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Sign of the (Lap) Times: Salt Lake City

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The pool of storylines was drying up going into Salt Lake City as we had the Marvin Musquin versus Eli Tomac drama after Foxborough and not much else. Jason Anderson had a 34-point lead in 450SX and it looked like he was going to easily clinch the championship this past weekend and in 250SX West, Aaron Plessinger had a 17-point lead which is pretty big in the shorter 250SX season. 

But then Tomac's footpeg destroyed Anderson's front wheel, cutting Anderson's championship cushion to 14 points and we suddenly have some drama heading into the final round of the championship in Las Vegas. 

First, let’s dive into the lap data from Salt Lake City to figure out how these races were won and lost with this week’s Sign of the (Lap) Times and then we'll get into some title scenarios for this weekend. 

450SX Class Lap Times

Lap Rank Finish Best Lap On Lap Avg Lap Time Rider
1 1st 48.402 4 49.918 Marvin Musquin
2 2nd 48.631 7 49.988 Eli Tomac
3 3rd 48.872 6 50.396 Blake Baggett
4 17th 49.071 12 50.414 Jason Anderson
5 6th 49.109 4 50.858 Justin Brayton
6 5th 49.122 7 50.669 Justin Barcia
7 4th 49.232 6 50.578 Christian Craig
8 14th 49.424 4 53.037 Malcolm Stewart
9 7th 49.774 9 51.002 Weston Peick
10 8th 49.924 8 51.639 Benny Bloss
11 9th 50.349 5 52.127 Vince Friese
12 13th 50.414 9 52.718 Dean Wilson
13 11th 50.740 4 53.503 Chad Reed
14 10th 50.819 5 52.339 Tyler Bowers
15 12th 51.207 9 53.509 Kyle Cunningham
16 15th 51.771 4 54.161 Cedric Soubeyras
17 16th 52.337 5 55.545 Josh Hill
18 18th 52.544 5 56.345 Austin Politelli
19 19th 53.354 8 56.637 Cody Vanbuskirk
20 20th 53.888 5 58.231 Scott Champion
21 21st 54.739 4 1:00.269 Dakota Tedder
22 22nd DNF DNF DNF Alex Ray
Lap Rank Finish Best Lap On Lap Avg Lap Time Rider
1 1st 49.606 10 50.836 Shane McElrath
2 6th 50.184 9 52.069 Phil Nicoletti
3 4th 50.208 13 51.366 Aaron Plessinger
4 5th 50.293 5 51.727 Chase Sexton
5 3rd 50.316 4 51.223 Joey Savatgy
6 2nd 50.507 4 50.854 Adam Cianciarulo
7 8th 50.961 7 52.522 Mitchell Harrison
8 9th 50.979 4 53.539 Kyle Chisholm
9 16th 51.070 6 54.273 Hayden Mellross
10 14th 51.191 6 53.514 Justin Hill
11 7th 51.710 7 52.932 Dakota Alix
12 11th 51.739 9 53.610 Blake Wharton
13 15th 52.381 8 54.531 Michael Leib
14 12th 52.573 7 54.774 Dylan Merriam
15 13th 52.601 7 54.805 Justin Starling
16 10th 53.104 12 54.360 Martin Castelo
17 18th 53.460 7 56.285 Jess Pettis
18 17th 54.098 8 56.385 Brandan Leith
19 19th 54.372 5 56.602 Josh Mosiman
20 21st 54.378 3 56.924 Robbie Wageman
21 22nd 54.464 4 55.323 Chase Marquier
22 20th 55.120 4 58.302 Bradley Lionnet

Many of us thought Anderson was going to easily clinch the 450SX championship last weekend in Salt Lake City as he had a 34-point cushion over Marvin Musquin going into the weekend, but because of some broken spokes at the start of the main event, it didn't quite work out like that. 

Sitting in the pits watching your mechanics swap out your front tire for two minutes while the only person who could steal the championship from you is winning the main event has got to be near the top of the list for stressful situations. Because Anderson was forced into such a high-stress situation at the very beginning of the main event, I wanted to see how quickly he recovered and got his lap times on pace, or close to Musquin's times. 

The answer is: not long. Anderson settled into his pace almost immediately, and by the 12th lap he was close to or better than Musquin's times. Take a look at how he rebounded below. 

With the championship seemingly wrapped up going into the weekend, many turned their attention to the brewing battle between Musquin and Tomac after the take-down incident in Foxborough. Tomac got a bad start and had to work his way through the pack while Musquin was smooth sailing up front. 

Fueled by a some potential payback from last weekend (and obviously a 450SX main event win bonus check) Tomac was absolutely going for it while coming through the pack. Before his crash on lap 16 it seemed probable he would catch up to Musquin by the end of the race.

But after comparing their times, I'm not so sure Tomac would have gotten there. Musquin was very good on the tricky SLC track and was faster than Tomac on more than a few laps. Take a look at both of their times for the main event.

The championship races might not be as tight as we would all like, but still, there is potential for championship drama in all three class which isn't something we get every year. Anderson has a 14-point lead over Musquin, Plessinger has a 13-point lead over Adam Cianciarulo, and Osborne has a 15-point lead over Jordon Smith. JT$ did a great breakdown of some potential title-winning scenarios earlier this week, so check that out to get a pros perspective on how Las Vegas might shake down. Here I want to take a look at how the championship leaders got to where they are. 

ANDERSON

Anderson has led this title from the second round on, and through a few wins and consistent finishes, grew his lead to 45 points by Atlanta. After Atlanta his lead had a yo-yo effect to it as he lost a few points here and gained a few there. Then he lost a massive 20 points this past weekend due to his front wheel issue. He goes into this weekend with a 14-point lead, which is looking solid when you consider the most he has lost in a single round before last weekend was seven at Indianapolis. 

The start of the 250SX West championship was incredible as we got to see a three-way battle for the lead between Aaron Plessinger, Joey Savatgy, and Shane McElrath through the first four rounds. 

Then Plessinger started to stretch out his lead, getting it all the way up to 17 after that mud race in Seattle. He currently has a 13-point lead after a so-so performance in Salt Lake City. In typical Plessinger fashion, he's filling chill going into Vegas. "Yeah, I just chilled back there and got a solid fourth [in Salt Lake City] and didn’t lose too many points, and now we’re going into this weekend. If I’m feeling good, I might win it and if I’m not feeling too good, I’m just going to chill and whatever happens, happens, you know?"

Zach Osborne is the only rider of these three to have led or been tied at every round. He was in a tight battle for the championship with Austin Forkner before Forkner went down with an injury in Minneapolis. He now has a 15-point lead over Jordon Smith who has had a quietly good season, despite a slow start. The most points Osborne has lost in a round this season was three in Atlanta, so his 15 point lead is looking pretty safe. 

Now that we've taken a look at the championship leaders and how they got there, let's look at the contenders. Each one of these riders has a chance at the title. It's slim, but there's still a chance. With the help of the SX Research Department (definitely give their Instagram page a follow if you're into numbers) we put together these flash cards to break down each rider's title chances for this weekend. Bring on Vegas!

MUSQUIN