What's new in the 450XS predictions? Compared to last week, the big mover is Chad Reed, who again tore up the course. He's now projected to finish 4th, which is 1 spot above his preseason prediction but 3 spots above last week. Reed's week 1 finish of 6th, coupled with Jason Anderson finishing 1st and Cole Seely finishing 3rd, caused Reed to drop in the early prediction updates -- but two successive 2nd place results has Reed climbing back above those two. (Find links to previous predictions at the "Blog" page.)
Also passed by Reed is Trey Canard, whose DNF dropped him to 11th in the standings and 7th in the projections, one point behind Jason Anderson. Canard's results haven't impressed, and certainly haven't lived up to preseason predictions of #4. If he's battling injuries the rest of the way, then getting back near the top doesn't seem likely for him. That said, the #4 through #7 group of riders is very closely gathered, so it doesn't take much for one to jump in front of the others.
A riser was Blake Baggett, even though he hasn't raced yet. He's supposed to return this week in Oakland, and he's only got 2015 result as the basis for his prediction. His move up in the rankings, though, is due to an injury to Dean Wilson and underwhelming performances from Marvin Musquin, Wil Hahn, and Jake Weimer, who each move down a little bit. I'm suspicious of Baggett being ranked at #10, and the numbers don't know that he's coming off of an injury, which may require some time to get back to full speed and to regain his endurance.
James Stewart moved up three spots, largely for the same reasons as Baggett. And just like Baggett, there are concerns about recovery from injury that the numbers don't know. One difference is that Stewart is hurt by the week 1 finish with 1 point, which serves as his 2016 average result, while Baggett has no such result from 2016 to hurt (or help) his stock.
Dean Wilson fell 5 spots, as mentioned, because of his injury in Anaheim for week 3. His status is unknown for Oakland and beyond, but he hasn't been ruled out as of right now, so he'll stay at #15.
Jumping into the last spot is Vince Friese, based on two consecutive finishes in the points. He barely nips Phillip Nicoletti and Justin Bogle, as well as yet-to-ride Andrew Short, who is expected back in week 7.
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