Finally Dungey and Roczen squared off mano-et-mano.
2016 Week 7 - By-The-Numbers Recap: Arlington
At long last we got a chance for the two favorites to really go at it. Ken Roczen was on it all day: 5th-fastest qualifying lap and won his heat race, with Ryan Dungey finishing 3rd. Dungey did put up the fastest qualifying lap, though. Then, in the main event, Roczen got the holeshot, with Dungey right on his heels. Dungey managed to slip by for about a half of a lap, but Roczen regained the lead, then managed to hold Dungey off for the remainder of the race. There weren't a lot of numbers to it: the race came down to Roczen's ability to fend off all of Dungey's challenges, and on the night Roczen was the better racer.
With all of the excitement going on at 1-2, the rest of the race was overshadowed. Some notable results did happen outside of the two stars, though. I would say Jason Anderson had his most consistent night. He qualified with the 8th best lap (not great), then won his heat race. He got a reasonably good holeshot, in 6th, then eventually caught Cole Seely in lap 15, securing a 3rd place finish. I was curious if Anderson, in his late-charging fashion, was closing the gap with Roczen/Dungey of the last half or last third of the race, but that wasn't really the case. In laps 15 and 16, Anderson was faster than the average of Roczen and Dungey, but in all the other laps Anderson was slower.
Cole Seely had another good finish, following his #2 at San Diego 2, however he couldn't hold off Anderson down the stretch, leaving Seely in 4th. Seely had a solid qualifying lap time, slotting in at 7th, but had to go through the Semi race to make the main event. So considering he was a little off his game at Arlington, 4th was a surprisingly good spot.
Eli Tomac and Marvin Musquin can share a race description: very poor start, then caught up to the pack for a respectable result. Musquin added in a minor crash, though. Tomac was a bit off all night -- he was 6th in qualifying times, but also 6th in his Heat race and 5th in the Semi. Musquin qualified with the 2nd fastest lap, but also had to go to the Semi race after finishing 8th in his Heat. Of the two, Musquin was probably most impressive in that he came from all the way back in 22nd to move up to 6th; in the latter half of the race, Musquin was faster than Anderson on 4 of 10 laps, and faster than Seely on 7 of 10.
Davi Millsaps rebounded from a poor finish last week to a 7th place at Arlington. He's been up and down from week to week, alternating between 8th, 12th, 7th, 12th, 5th, 11th, and now 7th again. He qualified 12th in practice, which is pretty underwhelming, but finished 3rd in his Heat race, above Trey Canard, Eli Tomac, and Marvin Musquin, among others.
Christophe Pourcel had by far his best finish, in 8th, with his next-best being 12th. One help, probably, was getting 9th in the holeshot, although he quickly fell back to 13th and had to work his way up to 8th, with a little help near the end from crashes by Justin Bogle and Vince Friese. On the day, Pourcel put in his usual good qualifying time, the 3rd-best, but then he finished 2nd in the Heat race, ahead of notables Dungey, Reed, and Seely. Prior to that, Pourcel hadn't been able to get the fast qualifying time to translate to the Heat or Main Event races -- maybe he's finally coming around?
Trey Canard had a bit of a letdown after finishing 5th last week, though. He got a poor start, in 15th, then had a bit of a crash in Lap 8 while trying to climb back toward the top. The silver lining would be that he looked fine leading up to the main event, qualifying 5th and finishing 4th in his Heat race, seeming to have shaken off his injury.
Chad Reed had another, even worse week, finishing 12th. He had some trouble in the opening lap and again in Lap 20, but the highest he ever got was 9th. He qualified all the way down in 15th, then had to go to the Semi race after finishing 6th in the heat. He finished 4th in the Semi, which has to be a bit troubling for him (though he finished a spot above Tomac).
That is a good segue into the race predictions, where I felt the numbers gave a good forecast, except for Reed (my claim of not liking Reed at #3 here). Of course the big misses were in the Top 3, which is a bit of a problem: Roczen actually getting the win and Reed finishing outside the Top 10. Other than that, though, it looks pretty good -- no other rider in my Top 10 is off by more than 2:
Pourcel was a big surprise, and Weston Peick finished way below his prediction due to mechanical failure that left him with a DNF. The rest were pretty close. (Only 17 listed because Broc Tickle, Blake Baggett, and Lawson Bopping did not race.)
P.S., for those wondering about the "Passing Index", Arlington had 130 passes, which is second-highest only behind San Diego 1 so far this season, so the race was exciting because we had Dungey and Roczen battling it out the whole way, but also there was plenty of action happening for the rest of the field.