Race Previews: Pro Motocross heads west to Washougal

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Four weeks remain in the 2019 Lucas Oil Pro Motocross season as the riders head to the West Coast and Washougal MX Park.

Last week in Minnesota at Spring Creek, Eli Tomac kept his perfect record of podium finishes alive with a third-place overall that included moto finishes of second and fifth. Now that he firmly has the lead, he refuses to give up ground to Marvin Musquin who lost points to him in both races last week.

With a deficit of 38 points and eight motos remaining, Musquin no longer controls his fate but the math is not completely restrictive yet. Musquin needs to make up a little less than 10 points per weekend. So long as Tomac stands on the podium in the majority of motos, however, Musquin’s hopes are dashed. But that doesn’t mean there is not a lot of riding and racing on the horizon.

Last week Cooper Webb scored his first overall win in grand style. Entering the weekend without ever winning a moto in the outdoor season, Webb not only scored the overall but did so with a sweep of the two motos. It was a performance reminiscent of his first win in the Supercross series that opened up an immediately floodgate.

In 250s, after wining his second moto of the season and finishing third overall Hunter Lawrence suffered a practice crash earlier this week and will not race. According to his Instagram page a freak accident caused the accident and injury. Lawrence does not disclose the nature of the injury, but says surgery will probably be required.

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Hey guys, so a freak accident happened yesterday whilst i was out training and we had something break in the engine at the top of a jump upramp and locked up, by the time i let go of the handlebars i was already lawn darting into the ground 🎯, my team pulled apart the engine asap and what we found was a freak accident and what part broke we normally run for 100 hours and this part only had 3 hrs on it! So it wasn’t my teams fault we are digging to the bottom of it to prevent this happening again, thankyou to my team for supporting me in times like this and everyone else who rides this rollercoaster of a sport with me, as of now we are unsure of the time frame i am out for but getting checked up today, most likely surgery is required, so sorry guys i’m speechless, good luck to my team mates this weekend, put those red rockets out front 💪🏽 #mirtztillithurtz #ithurtz #maddogdown #miloracing 📸- @crunch724 / @lebigusa

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Joey Crown’s introduction to Motocross continues to be beset by problems. An injury to his thumb while practicing last week at Spring Creek kept him off the bike. He hopes to be back in action in time for Unadilla next week.

MORE: Eli Tomac versus Marvin Musquin at Washougal

Schedule:

Qualifiers: 1:15 p.m. ET on NBC Sports Gold
Race: Live, 4 p.m. ET on NBC Sports Gold, Moto 2 at 6:30 p.m. ET on NBC Sports Gold, (Moto 2, re-air at 10 p.m. on NBC).

July 6 – 2019; Spring Creek

450: Cooper Webb  (1-1) won over Zach Osborne (4-3) and Eli Tomac (2-5)
250: Adam Cianciarulo (3-1) won over Alex Martin (2-3) and Hunter Lawrence (1-6)

July 28 – 2018; Washougal 

450: Eli Tomac (1-1) won over Ken Roczen (3-2) and Marvin Musquin (2-3)
250: Aaron Plessinger (4-3) won over Shane McElrath (9-1) and Joey Savatgy (1-9)

Overall Wins

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

250:
[6] Adam Cianciarulo (Hangtown, Pala, Thunder Valley, High Point, Southwick, Spring Creek)
[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)
[2] Cooper Webb (Spring Creek I & II)
[1] Blake Baggett (High Point I)
[1] Zach Osborne (Southwick II)

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

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American Flat Track puts emphasis on fans in building 2020 schedule

American Flat Track
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American Flat Track put an emphasis on fans and feedback from other series while also acknowledging everything is tentative while hammering out its schedule for the 2020 season.

The 18-race schedule over nine weekends will begin July 17-18 at Volusia Speedway Park in Barberville, Florida, about 20 miles from AFT’s headquarters in Daytona Beach, Florida.

