Supercross "This Week" Predictions -- Atlanta 2017
Another week, another non-win for Ryan Dungey. While the updated full-season prediction still sees Dungey as a heavy favorite to win the championship, each week Eli Tomac and Marvin Musquin have a chance to chip away at his lead. Who's got the talent and primed to win at Supercross week 8 in Atlanta?
As usual, the updated 2017 Supercross 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). The track/location effect has a slightly muted nature in Supercross compared to outdoors since the tracks are not exactly the same in Supercross sites from year to year (or even within the same year for sites like Angel Stadium or Petco where there are often multiple races in one season).
Here are the predictions for the 450 class this weekend.
Per usual, Dungey is at the top, but once again his margin is narrower than in the week before. It might seem incorrect to have Dungey as the predicted winner when Tomac has won 3 of the past 4 races, but keep in mind that over that stretch of 4 races, Tomac's average finishing spot has been 4.5 while Dungey's has been 3 (and Musquin has an average of 5.25). Also note that Dungey's last 3 years' results in Atlanta for 450SX have been 3rd, 2nd, 1st, and 1st, with the two wins being the most recent.
The really interesting part is when you get to the Track Adjustment: Tomac has a very mixed past at the Georgia Dome. In chronological order, from 2013 forward: 7th, 21st, 20th, 2nd, 11th (20th and 2nd were both in 2015). So, Tomac's average finish there is just worse than 12th. If you throw out the 2 races in the 20's (not that we would, but just to hypothetically give him the benefit of the doubt that something went wrong that was out of his control), he'd still have an average at the Georgia Dome of nearly 7th place, which is worse than his average finishing spot--in 450SX during those years--of 5.5 everywhere else.
That drops Tomac from 2nd to 3rd, and Musquin improves based on his 1 450SX race in Atlanta -- he finished 2nd while finishing an average of just better than 9th everywhere else. (I'm sure we'll be reminded plenty of times that Musquin could have had his first 450SX win in Atlanta last year if not for some lapper traffic from James Stewart.) Musquin also had 3 out of 3 podiums, finishing 1st, 2nd, and 3rd at the Georgia Dome in the 250SX class.
Without the injured Cooper Webb, Trey Canard slides into 6th, but then loses a spot based on the Injury Adjustment, dropping behind Davi Millsaps and is basically even with Chad Reed after all adjustments. Canard has both good and bad history at the Georgia Dome -- his most recent result was 16th (2016), but in 2015 he placed 3rd in each of the two Atlanta races.
After Tomac, Josh Grant has the biggest Track Adjustment, as he's finished 9th (2014) and 10th / 6th (both 2015) at the Georgia Dome, versus just worse than 12th everywhere else during that timeframe. Also notable are Jason Anderson and Cole Seely, who have fairly large negative adjustments based on worse than average results in Atlanta, but neither drops a spot.
Justin Brayton also gains ground with the Track Adjustment, as he was 5th in Atlanta in 2016 and 2014 (no result in 2015), compared to 9th everywhere else. Because of Brayton's move up, Justin Barcia drops a spot -- though Barcia has a very small positive Track Adjustment based on his 4th place in 2013. It seems Barcia has not ridden in the Georgia Dome since then, so the data is limited in his case!
Last up is Jake Weimer, who was 8th in Atlanta in 2013, but since then was 15th, 20th, and 17th. The Injury Adjustment (he's dealing with a back injury) and the Track Adjustment cause a drop from 17th down to 19th.
Things to watch:
1. Is Dungey really declining, or is this just a mini-slump? Or is it neither, considering his average result for the past 4 weeks is better than Tomac's and Musquin's?
2. Musquin also has a good record at the Georgia Dome, so will he stay hot?
3. If the Atlanta races really do cause problems for Tomac, does it even matter with the speed he's showing? Maybe he just goes from winning by 8 seconds to winning by 4.
4. Lots of guys are either recovering from injury or trying to get back into form -- Trey Canard, Chad Reed, Justins Barcia/Brayton/Bogle, and Jake Weimer. That leaves the Top 10 wide open for some new blood, or perhaps another Mike Alessi sighting.