Spring Creek Preview: Surging challengers chase down the leaders

Pro Motocross schedule
ProMotocross.com
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As the temperatures heat up across the South, the Lucas Oil Promo Motocross heads to Millville, Minn. at Spring Creek MX Park for Round 8 of the championship.

Both the 450 and 250 class have surging second-place riders who still believe they can win this year’s championship.

Marvin Musquin is determined to make the championship interesting after standing on the podium in three consecutive races. He won back to back at WW Ranch and Southwick. Last week, a terrible start to Moto 1 left him pinned under his bike on Lap 1, but rebounded to win Moto 2 and finish third overall.

While Musquin still mathematically controls his fate, Eli Tomac refuses to make it easy. Despite the occasional bad moto, Tomac has stood on the overall podium in every single race this year with wins at Pala, High Point and last week at RedBud.

The key to success will be in finding the perfect compromise between the ever shifting sand whoops and the hard-packed up and downhill sessions. Since the sand whoops often refuse to reveal their personality until Moto 1 is in the books, the overall will be in question until late in the day regardless of who dominates Race 1.

Likewise in the 250 class, second-place Dylan Ferrandis is making a charge on Adam Cianciarulo.

With three consecutive podium finishes, he was second overall at WW Ranch and Southwick. Last week he swept RedBud’s two motos while Cianciarulo stumbled to a fifth-place finish in Moto 1. The deficit currently sits at 25 points, but with 10 motos of action lying ahead of the riders, that can change quickly.

Chase Sexton will return to action this week after missing the last three motos and struggling with health issues for the last three rounds. With the championship out of reach, the 2019 250 East Supercross champion has nothing but winning on his mind.

MORE: Marvin Musquin interview

Schedule:

Qualifiers: 11:15 p.m. ET on NBC Sports Gold
Race: Live, 2 p.m. ET on NBC Sports Gold, Moto 2 at 4:30 p.m. ET on NBC Sports Gold, (Moto 2, re-air at 1 a.m. on NBC).

July 6 – 2019; Redbud

450: Eli Tomac (1-2) won over Jason Anderson (2-4) and Marvin Musquin (7-1)
250: Dylan Ferrandis (1-1) won over Adam Cianciarulo (5-2) and Justin Cooper (3-6)

July 21 – 2018; Spring Creek 

450: Eli Tomac (1-1) won over Ken Roczen (2-3) and Marvin Musquin (4-2)
250: Aaron Plessinger (1-1) won over Justin Cooper (4-3) and Alex Martin (7-2)

Overall Wins

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

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

Moto Wins

450:
[6] Eli Tomac (Hangtown II, Pala I & II, Thunder Valley II, WW Ranch I, RedBud I)
[3] Ken Roczen (Hangtown I, Thunder Valley I, High Point II)
[3] Marvin Musquin (WW Ranch I, Southwick I, RedBud II)
[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)
[4] Dylan Ferrandis (WW Ranch II, Southwick II, RedBud I & II)
[3] Justin Cooper (Hangtown I, Pala I, Thunder Valley I)
[1] Hunter Lawrence (High Point I)
[1] Chase Sexton (WW Ranch I)

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Miguel Oliveira wins MotoGP Thai Grand Prix, Bagnaia closes to two points in championship

MotoGP Thai Grand Prix
Mirco Lazzari / Getty Images
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Miguel Oliveira mastered mixed conditions on the Chang International Circuit in Buriram, Thailand to win the MotoGP Thai Grand Prix. Oliveira showed the adaptability as he navigated a race that began in wet conditions and turned dry over the course of the race. Oliveira won the Indonesian GP in similar conditions.

“It was a long race, but I can’t complain,” Oliveira said on CNBC. “Every time we get to ride in the wet, I’m always super-fast. When it started raining, I had flashbacks of Indonesia. I tried to keep my feet on the ground, make a good start and not make mistakes and carry the bike to the end.”

All eyes were on the championship, however. Francesco Bagnaia got a great start to slot into second in Turn 1.

Meanwhile Fabio Quartararo had a disastrous first lap. He lost five positions in the first couple of turns and then rode over the rumble strips and fell back to 17th. At the end of the first lap, Bagnaia had the points’ lead by two. A win would have added to the gain and for a moment, it appeared Bagnaia might assume the lead.

Early leader Marco Bezzecchi was penalized for exceeding track limits, but before that happened, Jack Miller got around Bagnaia and pushed him back to third. Oliveira was not far behind.

After throwing away ninth-place and seven points on the last lap of the Japanese GP last week, Bagnaia did not allow the competition to press him into a mistake. He fell back as far as fourth before retaking the final position on the podium.

“It’s like a win for me, this podium,” Bagnaia. “My first podium in the wet and then there was a mix of conditions, so I’m very happy. I want to thank Jack Miller. Before the race, he gave me a motivational chat.”

Miller led the first half of the Thai Grand Prix before giving up the top spot to Oliveira and then held on to finish second. Coupled with his Japanese GP win, Miller is now fully in the MotoGP championship battle with a 40-point deficit, but he will need a string of results like Bagnaia has put together in recent weeks – and he needs Bagnaia to lose momentum.

Miller’s home Grand Prix in Australia is next up on the calendar in two weeks.

Bagnaia entered the race 18 points behind Quartararo after he failed to score any in Japan. The balance of power has rapidly shifted, however, with Quartararo now failing to earn points in two of the last three rounds. Bagnaia won four consecutive races and finished second in the five races leading up to Japan. His third-place finish in Thailand is now his sixth MotoGP podium in the last seven rounds.

Aleix Espargaro entered the race third in the standings with a 25-point deficit to Quartararo, but was able to close the gap by only five after getting hit with a long-lap penalty for aggressive riding when he pushed Darryn Binder off course during a pass for position. Espargaro finished 11th.

Rain mixed up the Moto2 running order in the MotoGP Thai Grand Prix as well. Starting on a wet track, Somkiat Chantra led the opening lap in his home Grand Prix. He could not hold onto it and crashed one circuit later, but still gave his countrymen a moment of pride by winning the pole.

Half points were awarded as the race went only eight laps before Tony Arbolino crossed under the checkers first with Filip Salac and Aron Canet rounding out the podium.

American Joe Roberts earned another top-10 in eighth with Sean Dylan Kelly finishing just outside the top 10 in 11th.