MX Outdoor "This Week" Predictions -- Hangtown 2017
Expectations for Eli Tomac are extremely high heading into the opening weekend of MX Outdoor Nationals, but what do the numbers think? Looking below, you'll see the predictions for Hangtown do expect a comfortable win for Tomac once both motos are complete. There are a couple of surprises after that, depending on what you expect from, say, Marvin Musquin, Cole Seely, and Justin Barcia. Who's got the talent and primed to win at Hangtown for the motocross pros Week 1?
As usual, the updated 2017 Motocross Prediction puts the whole season in perspective, while the "This Week" rankings look at the riders' perceived ability (aka "true talent") as well as taking into account injuries and the riders' history at the upcoming track.
**For those not familiar, a brief explanation of the components that factor into the "This Week" rankings:
The standard MotoXGraphs prediction of rider performance, based on the current and prior seasons, weighing recent results more heavily. It differs from the "Full Season" prediction in that it is not worrying about the rider's current point standings (which obviously are a crucial part of the full season prediction), only about their current ability.
Attempts to account for riders competing at less than 100% due to injury. Full research behind the Injury Adjustment can be found in The MX Book (or eBook). While this adjustment is only an estimate (what predictions aren't?), the purpose of the Injury Adjustment is less about trying to make an exact prediction and is more about indicating that a rider is recovering from injury so the viewer can take that into account at whatever scale he or she chooses.
Provides an increase or decrease in expected points for the riders based on their historical performance (over the past 4 years, where applicable) in the upcoming city/stadium. Also validated by research in The MX Book ( or eBook).
Here are the predictions for the 450 class this weekend.
Musquin is in 2nd behind Tomac and ahead of Jason Anderson. This will be a very telling race for both Musquin and Anderson -- Anderson was better overall in MX last year, yet Musquin was much better in the just completed SX season. Will Musquin's success carry over, or is Anderson simply better at outdoors than Musquin?
Similarly, the numbers like Cooper Webb, pegging him in 4th, despite a not-so-great SX season. In his offseason 450 races (not considered in the numbers above), Webb looked solid, so hopefully for him the ranking in 4th is an accurate predictor that he'll be in contention for the podium in his rookie MX season in the Upper class. (I mean, someone's got to step up to challenge Tomac.)
The rating I'm most skeptical of is for Justin Barcia. Surely, he has the talent, as the numbers wouldn't put him in 5th if that weren't the case, but he just hasn't looked like himself over the past 12 to 18 months. Maybe it's the bike change in 2017, or lingering injuries. By my eyes, more likely to challenge for the Top 5 is Blake Baggett, who looked like he was returning to form during the Supercross season and typically gets better in the outdoors.
Some other wildcards are Josh Grant, who finished the Supercross season strong and has numbers that are clouded by injuries and inconsistent bike/team sponsorship. Christian Craig doesn't have a long track record, looked pretty fast in Supercross, and has been struck by injury. If healthy, Craig could be a consistent Top 10. And Malcolm Stewart, of course, is another interesting unknown. He does have a track record of pro 450 MX results, but not recent ones. His 2016 SX season was very promising, winning the East, but his 2017 450 season was inconsistent -- yet blurred by a late start with little prep time.
Also look out for Weston Peick, who may have a slightly unfairly low rating, considering he's coming off a pretty good finish to the SX season (although potentially bothered by injury). He has the most favorable Track Adjustment at Hangtown, based on finishes of 4th and 6th in 2014 and 2015 (though he finished 16th in 2016) -- an average of just better than 9th. He finished just worse than 13th everywhere else during that time frame.
So, let's get things started and see what kind of a season we're in for!