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Roczen, Dungey will settle championship fight at Motocross season finale today

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The battle for the 450 Class title has come down to the final Lucas Oil Pro Motocross Championship race of the season.

All season long, Red Bull KTM teammates Ken Roczen and Ryan Dungey have both kept themselves in contention thanks to their consistent results. Dungey had closed the gap down to a mere seven points until he had his worst moto of the season one week ago at Indiana. The deficit now stands at 20 points, a margin that will be difficult – but not impossible – for Dungey to overcome at today’s Utah National.

“It’s a big monkey off the back seeing the points lead really go up, and it just takes a little bit of pressure off having a 20-point lead now,” Roczen said after the last race. “But I can’t back down. I need to have another good week.”

“It’s looking a little slim,” Dungey admitted, “but you can’t ever give up. By no means do I wish anything bad [on Roczen], I’m just gonna go out there and give it two hard motos, and hopefully that’s a 1-1, and if the rest works itself out, great. If we get a win and it doesn’t, then it wasn’t meant to be.”

With a maximum of 25 points on the line in each of the two remaining motos, Dungey will likely need a DNF from Roczen in one of those motos in order for the title to work out in his favor. It’s a tall order though, considering that Roczen hasn’t finished worse than fourth in a moto this season.

Canard on a hot streak
Dungey and Roczen may own the headlines this week, but the rise of Trey Canard has been one of the biggest developments in the 450 Class in recent weeks.

Canard has dealt with several severe injuries over the course of his career that kept him repeatedly sidelined, but he has come back stronger than ever this year. Although Canard has been a part of the lead pack all season long, moto wins kept eluding him until he finally broke through for a victory two weeks ago at Unadilla in the second moto, breaking a winless drought that dated back several years to his time in the 250 Class. With another second moto win last week in Indiana, he has now won two of the last three motos raced.

“It was huge,” Canard said of the wins. “It’s been a couple years, so even to win a moto was really special. You start to lose a lot of confidence and faith that it’ll happen. So I was grateful.”

Canard credits the Honda Muscle Milk team with making huge strides in improving the bike over the course of the season and says that has been the biggest difference that has led to his recent success.

“I feel like I was pretty on point right off the bat [when returning from injury this year],” he said. “I think the bike has gotten a lot better. I’ve really enjoyed riding it, and that will obviously lead to more confidence in riding it.”

Now that he has the first 450 Class moto wins of his career under his belt, Canard will be in search of his first overall win in the class today at Miller Motorsports Park.

Watch live coverage of every moto from the Utah National today. First motos in both classes stream live on and NBC Sports Live Extra at 3 p.m. ET, with second motos in both classes getting underway at 5 p.m. ET. Click here to access the Live Extra stream.

NBCSN will also provide same-day television coverage of second motos. The second 450 Class moto can be seen at 6:30 p.m. ET, and the second 250 Class moto will air at 1 a.m. ET.

IndyCar 2015 Driver Review: Gabby Chaves

Gabby Chaves
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MotorSportsTalk continues its run through the driver-by-driver field in the Verizon IndyCar Series. In 15th and the rookie-of-the-year for 2015, was Gabby Chaves.

Gabby Chaves, No. 98 Bryan Herta Autosport Honda

  • 2014: Indy Lights champion
  • 2015: 15th Place, Best Finish 9th, Best Start 12th, 0 Top-5, 2 Top-10, 31 Laps Led, 19.3 Avg. Start, 14.4 Avg. Finish

Some drivers finish better than their performances show. Some drivers have performances better than their results show. The latter statement applied to Gabby Chaves in his rookie year, in what was an impressive first season after making the step up from Indy Lights, which deservedly earned him rookie-of-the-year honors.

The best comparison I’d make for Gabby is of Josef Newgarden in 2012 with Sarah Fisher Hartman Racing, a first-year driver on a single-car, newish team to the series.

Chaves rarely dazzled in qualifying but that wasn’t his fault; he and engineer John Dick worked well together and Chaves recounted multiple times this year that a tweak here or tweak there, the wrong way, on the aero kit would send them down the wrong setup path.

Results in races didn’t measure up either but again that was through almost no fault of his own. The only time Chaves looked truly like a rookie was at St. Pete, when he had several collisions. Otherwise he was ahead of eventual winner James Hinchcliffe at NOLA before getting punted off, reliable through the month of May in Indianapolis, finally able to break through for a ninth place in Detroit race two, overachieving in Texas, 11th at Milwaukee after some great wheel-to-wheel racing with series winners and champions, and then phenomenal at Pocono as he was on course for a first career win or podium before late-race engine issues – his first DNF of the season.

For both Chaves and Herta, you’d love to see them together for another season, and the results and confidence for both parties will grow as a result. Those who’ve seen Newgarden’s rise over four years with Fisher and now CFH will note the long-term stability, and that’s what Chaves could do if he gets the time.

He planted the seed of being a great IndyCar driver, and he became pretty versatile during the year too with additional appearances in the DeltaWing prototype, a short-track midget and one of Herta’s Red Bull Global Rallycross cars. To boot, he’s a smart, great kid who is mature beyond his years, and someone you should be buying stock in now. Anyone who saw Chaves in the Mazda Road to Indy should not have been surprised by his rookie season in the big cars.

Off The Grid: Monza preview (premieres Saturday 10/10 on NBCSN)

F1 Grand Prix of Italy
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Having already taken you behind the scenes in Barcelona, Budapest, Singapore, Melbourne and Silverstone, Will Buxton and Jason Swales now head to one of Formula 1’s most iconic venues for the latest episode of Off The Grid.

Monza has appeared in all but one F1 season since the formation of the world championship in 1950, and is a firm favorite among drivers, teams and fans alike.

However, there is far more to the Italian Grand Prix than meets the eye, as we find out in Saturday’s premiere of Off The Grid: Monza at 9:30am ET (follows Russian GP qualifying).

Having honed his talents in go-karts as a kid, Red Bull driver Daniel Ricciardo is now trying to pass on his knowledge to the next generation of racers. But can he teach Will or Jason a thing or two?

We also catch up with Force India’s Nico Hulkenberg and get a feel for life on the road as he takes us for a tour of his lavish bus in which he travels in for the European F1 races.

Have you ever wondered just how the suits F1 drivers wear are made? We go behind the scenes at Alpine Stars’ factory in Italy and find out.

Off The Grid: Monza premieres on Saturday at 9:30am ET on NBCSN following Russian GP qualifying.