Wednesday 12th & Thursday 13th December: Tracks closed. The rain up here in the hills keeps coming.

10 Things to Watch: Atlanta

US Supercross 2016

maddix park mx

By: Aaron Hansel, Jason Weigandt and Chase Stallo www.racerxonline.com 

The East Begins

Perhaps the most exciting part of a new series is that you’re never quite sure what’s going to happen, and that’s especially true in this year’s 250SX East Region Championship. There are a ton of guys who can go fast, but there’s no clear cut favorite, and if you were to ask ten different people who’s going to win the title, you just might get ten different answers! That could change this weekend though. When the checkers fly we’ll have a better idea of what the championship landscape will look like. –Aaron Hansel

Going for More

It’s official, Ryan Dungey can indeed lose a race even when he gets a good start. Ken Roczen, who sits second in points, proved that last week in Arlington by emerging victorious after a twenty-lap head-to-head battle. It’s a small thing for now, but Roczen’s win also cuts Dungey’s points lead back under one whole race worth—from 26 to 23 points. This race will make a bigger difference if it boosts Roczen’s confidence enough to get him a few more wins. He needs to keep this going if he wants to keep chipping away. –Hansel

Can Roczen make it two in a row this weekend?
Can Roczen make it two in a row this weekend?Cudby

Looking for #2

Rockstar Energy Husqvarna Factory Racing’s Jason Anderson hasn’t been a factor up front since his stunning win at the season opener in Anaheim, but he got a little bit closer in Arlington with a return to the podium. He even won his heat race too, which gave him a great gate pic for the main. That translated to a decent start, around fifth, but once he’d worked into third Roczen and Dungey were gone. We’ll see what happens in Atlanta if Anderson keeps making gains with his starts. –Hansel

#SevenRounds

Earlier in the year Christophe Pourcel told us it would take him about seven races to get back into the swing of supercross, and lo and behold, he had his best night of the year at last weekend at round seven. Pourcel rode hard, even battling for positions and ended up eight, significantly better than his previous season high of twelfth. If Pourcel is indeed back on the gas, it wouldn’t be a shocker to see him fighting for a top five. –Hansel

Charging Forward

They don’t give out awards for the most heart, but if they did Red Bull KTM’s Marvin Musquin would take the cake for his come-from-behind ride in Arlington. And when we say behind, we’re talking way, way behind—the Frenchman was in dead last after one lap. That didn’t keep him from charging though, and when the checkers came out he’d worked all the way up to sixth. The speed is obviously there, and if he can pair it with a good start in Atlanta he could get back on the podium. -Hansel

Reed it and Weep?

What happened to Chad Reed? He looked awesome at Anaheim 1, then looked like Ryan Dungey’s closest competitor with runner-up rides at rounds two and three. Since then he’s trended backwards with 5-6-8-12 finishes. Beyond the results, he just hasn’t had the same spark on the track, either. Reed needs a rebound, but Atlanta could be the place to get one—he won this race one year ago. – Jason Weigandt

Stars

As Hansel pointed out above, there isn’t a clear-cut favorite in the 250SX East Region. As of this writing, the top two vote-getters in our recent online poll are Yamalube/Star Racing Yamaha teammates Jeremy Martin and Aaron Plessinger. Martin, a two-time Lucas Oil Pro Motocross Champion, is hoping that Johnny O’Mara (who was by Ricky Carmichael’s side when RC turned into a premier-class SX winning machine) can bring him a step closer to his first title in supercross. In his second year, Plessinger is a popular “sleeper” pick for title after winning 2015 SX Rookie of the Year honors. Will the teammates pick up where Cooper Webb left off in the West Region? - Chase Stallo

Health is a Concern

Five 250SX East pre-season contenders—Shane McElrath, RJ Hampshire, Tyler Bowers, Arnaud Tonus and Matt Bisceglia—enter the opener with their health under the microscope. Bowers (back and Epstein-Barr) and Tonus (Epstein-Barr) each missed a portion of last year and were slowed this off-season. At points this off-season, Hampshire (head) and McElrath (wrist) weren’t expected to even race supercross. Meanwhile, Biseglia is coming off two shoulder injuries and hasn’t had much time on the bike. As the season progresses we’ll know more about where each stand, but the opener is up in the air. - Stallo

Cutting out the Big Mistakes

If GEICO Honda’s Malcolm Stewart is to win his first title, it will come down to cutting out the big mistakes. Since 2014, he’s had five finishes of fifteenth or worse (16-21-22-17-21) that have cost him a chance at a title. In the other fourteen races, he’s averaged a 4.2 finish and finished on the podium seven times (or 50 percent). Stewart’s title chances took a hit at the 250SX West Region opener a season ago with a twenty-second—let’s see if he can change the tune this weekend. – Stallo

Even More Contenders

Believe it or not, there are even more contenders aside from the ones listed above. Veterans Justin Hill and Martin Davalos are on most people’s short list to at least contend for race wins, if not the title. With TLD KTM making the first foray into the East Region in team history, Hill is hoping to rebound from an injury-plagued 2015 season. Same goes for Davalos, who missed time with Epstein-Barr a season ago. Like we’ve been saying, this is anyone’s game. - Stallo 

 
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