What to watch for: Pro Motocross at Spring Creek (1 p.m. ET, Live Extra)

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Watch live coverage of Round 8 of the Lucas Oil Pro Motocross Championship from Spring Creek today on NBC Sports Live Extra. The pre-race show will start at 1 p.m. ET, followed by first motos in both classes at 2 p.m. ET and then second motos at 4 p.m. ET. (Click here to access the live stream.) NBCSN will also have television coverage of second motos at 11 p.m. ET.

Here are the key stories to watch heading into today’s motos.

250 CLASS: HOMECOMING FOR THE MARTIN BROTHERS

When Spring Creek Motocross Park is described as the “home track” of brothers Jeremy and Alex Martin, that statement could not be any more true. Their parents, John and Greta Martin, have owned the facility – which is located in Millville, Minnesota – since 1987, and the track is situated right in the backyard of the house that the Martin brothers grew up in.

Today, Spring Creek will host the eighth round of the Lucas Oil Pro Motocross Championship, and while the Martin brothers are a hot topic every year when the series races here, this time around looks to be the most intriguing visit to the track yet for Jeremy and Alex.

The defending champion of the 250 Class, Yamalube/Star Racing/Yamaha’s Jeremy Martin has been in a back-and-forth battle all season long with Red Bull KTM’s Marvin Musquin. Thanks to a 1-1 sweep two weeks ago at RedBud, Jeremy regained the championship lead and carries a seven-point advantage into Spring Creek.

As for Alex, the CycleTrader.com/Rock River/Yamaha rider has made a huge jump this year. A borderline top-ten rider in past years, he currently sits fifth in points and has repeatedly found himself in a position to challenge for podium finishes. Just a few weeks ago at Budds Creek, he broke through for the first moto win of his career.

Jeremy won at Spring Creek last year for the first time in his career, and it comes as no surprise that Alex has historically raced well there too. Thanks to Alex’s breakout year, the two brothers have found themselves battling head-to-head on the track multiple times this season. Might it happen again today?

“Alex and I train together, and we’re still gonna do it leading up to Millville,” Jeremy said after RedBud, before jokingly taking a shot at his older brother. “It’s been good racing. He’s gonna try to beat me [at Millville], but I’m gonna show him who’s boss.”

250 CLASS: WEBB READY TO STRIKE BACK?

Aside from Musquin, the biggest threat to a second straight Millville win may not come from Jeremy Martin’s brother – it may be his teammate, Cooper Webb.

In his second race back from injury, Webb looked strong at RedBud and very well could have swept both motos. He was en route to a win in the first moto until Martin kicked things up a notch late in the race and stole the win with a last-lap pass. Webb still found himself in position to win the overall with a victory in Moto 2, but he crashed while leading and allowed Martin to pass him once again.

Martin and Musquin may be dominating the standings, but prior to his injury at the opening round, Webb was expected to be right in the mix with those two. With two races under his belt and coming out of an off-week, Webb should be even more prepared and may have a chance to spoil his teammate’s homecoming. He finished third overall at Millville last year but won the second moto.

450 CLASS: DUNGEY WANTS BACK ATOP PODIUM

The Martin brothers aren’t the only Minnesota natives lining up as favorites. In the 450 Class, Belle Plaine’s Ryan Dungey carries a 44-point lead into this round.

While he has a solid track record at Spring Creek – capturing a victory in five straight seasons from 2008-2012 – Dungey has been winless in his last two appearances there.

The Red Bull KTM rider is also looking to snap a recent drought this season. Although he is tied for the lead with two overall wins in the 450 Class, Dungey has not won an overall since Round 4 at High Point, instead watching Ken Roczen and Justin Barcia emerge with first-place trophies. Roczen is the defending champion of the class, and Barcia is riding a sky-high wave of confidence after two straight wins, so both will be formidable foes for Dungey today.

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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