RedBud Preview: Eli Tomac commands as MX heads into second half

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The Lucas Oil Pro Motocross season heads into its second half and a clear leader has only recently emerged. Eli Tomac looks to extend his advantage, while Marvin Musquin has more momentum than anyone in the field.

For the first four weeks of the season, Tomac and Ken Roczen swapped the lead and split the victories evenly between them. The past two weeks have gone to Musquin as now three riders have two wins apiece.

Tomac is finally showing the type of dominance that was expected of him at the start of the year, but he’s done so on the backs of other riders’ mistakes. Currently second in the points, Musquin gave up a lot of ground at Hangtown in the opener, then Thunder Valley and High Point in the first half of June.

After sweeping the podium in the first four weeks, Roczen has fallen precipitously in the last two rounds with a sixth overall at WW Ranch and last week’s ninth at The Wick.

Meanwhile, Tomac has held steady with a sweep of the overall podium in the first six weeks – but he has experienced trouble in individual Motos to a degree that says this championship is far from settled.

Track conditions will be one of the keys this week. Over the past several years, the surface has been reworked and many think it has become a course with sand-like tendencies. That could favor Musquin for a third consecutive week and if Tomac gets off to another slow start in Moto 1, it could allow second-place to close the gap.

Last week Zach Osborne won his first career Moto and came frustratingly close to the overall win. He will try to keep his momentum intact and could play the role of spoiler.

Dean Wilson will debut in the 2019 season this week after missing the final rounds of the Supercross season with a shoulder injury. His last start resulted in a 20th-place finish at Denver. Wilson’s last start at RedBud ended ninth in 2017.

In 250s, Joey Crown will make his debut at RedBud. He missed the first six rounds with a back injury (two compressed vertebrae).

MORE: Spreading the Motocross Wealth

Schedule:

Qualifiers: 10:15 p.m. ET on NBC Sports Gold
Race: Live, 1 p.m. ET on NBC Sports Gold (Moto 1), Moto 2 at 3 p.m. ET on NBC (250 Moto 2, re-air at 7 on NBC).

June 29 – 2019; The Wick 338

450: Marvin Musquin (1-2) won over Zach Osborne (3-1) and Eli Tomac (2-3)
250: Adam Cianciarulo (1-2) won over Dylan Ferrandis (3-1) and Justin Cooper (2-3)

July 7 – 2018; RedBud 

450: Marvin Musquin (2-1) won over Ken Roczen (1-3) and Justin Barcia (4-2)
250: Aaron Plessinger (1-1) won over Alex Martin (4-3) and Dylan Ferrandis (3-4)

Overall Wins

450:
[2] Ken Roczen (Hangtown, Thunder Valley)
[2] Eli Tomac (Pala, High Point)
[2] Marvin Musquin (WW Ranch, Southwick)

250:
[5] Adam Cianciarulo (Hangtown, Pala, Thunder Valley, High Point, Southwick)
[1] Justin Cooper (WW Ranch)

Moto Wins

450:
[5] Eli Tomac (Hangtown II, Pala I & II, Thunder Valley II, WW Ranch I)
[3] Ken Roczen (Hangtown I, Thunder Valley I, High Point II)
[2] Marvin Musquin (WW Ranch I, Southwick I)
[1] Blake Baggett (High Point I)
[1] Zach Osborne (Southwick II)

250:
[5] Adam Cianciarulo (Hangtown II, Pala II, Thunder Valley II, High Point II, Southwick I)
[3] Justin Cooper (Hangtown I, Pala I, Thunder Valley I)
[2] Dylan Ferrandis (WW Ranch II, Southwick II)
[1] Hunter Lawrence (High Point I)
[1] Chase Sexton (WW Ranch I)

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Attention NASCAR teams: IMSA drivers available for Daytona!

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NASCAR will be making its debut on the Daytona International Speedway road course next month, and there’s a big fan who’d like to join the historic weekend.

This fan actually has impressive credentials, too — a few thousand laps around the 12-turn, 3.56-mile layout that annually plays host to the Rolex 24 at Daytona in January.

In 2014, the winning GTLM team in the sports car endurance classic included IMSA Porsche driver Nick Tandy, who rabidly has followed NASCAR for more than 30 years since growing up in England.

So why not try racing NASCAR? Especially because Tandy has the weekend of Aug. 14-16 free.

He’s not picky, either — offering up his services on Twitter (as well as those of Porsche teammate Earl Bamber) for an ARCA, Xfinity, trucks or Cup ride.

Tandy’s affinity for American stock-car racing runs deep.

His first trip to the World Center of Racing was as a fan attending the 50th running of the Daytona 500 on Feb. 17, 2008. During Rolex testing in January, Tandy, 35, said he hadn’t missed a Cup race on TV in 15 years.

Among his favorite NASCAR drivers: the Earnhardts, Jimmie Johnson and Kyle Busch. When IMSA ran the Indianapolis Motor Speedway road course in 2014, Tandy stayed a few extra days at the Brickyard and bought Kyle Busch gear for himself and his children.

He briefly took the stage during a NASCAR weekend last October. After IMSA’s season finale at Road Atlanta, Tandy made a few demonstration laps and a burnout in his No. 911 Porsche before the Cup race at Talladega Superspeedway.

He also has some experience in stock cars, having raced Modified-type grass-roots series on England’s quarter-mile short tracks.

Couple that with a Daytona road course record that includes two consecutive podium class finishes (including last Saturday) and a sports car resume with 13 IMSA victories and an overall win in the 2015 24 Hours of Le Mans … and maybe a NASCAR team should take a look.

And Tandy isn’t the only IMSA driver who likely would be available.

Corvette driver Jordan Taylor, who won the 2017 Rolex 24 overall title with Jeff Gordon as a teammate (and the inspiration for his Rodney Sandstrom persona), also tweeted his availability for the weekend on the high banks.

Sports car veteran Andy Lally, a GTD driver with multiple class wins in the Rolex 24 as well as 38 Cup starts (he was the 2011 rookie of the season in NASCAR’s premier series), also hung out his shingle.

There also is AIM Vasser Sullivan’s Jack Hawksworth (who just won at Daytona last Saturday), the Englishman who teamed with Kyle Busch at the Rolex 24 in January and made an Xfinity start at Mid-Ohio last year with Joe Gibbs Racing.

Many sports car drivers (such as Taylor) already live in Florida, and many are hunkering down in the Sunshine State with IMSA returning to action at Daytona last week and Sebring International Raceway next week. Because of COVID-19-related travel concerns and restrictions, several IMSA stars who live outside the country are riding out the pandemic within a few hours of Daytona with nothing to do.

Why not a weekend at the World Center of Racing?

Over the years, scads of “road-course ringers” (including some Formula One veterans) have tried their hands in stock cars at Sonoma Raceway and Watkins Glen International.

How about considering the many sports car drivers who already have reached victory lane at Daytona by making a few right-hand turns, too?