Ryan Dungey

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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