Three Races left in Dungey's Career: Tomac vs Dungey


Chris Cooksey

Three rounds left in Dungey's Supercross career: Tomac vs. Dungey 

All the recent talk in Monster Energy AMA Supercross has been centered on Dungey and his mental state, but what about Eli?  Doesn’t anyone remember Eli floundering in 2013 in Salt Lake City?  How about Las Vegas in 2011?  This season, other than the first few rounds, Eli has been pressure free with his only task to go out and win.  Now with the points tied (Tomac owns the tie breaker) the pressure falls directly on his shoulders.  With two weeks before SLC, how is he dealing with the pressure?  Has he matured from his 2013 and 2011 chokes or is he doomed to repeat the same mistakes he is prone too, (Colorado 2015 huge crash, Dallas 2017 smashed front brake and Seattle 2017 endo in Main)?  Eli is in for a stressful month and Dungey is the underdog that can ride with nothing to lose.  Let's not forget Eli struggled with arm pump early in the season and two things that contribute to arm pump are stress and high altitude, SLC will have both. Dungey also has quite a bit of helpers available if needed.  Baggett, Millsaps and Musquin are racing Dungey as if he signs their paychecks.  I am not saying team orders have been given, but who really wants to be the guy who costs KTM a Championship without having a contract for next season?  Millsaps didn't fight Dungey very hard for 4th place in Seattle, in fact it looked like he moved out of the way. With three races left in Dungey's career (assuming he is retiring this year) I look for him to pressure Eli into a mistake taking his 4th SX title and riding off into the sunset as the champion.

In the 250 class Arron Plessinger looked like a world beater!  He was the only rider, other than Tomac in the 450 class, to go 3/3/3 in the rhythm section.  Plessinger is a bit of an enigma, sometimes he looks like the fastest rider on earth but only in bursts.  If he could harness his speed he could be a superstar, maybe a move to the 450 class is what he needs.  We all know he is good on deteriorating tracks, if he could translate this speed to a regular track he could be a contender on a 450.  If I were him I would be talking to RCH, Kawasaki and KTM about a 450 ride in 2018.  Justin Hill did exactly what a guy with a 21 point lead and three rounds left should do, ride to a safe 2nd place.  Hill is another guy that should be shopping for a 450 ride but not because it suits him better but once he wins he has earned enough points out of the 250 class.  If I were Kawasaki I would politely tell Josh Grant his services won't be needed in 2018 and put Hill there.  

With three rounds left in the 2017 Monster Energy AMA Supercross series it is shaping up to be one for the ages.  If this is Dungey’s swan song, win or lose, what a way to go out.  With a week off before SLC some guys will be testing outdoors but don't look for Eli or Dungey to be riding anything but Supercross during their Easter break.  I will be in SLC for the race and yes the post-race press conference.  This is my first press conference since the infamous Glendale “no crown incident.”  Let me know the questions you want asked.

5 people like this




User Feedback


Eli's technique on the Kawasaki seems to have changed early in this season. He rides the rear wheel more and uses outside lines more. Has Villopoto been helping him in some way? 

1 person likes this

Share this comment


Link to comment
Share on other sites

He does seem to be riding the rear more, I don't think Villapoto has anything to with his setup.  Villapoto is the rider coach for Jeremy Martin.  I think it is more the linkage change they made before Glendale.  

 

Share this comment


Link to comment
Share on other sites

Ok on the coaching part. My guess is that someone took notice of how well that technique worked for Villopoto and he incorporated that into his practice sessions. I should make the distinction that I was referring to using the rear in turns to pivot. As far as using the rear wheel thru whoops, rhythm sections etc, he's setting a new bar similar to Stewarts scrub technique as something others will be sure to emulate and we've seem him doing that on the Honda before. 

1 person likes this

Share this comment


Link to comment
Share on other sites

I live at 5,800. Arm pump is more a hereditary condition that is exacerbated by elevation. I'm a Dungey fan but don't see arm pump as a likely problem but stress. Yea, it can not only influence physical problems but cognitive ones as well.  

