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Countdown to The Ironman: It’s Tomac’s to take

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There are not very many off weeks in the Lucas Oil Motocross and Supercross seasons, but with three events remaining the riders get a chance this weekend to decompress and work around the shop.

Eli Tomac will be looking at his record at the end of the 2018 season while Marvin Musquin can only hope that Tomac has more trouble in the final six motos of this season than he has had for the entire year.

Here is how the points break down. Tomac holds an advantage of 50 points over Musquin in second and 57 over Ken Roczen.

Tomac’s magic number is fourth. If he finishes that well in the next six motos, Musquin cannot catch him because he needs to make up 8.3 points per race. Roczen must gain 9.5 points per race.

This assumes two things: that either Musquin or Roczen is perfect and Tomac consistently finishes off the podium with at least one terrible moto per event.

In the final six motos of the 2018 season, Roczen struggled in one event. Finishing seventh overall at Unadilla with a 7-7, he scored only 28 points. He rebounded the following week at Budds Creek to win Moto 1 and swept the podium in the last three motos of the season – but that was a far cry from perfection.

With only one overall podium in the last five weeks of this season, Roczen does not have the momentum on his side to launch the type of attack needed. For now, barring a miracle Roczen can be disregarded.

In the final six motos of 2018 Musquin also had only one win. He took the overall at Unadilla with a 2-1, which was followed by two more top-three finishes in the next two races. Musquin was not perfect, but he scored a worst finish of fourth in those last six races.

Of course Musquin does not need to be perfect in the final three events if Tomac stumbles. But therein lies the problem. Tomac refuses to stumble.

In the final six motos of 2018 Tomac stood on the podium five times with two victories. The only time he failed to finish that well was in the final moto of the season when he finished ninth.

Tomac has gotten off to some spectacularly slow starts in many of the first nine rounds, but he has been able to rebound immediately.

For Musquin to have a shot at Tomac, he needs a season’s worth of bad luck in the final three rounds. Actually make that more than a season’s worth of bad luck. In 18 motos run this year, Tomac has finished worse than fourth only three times. He was fifth in Moto 1 of Thunder Valley and seventh in Moto 1 of WW Ranch. In both of those rounds, he came back to win Moto 2.

At Spring Creek two weeks ago, Tomac showed his only sign of weakness with a 2-5 and overall finish of third. Part of the reason for Tomac finishing modestly in that round was because he had Musquin behind him on both motos with a 3-7 and overall of fourth.

New study surveys drivers’ opinions on crashes, concussions, more

James Black/IndyCar
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Auto racing safety has continued to improve through the decades, but the sport remains inherently dangerous, according to a new survey.

At the close of 2018, a new organization called Racing Safety United emerged with the intention of reducing drivers’ risk of being harmed.

RSU is made up of more than 30 members including former NASCAR Cup Series competitor Jerry Nadeau, two-time NASCAR Xfinity Series champion Randy LaJoie, NHRA team owner Don Schumacher and motorsports journalist Dick Berggren.

One of RSU’s first initiatives was to determine what current drivers thought of racing safety. The organization developed a 14-question survey and promoted it on select motorsports websites and forums. 

Participants were given the opportunity to disclose their identity or remain anonymous, and those who provided contact information were entered to win a $500 prize (for anonymous participants, the prize funds would be donated to a motorsports charity). 

More than 140 individuals participated in the survey over the course of 12 months. Below are the results of the survey:

Driver status

The vast majority of survey participants (60%) were amateur racers, while 26% of the participants were classified as Semi-Pro/Professional racers. The remaining 14% consisted of other individuals involved in the sport such as team owners and crew chiefs. 

When asked how frequently they race, 58% of driver respondents averaged 10 or more times per year on track, while 42% averaged 10 times or less.

The top five tracks respondents said they raced most often: Road Atlanta (21 votes), Watkins Glen (17 votes), Virginia International Raceway (16 votes), Mid-Ohio (16 votes), and Road America (13 votes).

Vehicular damage, injuries common

Over a third of respondents said they had been injured while racing, and almost two-thirds sasid they had suffered severe vehicle damage while racing

Driver error was cited as the top cause of vehicle damage (42 mentions), followed by concrete walls (26 mentions), mechanical failures (24 mentions), and other drivers (19 mentions). The study concluded those results indicated a need for better driver training/coaching, energy absorbing walls, and more technical inspections.

Almost a quarter of drivers said they had experienced racing-related concussions, and nearly half the respondents said one or multiple concussions would affect their decision to race in the future. 

Drivers primarily influenced by peers 

Roughly half the drivers said they would consider adopting new safety equipment if influenced by another driver (51 total mentions) and/or if recommended by a sanctioning body (47 total mentions). The study concluded those results indicated a need for drivers to become safety advocates and educate other drivers and for sanctioning bodies to mandate safety equipment. 

Drivers concerned with concrete walls

Approximately three-quarters of the drivers surveyed said they believed certain race tracks were more dangerous than others. Nearly half the drivers surveyed believe that concrete walls were the primary cause of damage to drivers and vehicles. 

Drivers willing to help

Just more than three-quarters of the drivers surveyed said that they would be willing to join a safety alliance to advocate for safer tracks. Two-thirds of drivers said that they also would be willing to contribute to a motorsports safety fund.

Click here for the full results of RSU’s survey

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