WATCH LIVE: Unadilla National; Can Ryan Dungey make it two wins in a row?

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The Lucas Oil Pro Motocross Championship hits its final three-week stretch today at the Red Bull Unadilla National, and all four motos will be streaming live on NBC Sports Live Extra starting at 1:00 PM E.T. First motos in both classes will kick things off, followed by second motos at 3:00 PM E.T.

Second motos in both classes can also be viewed live on television through NBC and NBCSN. NBC will air the second 450 Class moto live at 3:00 PM E.T., with coverage shifting over to NBCSN at 4:00 PM E.T. for the second 250 Class moto.

The biggest story entering today’s race is the resumption of the 450 Class championship battle between Ken Roczen and Ryan Dungey. Dungey has trimmed Roczen’s lead down to 14 points and has the momentum right now in the series. It will be quite a battle between the two Red Bull KTM teammates over the final three rounds.

When it comes to winning races though, the 450 Class isn’t a two-horse race by any means. Eli Tomac has been strong ever since returning from a broken collarbone midway through the season and has looked like an even better rider than points leader Roczen in recent weeks. Trey Canard, who set the fastest lap in practice this morning, is also in search of his first moto win of the season.

In the 250 Class, Jeremy Martin holds a comfortable 43-point lead in the championship race, and while he would surely love to return to the top of the podium today, he’s in a position where he can afford to play it safe.

Barring a huge mistake, Martin has built up a deficit that will be challenging for fellow title contenders Cooper Webb and Blake Baggett to overcome. Anything’s possible though – a mechanical problem with the bike or a hard crash in one of the motos could result in a DNF for Martin, which would quickly let his challengers back into the hunt.

Coyne transitioning from underdog to Indy 500 threat

Photo: IndyCar
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For most of the team’s existence, Dale Coyne Racing has been the Chicago Cubs of American Open Wheel Racing – a team whose history was more defined by failures, at times comically so, than success.

The last decade, however, has seen the tide completely change. In 2007, they scored three podium finishes with Bruno Junqueira. In 2009, they won at Watkins Glen with the late Justin Wilson.

The combination won again at Texas Motor Speedway in 2012, and finished sixth in the 2013 Verizon IndyCar Series championship. That same year, Mike Conway took a shock win for them in Race 1 at the Chevrolet Dual in Detroit.

Carlos Huertas scored an upset win for them in Race 1 at the Houston double-header in 2014, and while 2015 and 2016 yielded no wins, Tristan Vautier and Conor Daly gave them several strong runs – Vautier’s best finish was fourth in Race 2 at Detroit, while Daly finished second in Race 1 at Detroit, finished fourth at Watkins Glen, and scored a trio of sixth-place finishes at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway Road Course, Race 2 at Detroit, and the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course.

And 2017 was set to possibly be the best year the team has ever had. Sebastien Bourdais gave the team a popular win in the season-opening Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg, and then rookie Ed Jones scored back-to-back top tens – 10th and sixth – at St. Pete and the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach to start his career.

But, things started unraveling at the Indianapolis 500. Bourdais appeared set to be in the Fast Nine Pole Shootout during his first qualifying run – both of his first two laps were above 231 mph –  before his horrifying crash in Turn 2.

While Jones qualified an impressive 11th and finished an even more impressive third, results for the rest of the season became hard to come by – Jones only scored two more Top 10s, with a best result of seventh at Road America.

But, retooled for 2018, the Coyne team is a legitimate threat at the 102nd Running of the Indianapolis 500.

Bourdais, whose No. 18 Honda features new sponsorship from SealMaster and now ownership partners in Jimmy Vasser and James “Sulli” Sullivan, has a win already, again at St. Pete, and sits third in the championship.

And Bourdais may also be Honda’s best hope, given that he was the fastest Honda in qualifying – he’ll start fifth behind Ed Carpenter, Simon Pagenaud, Will Power, and Josef Newgarden.

“I think it speaks volumes about their work, their passion and their dedication to this program, Dale (Coyne), Jimmy (Vasser) and Sulli (James Sullivan) and everybody from top to bottom. I can’t thank them enough for the opportunity, for the support,” Bourdais said of the team’s effort.

Rookie Zachary Claman De Melo has been progressing nicely, and his Month of May has been very solid – he finished 12th at the INDYCAR Grand Prix on the IMS Road Course and qualified a strong 13th for the “500.”

“It’s been surreal to be here as rookie. I’m a bit at a loss for words,” Claman De Melo revealed after qualifying. “The fans, driving around this place, being with the team, everything is amazing. I have a great engineer, a great group of experienced mechanics at Dale Coyne Racing.”

While Conor Daly and Pippa Mann struggled in one-off entries, with Mann getting bumped out of the field in Saturday qualifying, Daly’s entry essentially puts three Coyne cars in the race – Daly’s No. 17 United States Air Force Honda is a Dale Coyne car that has been leased to Thom Burns Racing.

Rest assured, the days of Coyne being an “also ran” are long gone, and a Coyne car ending up in Victory Lane at the biggest race of the year would complete the Chicago Cubs analogy – the Cubs won a World Series title in 2016, and an Indy 500 triumph would be the crowning achievement in Coyne’s career.

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