Supercross Preview: East meets West in 250 showdown

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“East is East, and West is West, and never the twain shall meet,” wrote Rudyard Kipling in 1889. Some 130 years later, the AMA Supercross is out to prove him wrong in the 250 class.

Kipling’s tale of an epic showdown between two strong men standing face to face “tho’ they come (from) the ends of the earth” will play out in Atlanta as the best of the East, Austin Forkner takes on Adam Cianciarulo and the rest of the Western contingent.

Last week, Forkner added another weekend to his perfect start and enters with three wins. In five starts in the West division, Cianciarulo also has three victories and another pair of top-fives to his credit. The two bring their respective points’ lead into the battle that only one can win. And if not Forkner or Cianciarulo, Shane McElrath (West), Jordon Smith, Justin Cooper and Chase Sexton (East) also bring perfect records of top-five finishes to the weekend.

This will be the first of two matchups between the East and West divisions in the 250 class. The other will be in the season finale in Las Vegas.

In the 450 class, Cooper Webb will try to protect a lead that stands at six points over Ken Roczen. Last week Webb finished second  to Eli Tomac, but managed to gain a little ground over Roczen in fourth.

Justin Barcia will miss his first round of the season after crashing on his test track in Florida. The winner of the opening round in Anaheim, he has finished in the top 10 in all but one race since.

Schedule:

Qualifying: 1 p.m. on NBC Sports, Gold
Race: Live, 7 p.m. on NBC Sports, Gold and NBCSN

Last Week:

Eli Tomac got back on track with his second win of the year over Cooper Webb and Chad Reed in the 450 class.
Austin Forkner remained perfect with a win over Jordon Smith and Chase Sexton in the 250 class.

Last Year:

This was a Triple Crown event.
Jason Anderson (2-1-4) beat Marvin Musquin (4-5-1) and Eli Tomac (5-3-2) in the 450 class.
In 250s, Austin Forkner (4-2-3) won over Zach Osborne (1-3-5) and Jordon Smith (3-4-6) in the 250 class.

Winners

450s:
[4] Cooper Webb (Anaheim II, Oakland, Minneapolis, and Arlington)
[2] Eli Tomac (San Diego and Detroit)
[1] Justin Barcia (Anaheim I)
[1] Blake Baggett (Glendale)

250 West:
[3] Adam Cianciarulo (Glendale, Oakland and San Diego)
[1] Colt Nichols (Anaheim I)
[1] Shane McElrath (Anaheim II)

250 East:
[3] Austin Forkner (Minneapolis, Arlington and Detroit)

Top-5s

450s:
Ken Roczen (8)
Marvin Musquin (6)
Eli Tomac (6)
Cooper Webb (6)
Blake Baggett (4)
Dean Wilson (2)
Joey Savatgy (2)
Chad Reed (2)
Justin Barcia (1)
Jason Anderson (1)
Justin Bogle (1)
Justin Brayton (1)

250 West:
Shane McElrath (5)
Adam Cianciarulo (5)
Colt Nichols (4)
RJ Hampshire (3)
Dylan Ferrandis (3)
James Decotis (2)
Jacob Hayes (1)
Garrett Marchbanks (1)
Jess Pettis (1)

250 East:
Austin Forkner (3)
Jordon Smith (3)
Justin Cooper (3)
Chase Sexton (3)
Martin Davalos (2)
Alex Martin (1)

Points Leaders

450s:
Cooper Webb (173)
Ken Roczen (167)
Marvin Musquin (161)
Eli Tomac (160)
Dean Wilson (122)

250 West:
Adam Cianciarulo (114)
Shane McElrath (106)
Colt Nichols (104)
Dylan Ferrandis (102)
RJ Hampshire (75)

250 East:
Austin Forkner (78)
Jordon Smith (65)
Justin Cooper (63)
Chase Sexton (60)
Alex Martin (51)

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WATCH: Red Bull F1 team completes pit stop in zero gravity

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The Red Bull Racing pit crew may have already made headlines last weekend when it completed the fastest pit stop in Formula One history, changing Max Verstappen’s tires in 1.82 seconds, but the team’s most recent stunt took their skills to new heights – quite literally.

With the help of the Russian Space agency Roscomos, a group of the team’s mechanics completed the world’s first zero-gravity pit stop, on-board a IIyushin II-76K cosmonaut training plane.

Using a 2005 BR1, the team filmed the viral video over the course of a week, enduring seven flights and about 80 parabolas – periods in which the plane climbs 45 degrees before falling again at a ballistic arch of 45 degrees, creating a period of weightlessness for approximately 22 seconds.

With such a short time frame between weightlessness periods, the car and equipment had to be both quickly and safely secured before gravity once again took effect. Each filming lasted roughly 15 seconds, and the stunt was the most physically and technically demanding activity the live demo team had ever undertaken.

“It pushed us harder than I thought it would,” said Red Bull Support Team Mechanic Joe Robinson. “You realize how much you rely on gravity when you don’t have any!

“It challenges you to think and operate in a different way – and that was brilliant. It was a once in a lifetime opportunity and honestly, I could have stayed and done it all month. It was amazing. I think it’s the coolest, most fun thing the Live Demo team has ever done with a show car.”

Though Red Bull was the first team to perform a pit stop in zero gravity, surprisingly Red Bull was not the first team to put a car through zero gravity. In 1999, McLaren driver David Coulthard and his car experienced zero gravity as part of a promotion for then-sponsor West Cigarettes.

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