Ironman Preview: It all comes down to the final race

August 24, 2017

Who will claim the 450 Class Championship? Three different riders could stake claim.

It's here — the final round of the 2017 Lucas Oil Pro Motocross Championship. One championship has already been decided, but the other is still to come, and three different riders could all stake a claim to it.
 
Here's what's on the line this weekend at Ironman Raceway.
 
The 450 Class championship

 
The marquee prize of every Lucas Oil Pro Motocross season has come down to the final race.
 
Here's how it stands right now: Current leader Eli Tomac is 28 points up on Blake Baggett and 30 points up on Marvin Musquin. That means Tomac could wrap this up in the first moto — all he needs to do is be more than 25 points ahead of both riders after that first moto. There's a number of scenarios in which that could happen, but the easiest thing would be for Tomac to finish ahead of both of them in Moto 1.
 
While Tomac is clearly in the driver's seat here, and this is certainly his title to lose, it's far from a sure thing. Things can change quickly in motocross — just look at all the momentum swings in the 450 Class this year — and all it would take is one mechanical issue resulting in a DNF for Tomac to get his rivals right back in the game.
 
Racing for a ride
 

One of the season's biggest surprises in the 450 Class this season has clearly been Justin Bogle. After catching everyone off-guard with a moto win earlier in the summer, Bogle got another one last week at Budds Creek and followed it up by winning the overall for the day.
 
It's good timing for Bogle, who is due to be a free agent at the end of 2017. His current team, RCH/Yoshimura Suzuki, is closing up shop after Ironman, so Bogle is in search of a new deal with a factory team. He's shown a lot already, but another breakout showing at Ironman would bolster his resume even further.
 
Another guy looking for a new ride for 2018 is Justin Barcia, who has missed the last few rounds due to a concussion. The JGR Suzuki rider is slated to make his return for the finale at Ironman, and it will be one last chance to showcase himself heading into the offseason.
 
Herlings looks to measure up

 
American motocross fans and European motocross fans love to debate which series has the best riders. The upcoming USGP stop will put some of these guys head-to-head, but we'll have an early preview at Ironman.
 
After a few days of speculation, Jeffrey Herlings confirmed that he's entering this week's Lucas Oil Pro Motocross race. Herlings, who is racing his first season of MXGP after moving up from MX2, currently sits second in points in the MXGP series. He'll be aboard a KTM at Ironman, albeit one that's different from what he normally races overseas (due to differences in regulations between the two series).
 
Over the years, we've seen GP regulars such as Shaun Simpson (2015) and Dean Ferris come over here and immediately prove capable of mixing it up with the top Lucas Oil Pro Motocross riders. Could Herlings be the latest?
 
Final act in the 250 Class
Last week at Budds Creek, Zach Osborne clinched the 250 Class title one round early. That means no one will be racing this weekend with a title on their mind, which might lead to some high-octane racing as everyone just chases down a victory.
 
After his win, Osborne revealed his plans for 2018: He's planning to stay on a 250 during the supercross season before moving up to the premier class once the motocross season starts. So that would make Ironman his final outdoor race on a 250.
 
As for this week, Osborne will certainly be a contender, but Adam Cianciarulo is another one to watch. Four years after making his pro debut, the Monster Energy/Pro Circuit Kawasaki rider finally notched the first moto win and first overall victory of his career. It was a long time coming, especially considering how close he had come in recent weeks. The question now is, can he keep it going? Motocross is all about momentum at times, and we've seen huge shifts stem just from riders gaining confidence after a good result.
 
Round 12 from Ironman Raceway will take place on Saturday, August 26. Click here for more info on how to watch. And remember, it's not too late to order the NBC Sports Gold Pro Motocross Pass. Even though there's only one round left, you'll still get access to archives of all the motos from 2015, 2016 and 2017.

 

Make sure to tune in this Saturday, August 26 for live coverage from Ironman. Click here for detailed info on how to watch.