1 person likes this

Share this comment


Link to comment
Share on other sites

I believe he lived there during the first 3 rounds when he suffered severe arm pump.  I think the combination of pressure, altitude and cold weather could cause his arm pump to return... maybe.

1 person likes this

Share this comment


Link to comment
Share on other sites

Sure hope not Chris. As mentioned I'm a Dungey fan but above that I'm a bigger fan of MX. Though I want Dungey to win, I want him to win against Eli at his best. One things for sure, as fans, the potential for a truly epic showdown in Vegas is almost a certainty barring injury or an MDNF. Momentum has been Eli's friend recently but in part, I agree that no one should underestimate the weight that carrying the Red plate puts on a rider. Can't help but recall the Bradshaw vs Stanton battle for the championship. If there ever was a prooftext as to what stress can do, that was it. 

Share this comment


Link to comment
Share on other sites

Tomac's arm pump was due to being uncomfortable with his bike and holding on too tight. Elevation has nothing to do with it. Obviously, they have found a set up that works for his style and he looks better on the bike now than even in his Geico 450 days. I was in Seattle this weekend, and there was absolutely no doubt that Eli was the fastest guy on the track. His crash was due to taking a different line to make a pass that resulted in too much wheel spin to make the double. 

All of the pressure is on Ryan. There isn't anyone who would argue that Eli has everyone covered on speed at this point, and he has also proven that he can come through the pack after a bad start. So the only thing Ryan has in his corner for beating Eli in these last few rounds are a first turn crash for Eli, or a big mistake that results in a wreck. Eli knows he is faster, and is proving it every weekend. So why would he all of a sudden have a breakdown and feel pressure? He is in the ultimate position. It is Ryan that knows that he let a 20+ point lead slip away and there wasn't anything he could do about it.  

Plessinger, Tomac, Decotis, Hill, McElrath, Brayton, Millsaps, and Webb all pulled off the 3-3-3 section. Seeing it on TV did it no justice!! Those ruts were a foot deep in between each jump. There is no way a mortal would uncork a triple in those conditions, let alone committing to doing them in a series. I was blown away. Much, much respect for all of those guys. I'd be willing to bet that the majority of us couldn't have made a full lap around that track without crashing - not to mention doing it at the ridiculous speeds that those professionals can maintain for 22 minutes... 

1 person likes this

Share this comment


Link to comment
Share on other sites

Well I live a 7K and ride at 7k to 8.5k, arm pump has little to do with elevation.  I say this with confidence, as I get it just as bad at sea level......

I love Dungey, I believe him to be a great person, and an excellent representative of our sport.  I wish him the best.  This is Tomac's moment, and I believe he will win the championship this year (It was Roczen's prior to the crash).  

I say this because all stress is on Dungey, not Tomac.  Dungey is the champ getting beat down, Tomac is the rising star (riding a huge wave of confidence).  May the best man win. 

I wish to thank both of them for making this year's 450 SX interesting.  

 

Share this comment


Link to comment
Share on other sites

As a 3 time champ and defending champ, it seems to me all the pressure is on RD. Tomac's team just needs to focus on Eli doing the same weekly routine he's been doing and putting no pressure on him. Let the cards fall where they will sort of mentality. What ever he's doing, it for sure is working for him and the Kawi team. Dungey needs a start, something he hasn't had in a long time. And KTM needs to divert his focus from the fact that they blew a nearly 30 point lead in the series and focus on what's ahead.

2 people like this

Share this comment


Link to comment
Share on other sites

Now is the time for Tomac to forever put the "old" Eli Tomac behind him for good, or there will never be a "new" Eli Tomac.  The past few years pulling "a Tomac" is synonymous for choking and making a retarded mistake.  I'm a big fan of Dungey's, he has done wonders for the sport and the image, but it is Tomac's time...I hope.  (And being a local boy I really have to root for him ;) )

1 person likes this

Share this comment


Link to comment
Share on other sites

My opinion only...Dungy has been at the top for a lot of years, and in all honesty, nothing to prove to anyone but himself.  Also, there comes a time when the passing of the torch will inevitably happen.  This may be the year but IMO Dungy has given it his all for a long time.  I'd hate to see him retire but, I also understand the toll that being a top shelf SX/MX racer takes on you physically and mentally.  My only question is....will Roger also retire.

