Motocross goes mile high: Thunder Valley preview

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The Lucas Oil AMA Pro Motocross Championship goes mile-high this week as Round 3 is contested just outside of Denver, Colo. at Thunder Valley Motocross Park.

The Supercross debut in Denver two months ago provides a sneak peak of what viewers can expect. Eli Tomac was favored to win in his home state, and he lived up to expectations as his late-season surge put pressure on Cooper Webb.

Tomac should be able to pick up where he left off after winning this April in the Broncos Stadium at Mile High and last week on Fox Raceway at Pala, Calif. because he is the defending winner on Thunder Valley as well. If he can score back-to-back victories on this track, he will be the first repeat winner in five years. Blake Baggett won in 2017, Ken Roczen in 2016 and Ryan Dungey in 2015.

Roczen expects to challenge, however. He won the opener at Hangtown and finished third last week. He is also the most recent repeat winner with a victory in 2014. Still battling a mysterious health issue that drains his strength, Roczen will have to overcome the high altitude this week. He finished only seventh in the Denver SX race.

The track will be altered from its weekly format with the addition of sand to soften the surface. As the day progresses, the sand and native soil churn together creating new conditions and challenges with each lap.

In addition, the altitude will starve the engines of oxygen – changing the throttle response from what the riders have experienced during the past two weeks.

Baggett bent his front wheel in Moto 1 at Pala and hurt his throttle wrist, but has been cleared to race.

Rookie Joey Savatgy has recovered from a shoulder injury sustained in the Nashville SX race and a deep leg bruise from Las Vegas. He is expected to be back on his Kawasaki this week.

MORE: Third Time’s the Charm for Blake Baggett
MORE: Eli Tomac Outfoxes the Field at Pala

Schedule:

Qualifiers: 12:15 p.m. ET on NBC Sports Gold
Race: Live, 3 p.m. ET on NBC Sports Gold (Moto 1) and 5:30 p.m. ET on NBC Sports Gold (Moto 2); replay 4 p.m. ET, June 2

May 25 – 2019 Fox Raceway at Pala

450: Eli Tomac (1-1) won over Marvin Musquin (3-2) and Ken Roczen (2-3).
250: Adam Cianciarulo (3-1) won over Justin Cooper (1-4) and Dylan Ferrandis (7-3).

June 2, 2018 – Thunder Valley

450: Eli Tomac (1-1) defeated Ken Roczen (2-2) and Blake Baggett (3-3).
250: Jeremy Martin (2-1) beat Alex Martin (3-2) and Justin Cooper (1-8).

Overall Wins

450:
[1] Ken Roczen (Hangtown)
[1] Eli Tomac (Pala)

250:
[2] Adam Cianciarulo (Hangtown, Pala)

Moto Wins

450:
[3] Eli Tomac (Hangtown II, Pala I & II)
[1] Ken Roczen (Hangtown I)

250:
[1] Justin Cooper (Hangtown I, Pala I)
[1] Adam Cianciarulo (Hangtown II, Pala II)

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IndyCar teams with NASCAR on IMS road course doubleheader in 2021

IndyCar NASCAR doubleheader 2021
Jamie Squire/Getty Images
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The NTT IndyCar Series will be sharing Indianapolis Motor Speedway with the NASCAR Cup Series in a race weekend doubleheader for the second consecutive season, but both series will be on the road course in August 2021.

IMS announced Wednesday that IndyCar will hold an Aug. 14, 2021 race on its 14-turn, 2.439-mile road course. It’ll be a day before NASCAR’s premier series runs the same layout for the first time after the Brickyard 400 was contested on the 2.5-mile oval for the first time in 27 years.

This season’s rescheduling of the IndyCar GMR Grand Prix to July 4, 2019 (a day before the Brickyard 400) led to the first NASCAR-IndyCar doubleheader weekend. The Xfinity Series also raced on the IMS road course for the first time July 4 after the IndyCar race ended.

INDYCAR AT IMS THIS WEEKEND: Harvest GP schedule, entry lists

IndyCar will be holding its second race weekend this year at the IMS road course Friday and Saturday with the Harvest GP.

“Our first NASCAR-INDYCAR weekend was a big success last July, with positive feedback from
our loyal fans who watched the races on NBC and from the drivers, teams and participants
involved,” IMS president Douglas Boles said in a statement. “The Xfinity Series’ debut on the IMS road course provided exactly the kind of thrilling action from the green to checkered flags that we anticipated, so we know the teams and drivers of the Cup Series will put on a great show as they turn left and right for the first time at IMS.

“We can’t wait to welcome back fans to see NASCAR and INDYCAR together during this
exciting weekend as we add another memorable chapter in the long, storied history of the
Indianapolis Motor Speedway.”

It also will mark the first NASCAR Cup-IndyCar doubleheader with a crowd as fans weren’t permitted at IMS in July because of the novel coronvavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

Over the course of Wednesday, NASCAR is releasing its 36-race slate for next season. IndyCar has yet to release its full 2021 schedule.