Muddy Creek Raceway plays host to the fifth of 12 rounds in this year’s Lucas Oil Pro Motocross season, as the 450 and 250 riders prepare for today’s Tennessee National. Qualifying wrapped up earlier this morning, and there’s no surprise at the top of the 450 charts: Eli Tomac led with a time of 1:51.405, an impressive .629 seconds ahead of Marvin Musquin and nearly two seconds ahead of the rest of the field. In the 250 class, Justin Cooper’s 1:52.503 was almost two seconds faster than Shane McElrath in second.
With the riders prepared for another intense pair of motos this afternoon, there are plenty of interesting stories to follow in today’s action. Keep an eye on these three storylines after the gates drop:
Does anybody have even a remote chance of beating Eli Tomac for the overall this weekend?
Winning seven of the first eight motos of the year and all four overalls, Tomac has been basically untouchable this year. If he’s not leading most of the race, he’s finding a way around the leader in the late stages. To an outsider, he’s begun to make it look like he’s playing a video game on easy mode. There doesn’t seem to be an end in sight, either, as Tomac enters this weekend as the defending winner at this event and already holds a 28-point lead over Musquin in the standings.
How will this week’s injury-influenced rider changes affect the 250 field?
Suzuki gains one rider and loses another this weekend, as Enzo Lopes sits out with a broken collarbone and Jimmy Decotis makes his season debut after healing from a back injury. Colt Nichols makes his outdoor season debut for Yamaha after suffering a broken humerus in March; he had been seventh in the 250 class last year with a number of strong results. Kawasaki, meanwhile, will enter the weekend without Garrett Marchbanks, whose strained MCL will pause a respectable rookie campaign until Southwick.
Is Justin Hill’s promotion to a 450 permanent at this point?
The original plan for Hill was to move up full-time in 2019, with his promotion out of the 250 class for AutoTrader/Yoshimura Suzuki in “selected rounds” this year coming after Justin Bogle’s injury and fill-in rider Phil Nicoletti’s departure. But Hill took finishes of fourth and sixth in High Point in his first outdoor 450 race, compared to some mid-pack results so far this year on a 250. Having qualified second in the Indianapolis Supercross round earlier this year, he’s clearly comfortable riding in the top class.