The dirt track motorcycle racing series, which is sanctioned by AMA Pro Racing, shares a campus with its sister company, NASCAR, and American Flat Track CEO Michael Lock said the series closely observed how it’s handled races in its return during the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic and also built AFT’s procedures from NASCAR’s post-pandemic playbook of more than 30 pages.

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“I speak personally to the committee within NASCAR that has been put together for the restart, regularly talking to the communications people, general counsel and other relevant operations departments,” Lock told NBCSports.com. “So we’ve derived for Flat Track from NASCAR’s protocols, which I think are entirely consistent with all the other pro sports leagues that are attempting to return.

“Obviously with NASCAR the scale of the business is completely different. There were some times more people involved in the paddock and the race operations for NASCAR than the numbers of people at flat track. Our scale is much smaller, and our venues are generally smaller. So we can get our hands around all of the logistics. I think we’re very confident on that.”

While NASCAR has had just under 1,000 on site for each of its races without fans, Lock said American Flat Track will have between 400 to 500 people, including racers, crews, officials and traveling staff.

But another important difference from NASCAR (which will run at least its first eight races without crowds) is that American Flat Track intends to have fans at its events, though it still is working with public health experts and government officials to determine how many will be allowed and the ways in which they will be positioned (e.g., buffer zones in the grandstands).

Lock said capacity could will be limited to 30-50 percent at some venues.

American Flat Track will suspend its fan track walk, rider autograph sessions for the rest of the season, distribute masks at the gates and also ban paper tickets and cash for concessions and merchandise. Some of the best practices were built with input from a “Safe to Race Task Force” that includes members from various motorcycle racing sanctioning bodies (including Supercross and motocross).

There also will be limitations on corporate hospitality and VIP access and movement.

“I think everything the fans will see will be unusual,” Lock said. “Everything at the moment is unusual. We will roll out processes that are entirely consistent with the social distancing guidelines that will be in place at the time of the event. So we’re planning for a worst-case scenario. And if things are easier or better by the time we go to a venue, it’s a bonus.”

Lock said the restrictions are worth it because (unlike other racing series) AFT must have fans (even a limited number) for financial viability.

“We took a decision fairly early on in this process that it was neither desirable nor economically viable to run events without fans,” Lock said. “I can think of some big sports like NFL or like NASCAR where a huge chunk of that revenue is derived from broadcast, which means that your decision making as to how you run an event, where you can run an event has a different view than a sport like ours, or even like baseball, for example, that needs fans. Because the business model is so different.”

Broadcast coverage is important to American Flat Track, which added seven annual races over the past five years and can draw as many as 15,000 to its biggest events.

Lock said AFT ended the 2019 season with more than 50,000 viewers for each live event, making it the No. 1 property on FansChoice.TV. This year, the series has moved to TrackPass on NBC Sports Gold. “We’re expecting a really strong audience from Day 1, particularly with all this pent-up demand,” Lock said.

NBCSN also will broadcast a one-hour wrap-up of each race (covering heat races and main events).

Because the season is starting three months late, the doubleheader weekends will allow AFT to maintain its schedule length despite losing several venues. And there could be more, Lock said, noting that there still are three TBA tracks.

“There may still be some surprises to come from one venue or another of delay or cancellation,” he said. “But we are intending to run as full a season as possible.”

Here is the American Flat Track schedule for 2020:

July 17-18 (Friday-Saturday): Volusia Speedway Park, Barberville, Florida

July 31-Aug. 1 (Friday-Saturday):  Allen County Fairgrounds, Lima, Ohio

Aug. 28-29 (Friday-Saturday): TBA, Northeast United States

Sept. 5-6 (Saturday-Sunday): Illinois State Fairgrounds, Springfield, Illinois

Sept. 11-12 (Friday-Saturday): Williams Grove Speedway, Mechanicsburg, Pennsylvania

Sept. 25-26 (Friday-Saturday): TBA, Texas

Oct. 2-3 (Friday-Saturday): Dixie Speedway, Woodstock, Georgia

Oct. 9-10 (Friday-Saturday): TBA, North Carolina

Oct. 15-16 (Thursday-Friday): AFT season finale, Daytona Beach, Florida