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.

Racing Safety United aims to reduce the risk of injury to drivers

Racing Safety United
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Racing is an inherently dangerous sport.

The Racing Safety United (RSU) alliance aims to reduce some of that risk with the formation of a multi-discipline advocacy group that includes all major stakeholders of the sport: sanctioning bodies, drivers, track owners and equipment manufacturers – just to name a few of the many businesses that impact a driver’s welfare once they strap into the seat of a racecar.

Originally spearheaded by sports car driver RJ Valentine, the alliance initially intends to focus on track safety. Because expenses can be razor thin for short tracks, a financial aid program is in the works to help with safety upgrades.

“As a racer, I’ve witnessed a lot of horrible crashes and it always astounds me that, for the most part, the motorsports community continues to accept it, including drivers,” Valentine said in a press release. “Because safety improvement adoption is slow, I realized we need support from constituents in all sectors of motorsports to make any real changes happen.

“Initially, track safety is one of RSU’s top priorities, mainly because it receives the least amount of attention. However, we intend to address all safety areas from helmets to driver education.”

RSU’s first official meeting is scheduled on December 6th during the PRI Show to discuss and prioritize safety initiatives.

The RSU is currently made up of 30 members including former NASCAR driver Jerry Nadeau, NHRA team owner Don Schumacher, Flying Lizard owner Darren Law, Randy Lajoie – owner of The Joie of Seating, sportscar driver Andrew Pilgrim and journalist Dick Berggren.

More information can be found on the RSU site.