treated to another overnight storm that forced the schedule back two hours. They whipped it into shape, and the first free practice sessions were eliminated as a result. The soft dirt gave the riders a technical and challenging track, to say the least.
– When the gate dropped for the 250 main event, the fans were treated to a great come from behind victory via Rockstar Energy Racing Husqvarna's Zach Osborne. Zacho had the track dialed from the very first timed practice and showed that he was the guy to beat. He did what he had to do by winning, and let the cards fall behind him. And oh how they fell…
– News broke late into the night of Joey Savatgy's penalization after failing to re-enter the track safely at the same spot he crashed (CLICK HERE TO READ.) This was speculated by many right after it happened, but it wasn't until much later than the press conference that the official word came out. A docking of five positions put the Monster Energy/Pro Circuit/Kawasaki rider back to eighth place – taking back multiple earned points and leaving the top three contenders only one point apart going into Vegas. (Smith – 160/Osborne and Savatgy – 159) There will be fireworks in Vegas, we will guarantee you this.
– This 250 class drama hardly holds a candle to the premier 450 class, which had the entire MetLife Stadium screaming throughout the night. There are so many aspects to what commenced when the gate dropped for the main event, and the first catalyst to the madness was Eli Tomac's crash in the corner after inheriting the lead early on. This was a complete mistake on Eli's part, and left him in 16th position after regrouping. Speaking only about Eli, it wasn't his greatest day from the beginning. Considering he never looked "Tomac-fast" during practice, he was bested by the defending champ for the top qualifying time and barely squeaked into the main through the heat. For what has been a high bar set by only himself, Eli's mistake-ridden main was an end to a day he'd definitely rather forget. He's down, but not out – 9 points separate the two and as shown by recent weekends, anything can happen. It's a must-win/hope for some luck scenario as he rolls into Vegas.
– Speaking only about Ryan Dungey/Marvin Musquin debacle, there's no denying the speculation behind possible KTM team tactics and they were given questions head-on in the press conference (Watch that HERE.) Marvin and Ryan spoke of what was a great race, and Marvin discussed the mistake he made that let Dungey by for the win on the last lap. Whether or not team tactics were involved, the thing to remember here is that Eli's crash and following laps after that took him out of contention, giving Ryan Dungey a great advantage to begin with. What this final pass for the lead between the two teammates did was give Ryan three additional points on top of the six Eli had already given up at that time. Team tactics or not, nine points now separate the two and there's still one round left – anything can happen.
– Unrelated to anything that happened, the top riders in the 450 class were corralled post-race for drug testing via WADA (World Anti-Doping Agency.) This is a standard procedure of random testing, but as far as we know it’s the first time they have tested all year.
Manufacturer totals in the main events:
Suzuki – 6
KTM – 4
Honda – 4
Kawasaki – 4
Husqvarna – 2
Yamaha – 2
Yamaha – 10
Kawasaki – 4
Honda – 4
Suzuki – 2
KTM – 1
Husqvarna – 1