AMA Motocross Miller Preview 2013

August 14, 2013
Byron Wilson
Byron Wilson
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Byron's sure to be hunched over a laptop after the checkers are flown, caught in his own little version of heaven. Whether on dirt, street or a combination of both, MotoUSA's newest addition knows the only thing better than actually riding is telling the story of how things went down.

The penultimate round of the 2013 Lucas Oil Pro Motocross Championship is set for August 17, 2013 at Miller Motorsports Park. The brand new track was constructed at the northeast corner of Miller’s East Road Course and marks the first time an outdoor National has been hosted in Utah since 1973. Some features of the new 1.1-mile track, designed by Marc Peters, are an uphill start, plenty of off camber turns and two giant triple step-up jumps. Monster Energy Kawasaki’s Ryan Villopoto stands poised to clinch the 2013 title at the new track, entering the round 44 points ahead of Red Bull KTM’s Ryan Dungey in second.

Villopoto put forth one of his strongest all-around performances to-date during the previous round at Unadilla, scoring two consecutive Holeshots and sweeping both motos. Prior to Moto 1 in New York, RV had only been fastest off the start once the entire season. He cited changes to his fork and shock as contributing to the improved starts, seemingly fixing the one area of his game that suffered during the year and making him an even more formidable foe.

Ryan Dungey scored his second overall victory of the 2013 season at Budds Creek with his 2-1 finish.
Ryan Dungey will need a strong performance in Utah and some luck to remain in the hunt for the 2013 title.

Dungey is well settled in second-place, and will likely stay there until the end-of-year trophies are handed out unless Villopoto takes a very low scoring round at Miller. Possible scenario one: Dungey sweeps both motos, takes 50 points, RV goes 2-2 and gets 44. Dungey enters the finale at Lake Elsinore with a 38 point deficit and still has to hope for disaster in the Kawasaki camp. Possible scenario two: RV sweeps both motos at Miller, Dungey goes 2-2 and then heads to Lake Elsinore with 50 points to make up. Even if RV sat the round out and Dungey won both in California, Villopoto has the lion’s share of moto wins in the class for the year and would keep the advantage. Maybe they’ll each earn a win and a second-place at Miller, and the 44 point deficit will stand to the last round, again leading KTM to wish catastrophe on the Monster Energy Kawasaki rider.

What seems most likely is that Villopoto will take the 1-1 at Miller and seal the deal, while Dungey will post a mixed result. The wildcard element to the mix is whether the injury which Villopoto plans to have surgically addressed following the end of the motocross season will play any role. He appeared stronger than ever at Unadilla and will likely grin and bear whatever pain he’s in to finish out the season on top.

Team Muscle Milk Honda’s Justin Barcia is a near lock for third-place overall. Yoshimura Suzuki’s James Stewart, in fourth, could lose position if the neck injury that was aggravated during his Moto 2 crash at Unadilla affects his game through the remaining rounds. Barcia’s teammate, Trey Canard, is 26 points behind Bubba in fifth and could easily make that up should JS7 face more zero scoring motos. Canard had a monumentally bad round at Unadilla, pulling out of Moto 1 with a mechanical issue and then getting caught in a pile up off the start in Moto 2 that left him outside points scoring range. The Oklahoma native will be looking to push for a strong finish to the season.

GEICO Honda teammates Eli Tomac  17  and Wil Hahn  19  fighting for position at Budds Creek.
GEICO Honda’s Eli Tomac (17) looks poised to take the 2013 250 Nationals title. His teammate, Wil Hahn (19) secured the 250 Holeshot Championship and the $15,000 prize during the previous round at Unadilla.

In the 250 ranks, GEICO Honda’s Eli Tomac is on an end-of-season rampage that doesn’t seem to be diminishing in strength anytime soon. He’s won the past six motos in a row, each by a healthy margin, and has done so after slow starts which force him to battle up the ranks during the opening laps. In Moto 2 at Unadilla, Red Bull KTM’s Ken Roczen had opened an eight second gap on the field out front, but once Tomac made his way to second-place, he cut that gap to nothing within a handful of minutes.

Try as he might, Roczen doesn’t appear to have the steam left to contend with Tomac, who dropped lap times two to three seconds faster, consistently, at Unadilla. The German rider still has a shot at the title, however, with 100 points still on the table before the end of the season.

Tomac and Roczen are the only foreseeable contenders for the championship, as Roczen’s teammate, Marvin Musquin, sits 96 points adrift of the leader in third. Defending 250 Nationals champion Blake Baggett of Monster Pro Circuit Kawasaki will likely end fourth, as long as he can take consistent finishes ahead of Tomac’s teammate, Zach Osborne, who is 33 points back in fifth.

The 250 Holeshot Championship was wrapped by GEICO Honda’s Wil Hahn at Unadilla, but the $25,000 prize is still up for grabs in the 450 class. Currently Stewart leads the charge with nine points. Barcia is second with eight points and Villopoto jumped up to third thanks to his sweep at Unadilla, now tied with JGRMX’s Josh Grant at five points.

The Built Ford Tough Utah National will be broadcast on NBC Sports Network and starting at 3 p.m. ET (first motos) followed by broadcasts of the second motos on Fox Sports 2 and at 5 p.m. ET.

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