Edited by yzernie
1 person likes this

Share this comment


Link to comment
Share on other sites

Been a Dungey fan since I first saw Roger taking interest in him. I'd love to see the story book ending where the reigning champ pulls out the championship at the last race and retires the champ. I'm also ready to move on regardless, realizing that even if that doesn't happen, he'll still be a formidable champ in the record books and I'll be choosing the next "Dungey" to cheer for. 

Share this comment


Link to comment
Share on other sites
On 4/11/2017 at 9:23 PM, Spooge said:

Well I live a 7K and ride at 7k to 8.5k, arm pump has little to do with elevation.  I say this with confidence, as I get it just as bad at sea level......

I love Dungey, I believe him to be a great person, and an excellent representative of our sport.  I wish him the best.  This is Tomac's moment, and I believe he will win the championship this year (It was Roczen's prior to the crash).  

I say this because all stress is on Dungey, not Tomac.  Dungey is the champ getting beat down, Tomac is the rising star (riding a huge wave of confidence).  May the best man win. 

I wish to thank both of them for making this year's 450 SX interesting.  

 

Try living at sea level and racing at altitude... It affects me!

 

Share this comment


Link to comment
Share on other sites
On 4/11/2017 at 11:20 AM, timberview01 said:

Tomac's arm pump was due to being uncomfortable with his bike and holding on too tight. Elevation has nothing to do with it. Obviously, they have found a set up that works for his style and he looks better on the bike now than even in his Geico 450 days. I was in Seattle this weekend, and there was absolutely no doubt that Eli was the fastest guy on the track. His crash was due to taking a different line to make a pass that resulted in too much wheel spin to make the double. 

All of the pressure is on Ryan. There isn't anyone who would argue that Eli has everyone covered on speed at this point, and he has also proven that he can come through the pack after a bad start. So the only thing Ryan has in his corner for beating Eli in these last few rounds are a first turn crash for Eli, or a big mistake that results in a wreck. Eli knows he is faster, and is proving it every weekend. So why would he all of a sudden have a breakdown and feel pressure? He is in the ultimate position. It is Ryan that knows that he let a 20+ point lead slip away and there wasn't anything he could do about it.  

Plessinger, Tomac, Decotis, Hill, McElrath, Brayton, Millsaps, and Webb all pulled off the 3-3-3 section. Seeing it on TV did it no justice!! Those ruts were a foot deep in between each jump. There is no way a mortal would uncork a triple in those conditions, let alone committing to doing them in a series. I was blown away. Much, much respect for all of those guys. I'd be willing to bet that the majority of us couldn't have made a full lap around that track without crashing - not to mention doing it at the ridiculous speeds that those professionals can maintain for 22 minutes... 

Plessinger and Tomac were the only ones to do it consistently.

 

Share this comment


Link to comment
Share on other sites
1 minute ago, Chris Cooksey said:

Try living at sea level and racing at altitude... It affects me!

 

Gotcha, but the fact is, Eli Tomac lives in a place that is higher in altitude than Salt Lake City.

1 person likes this

Share this comment


Link to comment
Share on other sites

I got it wrong as to when the mistake would be made, but pretty close.

 

[With three races left in Dungey's career (assuming he is retiring this year) I look for him to pressure Eli into a mistake taking his 4th SX title and riding off into the sunset as the champion.]

1 person likes this

Share this comment


Link to comment
Share on other sites

Well, indirectly. Once you have to carry the Red Plate, you realize you have something to lose and everyone else wants it. All of the sudden, everyone around you is telling you to do something different than before. If you buy into that you've now changed everything about what got you there in the first place and are riding in uncharted territory. No longer feeling that you have nothing to lose, you naturally attempt to protect what you have and overthink each obstacle. Still, it's far from over.  

