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2016 Week 16 - By-The-Numbers Recap: East Rutherford

For the second week in a row, Ken Roczen blasted off and left the rest of the riders in his dust (more below).  The focus was drawn to the clinching of the overall title, but with this win Roczen also secured 2nd place for the season.  

Nearly as impressive as Roczen's win was Eli Tomac's run from 7th up to 2nd.  That run included passes of some impressive names: Chad Reed, Justin Brayton, Ryan Dungey, and Cole Seely among them.  Compare Tomac to the other riders in the top 4, especially Seely and Dungey since they were battling with Tomac over the final third of the race for that #2 spot:

Tomac, after the halfway point, bettered both Seely and Dungey in every lap (except for the inconsequential Lap 20).  He even logged two laps that were faster than Roczen's, though Roczen may have been riding in a bit of cruise control at that point with such a substantial lead.  Tomac qualified 2nd in practice, but then had to go through the Semi, where he only finished 3rd, which I imagine had all Eli fans worried that last week was another fluke.  But his race certainly made it look like this week and last week were for real.  As something of a side note, Tomac had ridden very well at MetLife Stadium in the past (
covered here), and now he's finished 2nd, 1st, and 2nd in three races there -- this was enough to move him up to 3rd from 5th in the predictions.

You can also see in that graph how dominant Roczen was: nearly every one of his laps was faster than ANY lap from Seely or Dungey.   In fact, Roczen's slow lap was 46.666 seconds, and aside from the 3 mentioned above, only 4 other riders put up a lap faster than Roczen's slowest -- Jason Anderson, Marvin Musquin, Weston Peick (!), and Trey Canard.  That means 14 riders, including many notable names, weren't able to up a lap as fast as Roczen's worst.

Cole Seely reached his first podium of the season since Week 6 (Edit: not sure who I was thinking of), managing to hold off Dungey, though Dungey might have finally been holding back some, putting a priority on locking up the season title rather than making risky moves to pass Seely or hold off Tomac.  Seely qualified all the way down in 14th, then was 4th in his Heat Race.  Whatever was bothering him disappeared in the Main Event, and he beat his projection (7th) substantially.

He might be disappointed in the night's result, but Ryan Dungey put the finishing touches on a well-deserved 1st place for the 2016 season.  Later in the week, we'll look at how impressive Dungey's performance over the season was -- it certainly seems like one of the bigger gaps between him and the rest of the field.  Not the very biggest, but one of more lopsided victories.  While getting blown out by Roczen again, not quite being able to catch Seely, and having Tomac go by him (thus ending the consecutive podium streak) must be a bit worrisome, the good news for Dungey is that he was still faster than every other rider in laps 2 through 18, other than Roczen and Tomac:

(*Unlike the AMA Supercross laptimes, I'm not throwing out oddball laps -- they often remove laps with wrecks or things like that from their MIN/MAX/AVG.)

Justin Brayton had another good finish, as 5th ties his best of the season (Week 8 in Atlanta).  He managed to get off the line quickly, in 4th, then managed to pass Chad Reed for 3rd by the end of Lap 1.  He couldn't hold off Dungey or Tomac, getting passed by them during the middle section of the race, but he did manage to avoid getting caught by Jason Anderson, Marvin Musquin, or Trey Canard, all of whom were charging hard down the stretch.  

From those three, Jason Anderson (finished 6th) and Trey Canard (finished 8th) had fairly similar races: not great starts (9th and 10th, respectively), followed by gradually advancing a few spots, but ultimately not the result they were hoping for (6th and 8th).  Marvin Musquin, though, got himself in trouble right at the start of the race, when he got a little squirrely and looked to have bounced off the rider to his left (and also maybe to his right -- either way, both were slightly ahead of him).  It was actually pretty impressive that Marvin kept upright, though his mistake put him near the back of the pack (17th) right from the start.  To get all the way back up into 7th took quite a bit of work, and he event managed to pass Canard along the way.

Maybe this point has been beaten into the dust, but we again see
just how deep this class of riders has been for the 2016 season.  Chad Reed got a great start in 2nd, but he apparently didn't have his A game, dropping back to a 9th place finish.  But if you look at the list of riders that passed him, you can't really be too upset about getting passed by any particular one of them: Seely, Dungey, Brayton, Tomac, Anderson, Musquin, and Canard.  Maybe we'll hear more about if something was bothering Reed -- I hate to say it, but it could be just fading down the stretch of a long, gruelling season, as his last six races have been 4 / 4 / 6 / 6 / 9 / 9.

Justin Bogle had a decent race, and was looking good early, riding in 7th, but he ran into the same problem as Reed: he was passed by Anderson, Musquin, and Canard.  It's hard to believe that 10th could be considered a decent finish, but when you look at the names ahead of Bogle, you almost think you're downright happy with 10th.  Then again, Bogle finished 2nd in his Heat Race, so going into the Main Event he probably was thinking more along the lines of his 6th from last week or his 4th from two weeks ago.

Weston Peick finished 11th, just barely maintaining his spot in 10th overall for the season, by 5 points over Bogle.
Blake Baggett recovered from his horrible performance/luck last week and finished 12th.  He has yet to put up any result close to the 5th place he put up in Indy.
Broc Tickle managed to break his string of three 14th's with…a 13th.
Josh Grant looked fairly good early in the day, including winning his Semi Race, but he ended up in 16th.
Jake Weimer, banged up after last week, only managed 17th.

Benny Bloss finished 19th, as you might notice has caught my interest because of his rookie status and even more so because he's
ridden multiple races in 250 and 450 Supercross.  His 19th place puts him pretty close to this week's prediction (low 20's/high teens).  He's had moments of looking quite competitive with even the good 450 riders -- riding 3rd for a while in his Semi Race last week (before crashing) and nearly making it through in his Semi Race this week) -- but he had another moment in the whoops that looked like it was going to be a mirror image of last week.  He just barely held on to avoid going over his handlebars, and then he made a great pass on Friese late in the race, only to have Friese make an aggressive move at the turn before the finish line, knocking Bloss down.  Bloss made short work of the LCQ, though, finishing 1st.

We all start to turn our sights to the outdoor series, but first there are a few more spots up for grabs.  Musquin has a shot at Reed for 5th (9 points separate them), Seely at Musquin for 6th (6 points), and Canard can try to get 8th back from Brayton (3 points).  The battle for 10th ("finished in the Top 10" sounds a lot better than 11th, 12th, or 13th) has four riders within 6 points -- Peick leads Bogle and Mike Alessi by 5, with Weimer 1 point behind them.  Just one more week to find out!

Posted by: SagehenMacGyver47   :::   As always – Feedback welcomed

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