What to watch for: Pro Motocross at Budds Creek (noon ET, Live Extra)

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After a week off, the Lucas Oil Pro Motocross Championship resumes at Budds Creek, officially marking the midway point of the season.

Coverage starts at noon E.T. on NBC Sports Live Extra with the pre-race show, followed by first motos in both classes at 1 p.m. ET. Second motos will stream live online starting at 3 p.m. ET and will also air on NBCSN tonight at 9 p.m. ET. Click here to access the Live Extra stream.

The story of the day at Budds Creek is the weather. Rain fell this morning, which resulted in practice being condensed into one 20-minute session for each class. Heavy thunderstorms are in the forecast for later today, which would make for a muddy, challenging track.

Weather aside, the biggest thing to watch for in the 450 Class is the continued battle between Ken Roczen and Ryan Dungey. Roczen is clearly ready to challenge for wins week in and week out but is still facing a 37-point deficit in the standings.

Behind Roczen and Dungey though, an intriguing battle has developed for podium positioning. Jason Anderson, Justin Barcia and Blake Baggett have begun to distance themselves from the rest of the field as the most consistent podium threats. The three of them are separated by just five points entering today’s race. Anderson and Baggett are rookies in the 450 Class, and Barcia is adjusting to a new bike this year, so all three riders could continue to improve as the season goes on.

Another rider looking to add his name to that list is Christophe Pourcel. The Frenchman seemed to turn a corner two weeks ago at High Point, setting the fastest lap in practice, then turning two good starts into a pair of top-five moto finishes. Once again, he was the fastest qualifier this morning at Budds Creek and could be riding upfront for a second straight round.

The 250 Class has been dominated by Marvin Musquin and Jeremy Martin so far this year – the two have combined to lead 143 of 164 laps and are the only riders to win a moto this year – but a familiar foe will be back in the fold this week, as Cooper Webb makes his return to Lucas Oil Pro Motocross. Webb has been out since reaggravating an ankle injury in the second moto at Hangtown but feels that he’s ready to return.

Webb is part of a group of contenders in the 250 Class looking to break through and end the dominance of Martin and Marvin. Another such rider, Adam Cianciarulo, may end up being the best bet and was the fastest qualifier in practice today, turning a 2:18.8 lap time.

Jessy Nelson has been in the mix as well this season, and although he only qualified tenth, he excelled on a muddy track last year when he won the first moto at Indiana. The track hasn’t degenerated to that level at this point, but with storms in the forecast for later, that remains something to keep in mind.

Fernando Alonso will decide this summer whether to pursue F1 again

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Fernando Alonso said he will determine by this summer if he would consider a return to Formula One next season.

After announcing Tuesday that he will return to Indianapolis Motor Speedway in May with Arrow McLaren Racing SP, Alonso said “right now the Indy 500 will take all of my concentration” but left the door open for F1 in 2021.

“In my case, probably during the summer period, I’ll make a decision on 2021 if Formula One is still appealing to me,” Alonso told IndyCar on NBC announcer Leigh Diffey in an interview (watch the video above). “The 2021 rules (in F1) are definitely a step forward, and hopefully things can be more mixed and not only three teams capable of winning races. So all this factors into play. I may consider that possibility.”

Alonso won consecutive Formula One championships in 2005-06 with Renault. He has 32 victories in an F1 career that started in 2001 and also includes stints at Ferrari and McLaren.

His last victory on the circuit was May 12, 2013 in Barcelona. He is winless in his most recent 110 starts, including the past 77 races with McLaren in 2015-18.

The Guardian recently reported that McLaren CEO Zak Brown said Alonso wouldn’t be returning to F1 with the team.

Alonso also told Diffey that returning to F1 from a two-season absence wouldn’t necessarily be linked to McLaren’s performance.

“I think they did well last year, and hopefully they make another step forward and close to the top three because they deserve it and are a fantastic team,” he said.

Though he is optimistic about more parity, Alonso said six-time champion Lewis Hamilton should be a favorite for the 2020 title based on preseason testing in which Mercedes turned heads with a new steering system.

“It seemed Mercedes is still quite competitive,” Alonso said. “They show enormous potential on the development side and on the progress from one year to next. Formula One is impossible to predict because many things happen in season.

“At the starting point, (Mercedes) are the favorites. When you have Lewis in the car and Mercedes with the potential they have, they have to be No. 1 probably.”