Edited by MotoXImage
Wrong word

Share this comment


Link to comment
Share on other sites


Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Reply with:


  • Similar Content

    • By Chris Cooksey

      Congratulations to Ryan Dungey on his highly successful racing career!   He will go down as one of the all-time greats in the sport of Motocross and Supercross.  While the sport is beneficial with Dungey’s participation, the sport will survive without it.  After hearing his retirement speech, at his personal press conference, I am curious to see how he handles retirement.  Retirement for professional athletes can be tough.  Athletes define themselves by their skills and Dungey's entire life has been dedicated to the goal of winning.  Once winning is no longer an athlete’s sole goal in life, depression can take hold.  The identity of their professional self dies and they are forced to reinvent themselves.  In the heat of the moment Dungey probably wished he was normal and didn't have the intense pressure or stress anymore.  While this is true, he will still miss the adoration of so many fans.  He will never be able to recreate the feeling of crossing the line to win a Supercross Championship.  His life will be full of great joy and good times but the feeling of being Champion cannot be replicated.

      Ryan Dungey will be remembered as one of the hardest working and determined riders in the sport’s history.  This skill will help him moving forward or it will be his downfall.  Unfortunately, professional athletes are not held to normal societal rules and many are socially inept.  They are so used to everything being geared towards them and their goals.   In retirement they are expected to instantly become regular people.  They no longer receive special treatment or have an entire team geared toward assisting them reach their goals.  They lose many “friends” who were there to feed off their fame and fortune.  This is devastating to their psyche.  Dungey will need to learn how to widen his focus.  The tunnel vision required to be a Champion can alienate an athlete in regular society.  Retiring athletes often have an identity crisis when it all ends.  During their careers they have a team of people helping them focus and move forward.  When they retire this giant support system shrinks to a few people and things can feel lonely.

      In the next couple years Ryan and Lindsay will be challenged in their relationship.  The divorce rate for professional athletes upon retirement is extremely high, their relationship dynamic will completely change.  I have heard many people say, “He is rich and has a hot wife, life is good!”  While this is true many professional Motocross racers don't have the money to sit back and reflect.  Ryan has the money to allow the nothingness of retirement set in.  Ryan doesn't need to enter the regular workforce and will have a lot of time on his hands.  Ryan will have to find a new motivation for getting up in the morning, much like Kevin Windham.  He might want to give Windham a call and allow Windham to explain the emotional roller coaster that lies ahead, and unlike his professional career this will be played out in private.
      While we celebrate Ryan Dungey and his historic career achievements, I am concerned for him as a human being.  I don't think Ryan will go very far from the sport, he has too much to offer.   Hopefully he will make the transition and embrace his new life in whatever role he chooses.  RD5 is no longer his identity, he is now Ryan from Minnesota.  I personally appreciated Dungey this season as this was my first season in the Supercross media and he made it very memorable.  He answered my press conference questions honestly and didn’t hide his emotions.  I took a lot of heat after Glendale, but I wouldn't have it any other way.  He showed his human side, something he never showed earlier in his career.  

      If you want a perfect example of the struggles an athlete goes through upon retirement, check out the documentary State of Play: Happiness.  
      (Photos by LC)

    • By Chris Cooksey
      The 2017 Monster Energy Supercross Series is officially over.  Ryan Dungey clinched the Championship and I cannot remember another series more entertaining.  Obviously, I have to start with the 450 class and what could have been Ryan Dungey’s last Supercross race.  Going into the 2017 season all the talk centered on Ken Roczen and his new Honda, and Roczen did not disappoint.  He came out swinging in the first two rounds, winning the opener and out dueling Dungey in San Diego.  San Diego appeared to be the start of many storylines.  Dungey showed us he wasn't going down without a fight, and then ar A2 Roczen experienced his horrific crash and subsequent injury.  At this point message boards and industry insiders all speculated Dungey was on cruise control to his 4th title.  Eli Tomac was a favorite entering the series but after struggling for the first three rounds everybody was speculating about his bike, fitness and mental status.  Whatever he was battling in the first three rounds he quickly fixed, and the Glendale SX began Eli’s domination.  Where Eli dominated, Dungey's foundation began to crack.  In the postrace press conference Dungey broke character and let loose on me!
      Looking back it is clear Dungey’s motivation entering the 2017 season appeared to be aimed at Roczen.  When Roczen became injured , Dungey lost his motivation and was reminded of his mortality (similar to Rick Johnson the year after David Bailey became paralyzed).  But Dungey is not a champion by accident. While battling inner demons and a noticeable burnout he still maintained consistency and managed his point lead.  As many champions do, Dungey has established a ridiculous expectation from fans and media.  Anything less than a win had fans and media questioning, “What's wrong with Dungey?”  The season stress only increased for Dungey and he looked like he was ready to wave the white flag after Salt Lake City.  This shifted all pressure directly to Eli and it became his championship to lose.  Like Ricky Carmichael said, “the red plate pressure” had Eli floundering in East Rutherford.  Even if Marvin Musquin didn't pull over for Dungey in East Rutherford Ryan was leaving with the points lead heading into the final round in Las Vegas.

