Preview: Martin, Musquin battle for Pro Motocross championship in series finale (Today, Live Extra)

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The 2015 Lucas Oil Pro Motocross Championship concludes today with the Bud Light Ironman National, the final round of the season, and there’s a lot on the line.

NBC Sports Live Extra will have coverage all day starting at 10:30 a.m. ET. Coverage will include the inaugural Legends Race, which features past champions such as Ricky Carmichael, and the crowning of a 250 Class champion. Click here to access the Live Extra steam.

Ironman National: Live Extra Schedule
10:30 a.m. ET – Practice
11:30 a.m. ET – Pre-Race Show
12:30 p.m. ET – Legends Race
1:00 p.m. ET – 450 Moto 1
2:00 p.m. ET – 250 Moto 1
3:00 p.m. ET – 450 Moto 2
4:00 p.m. ET – 250 Moto 2

The biggest story of the day revolves around the championship battle in the 250 Class. Eleven rounds have come and gone, and with one final race left before the season ends, there is still no clear-cut favorite between Yamalube/Star Racing/Yamaha’s Jeremy Martin and Red Bull KTM’s Marvin Musquin.

All summer long, the two riders have traded wins, and the points lead – which has never grown larger than 19 points – has exchanged hands a few times. Now the two title contenders enter the last round separated by just two points, making this one of the most highly-anticipated Nationals in quite some time.

As always, today’s race will feature two motos. Here’s a look at all the different outcomes in play for both riders:

  • If either Martin or Musquin sweeps both motos, they will win the championship.
  • If Martin gets 1-2 or 2-1 moto finishes, he will win the championship.
  • If Martin finishes ahead of Musquin, earns the same number of points as Musquin or loses no more than 1 point to Musquin, Martin will win the championship.
  • If Musquin picks up 3 or more points on Martin, Musquin will win the championship.
  • If Musquin picks up exactly 2 points on Martin, it will come down to a tiebreaker. The first tiebreaker is number of moto wins, a category that Musquin currently leads 10-9.

The title fight appears destined to come down to the final moto of the season, but despite the intense pressure they’ll be faced with today, both riders will try to block out all the distractions once the gate drops.

“Come Saturday, I focus on what I can control,” Martin said. “That’s how I’m gonna ride and that’s how I’m gonna approach the situation. I knew that it would come down to the wire. I was 19 points down after Glen Helen, Round 2, and I knew it was gonna come down to the last round, to the last moto. So I’m mentally prepared for it.”

Musquin echoed that sentiment. “The goal is to win both motos and not think about anything else or anybody on the track,” he said. “I just want to do my job and do the best I can. Honestly it’s gonna be a lot of pressure – that’s for sure – but I want to focus on myself and not think about the other guys. That’s the best I can do.”

This title fight has brought the topic of “team tactics” to the forefront of discussion. Last weekend at Utah, Cooper Webb – a teammate of Martin’s under the Star Yamaha rig – was leading Moto 2 with Martin in second and Musquin in third. When Martin caught up to Webb, Webb didn’t put up a fight, instead allowing Martin to move around him into the lead. The pass moved Martin back into the points lead. Had Webb kept himself in front of Martin, Musquin would be holding the championship lead instead right now.

While Martin could potentially receive help again from Webb this week, Musquin does not have that luxury. If Musquin wants to win this title, he’ll have to do it on his own.

“At the end of the day, what you want is to win by yourself,” Musquin said. “It’s an individual sport. I don’t have teammates, and if I win, I’ll be proud of myself. Winning on your own is the best.”

A championship would be significant for both riders for different reasons. For Musquin, this is his final season in the 250 Class and therefore his last opportunity to win a title before moving up to a 450 next year.

As for Martin, he is looking to defend last year’s championship and hold on to the #1 plate for another year. “It’d be nice to be able to defend the title in the first try,” he said. “Not a lot of people are able to defend it their first try. The first one’s sweet, but the second one is gonna be even sweeter.”

 

IndyCar’s Vasser-Sullivan expand into IMSA for 2019

James Sullivan and Jimmy Vasser. Photo IndyCar
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Not even one year after returning to the IndyCar ranks, Vasser-Sullivan Racing is taking AIM at the IMSA world, you might say.

While team co-owners Jimmy Vasser and James “Sulli” Sullivan will continue to partner with Dale Coyne Racing on the IndyCar side, they expanded their holdings Tuesday, announcing a partnership with AIM Autosport to campaign a new two-car Lexus-backed RC F GT3 effort in IMSA’s GT Daytona class.

The new team – named AIM Vasser-Sullivan – will replace 3GT Racing, which was part of Lexus’ sports car program launch in 2016. It will announce its two drivers in the coming weeks, the team said.

“Sulli and I are excited and looking forward to entering a new chapter in our racing careers,” Vasser said in a media release. “I have driven sports cars before, but my career was pretty much limited to the 24 Hours of Daytona, including a ‘class’ win in 1992 and second overall in 2008.

“The AIM Vasser Sullivan team, with the support of Lexus and our sponsors, has the tools to get the job done and we are looking forward to this new challenge.”

Lexus has made significant progress in its first two seasons in IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship competition, having earned a combined two race wins, five poles and finished third in the 2018 GTD Manufacturer point standings.

Vasser and Sullivan were part of the ownership group of KVSH Racing in IndyCar from 2011 through 2016 before the organization folded.

They also owned Tony Kanaan’s 2013 Indianapolis 500-winning car.

After sitting out the 2017 season, Vasser, a former CART champion, and Sullivan rejoined forces this past February, just before the start of the 2018 IndyCar season, partnering with Coyne to form a satellite team led by driver Sebastien Bourdais, who previously drove for KVSH.

Bourdais kicked off the new team’s effort with a win in the season-opening Grand Prix of St. Petersburg. He finished seventh in the overall season standings.

AIM Vasser Sullivan will have two home bases for its IMSA program: AIM’s current facility in Woodbridge, Ontario, Canada, as well as a new U.S. shop in Charlotte, North Carolina.

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