Written by Nick Thiel
Back to the stomping grounds of the MX Sports crew we go, none other than Steel City. This track has hosted some of the most memorable racing of any of the stops on the tour. Whether it be Ricky Carmichael finishing off his perfect season or the epic battles that have gone down, Steel City bleeds MX history.
The 450 Class title was officially wrapped up at Unadilla
With the 450 championship all wrapped up for Ryan Dungey, the gate will drop Saturday strictly for bragging rights. Nothing about the 250 class will be for bragging rights though. Blake Baggett has a 24-point lead over Justin Barcia and is still the man to beat. Barcia has four motos of racing left to turn this championship race around, and there's no better place than Steel City to do it.
This is a track that has stripped championship hopes from some of the best, like Grant Langston. I can remember it vividly - Grant Langston sitting on the sidelines after the rear wheel came apart on his KTM 125, dashing his hopes for the outdoor national title. He could only sit and watch as Mike Brown raced away to take the championship.
Baggett's been outstanding, but he can't afford to turn in a DNF
Steel City can be amazing to some and brutal to others. Could something like the Grant Langston story happen to Blake Baggett, in turn tightening the championship race up, into a 1 point battle? Or will Baggett be able to leave unscathed and still be the man with the red plate? As a fan, I would love for the battle to go down to the last moto at Elsinore, but it's highly unlikely at this point.
As I said earlier, Saturday will be strictly for bragging rights in the 450 Class now that Ryan Dungey has the #1 plate secured. Mike Alessi will definitely be out for blood, looking to prove that he should have been one of the men on the MXDN team. Alessi has done extremely well for himself this summer and has been riding his heart out. He leaves it all on the track every moto, and you have to respect the guy for that. Dungey will definitely be out for redemption though, after last year's dramatic moto that ended with him getting passed in the last corner of the last lap by Ryan Villopoto for the win. It was a brilliant pass on Villopoto’s part, but I wouldn’t be one bit surprised if the memories of that cause Dungey to look for vengeance on Saturday.
After being snubbed by Team USA, Mike Alessi should be very motivated to close out the year strong
Although Steel City isn’t quite as close in style to the European tracks as other tracks on the circuit - Unadilla being an example - I have a feeling Marvin Musquin and Ken Roczen will have a great shot here. The off-camber corners and extremely fast sections will suit the KTM boys well. After Kenny took his first moto win and Marvin took his first overall, they’ll be hungry, and out of the two rounds left, I could see it coming together here for them. As always in the 250 Class, you will see some of the best racing that the series has witnessed in recent years.
Roczen finally got that long-awaited moto win to build off of
Thanks for checking out the Friday night preview, and be sure to tune in, as both motos will be televised live, with first motos also streaming live on Allisports.com. I have a feeling this weekend is going to bring some truly incredible racing. And if you can’t get next to a TV, be sure to tune in on twitter at @americanmx and @allisports for updates throughout the day.