      Marvin Musquin pulling over and basically handing KTM and Dungey 3 points in East Rutherford could have turned into a poor strategic move by KTM.  Heading into Vegas, Dungey had a 9 point lead, and Musquin’s move justified in any tactics Eli chose in his attempt to claim the Championship.  From the pre-race press conference it was clear Tomac wasn't going down without a fight.  I spoke with some industry insiders and told them I thought Eli would get dirty if needed and they scoffed at the idea.  They assumed Kawasaki didn’t want the title in that way.  I disagreed and during an event with Andrew Short I asked him his thoughts.  Andrew replied, “I wouldn't want to hurt him, but yea you have to take a shot.”  Eli not only took a shot, he took three!  He slowed the race pace and if not for Jason Anderson acting as Dungey's wingman Eli’s plan might have worked.  When the pace slowed, Chad Reed sensed a chance to win.  Reed does not care about other’s agendas or any championship in which he can't win and saw an opportunity to grab a win.  Luckily for Dungey his wingman straight t-boned Reed ending his shot at being the oldest rider to ever win a Monster Energy Supercross.  Eli made one last Hail Mary attempt by letting Dungey pass in order to try and take him out.  In the process this allowed Anderson to squeak past and steal the race win.  Dungey realized he had a big gap back to 5th place and stopped taking Eli’s bait.  Dungey became the 2017 Monster Energy Supercross Champion in what was likely his last Supercross race, even though he declined to announce as he had previously promised.

      The Dave Coombs Sr. Memorial East/West Shootout may have been the best race I have ever seen and Supercross winner David Vuillimin agreed.  Here is Vuillimin’s tweet after the race: “I've just witnessed the best SX race in history... #CongratsZacho.”   Typically the press box is reserved, with cheering and yelling at a minimum.  When Zach caught Joey Savatgy and made the pass the press box erupted, not because they were fans of Osborne but because we all realized we had just seen a race that will be talked about for years to come.  Zach's performance was one that parents will reference when teaching their kids discipline and the importance of never giving up.  As bad as Savatgy has to feel, he was part of a historic race that will remembered for a long time.  As exciting as the race was it was equally disappointing for both Savatgy and Jordan Smith who both were in positions to win the Championship.  Savatgy appears to have something going on with him mentally.  He reminds me of Chuck Knoblauch, the second baseman for the Yankees who forgot how to throw to first base: (https://honesthypnosis.com/2013/03/what-really-happened-to-chuck-knoblauch/).  Hopefully Savatgy can get this corrected.  I was also glad to hear Smith was alright after his frightening crash heading into the stadium.  He smashed into the side of the track going about 70mph and that easily could have been life altering.

      The sport of Supercross is the most exciting form of Motorsports!  I will argue this with anyone who is up for a debate.  Supercross is changing the format for next year, at least there are serious discussions about making changes.  The changes I want to see have to do with the rule book and how rules are enforced, but I have a different article for that, here is a link to Part 1: https://www.thumpertalk.com/articles/john-gallagher-bottom-line-it-ends-with-me-r671/
       










    • By MarioThePlumber
      Dungey comes back next year. What a great season! 
      Do you guys think he'll show up at Hangtown?