The middle weekend of October is approaching, and that means the best off-season dirt bike race of the year is just around the corner. The Monster Energy Cup is almost here and I can’t wait. This event brings so many different aspects to the traditional Supercross race making it one of a kind. The three moto format makes for tight racing due to the shorter number of laps. The Superminis and the Amateur All-Star classes provide an opportunity for the fastest amateurs to taste everything that is Supercross; the bright lights, tens of thousands of fans watching, and a professional night show schedule are all things the amateur guys don’t get to experience often. And the potential for one guy to become a millionaire in just one night makes for a really cool racing environment for the pros. This year’s lineup may also be the most stacked we’ve seen as far as potential winners. Stewart, Dungey, Roczen, Millsaps, Barcia, Canard, Anderson. Goodness gracious, there is going to be some bar banging!
First question. Does anyone sweep all three motos and walk away with the Monster Million? And if not, who wins the overall? I don’t know. I don’t really think anyone takes the Million this year. Stew and Dungey are my top pics to sweep the motos, but guys like Canard, Barcia, Millsaps, Roczen and Anderson are going to make things tough. But racing be cray sometimes, so we’ll just have to wait and see.
Now, if Dungey or Stew don’t sweep all three motos, I think any number of guys could end up winning the overall. We saw last year that one mistake cost Trey Canard six figures, even after winning the first two motos. And when Barcia won the Cup in 2012, he only won one main event and finished second in the other two. Barcia, Roczen and Canard are in my book for possible winners behind Dungey or Stewart, while Jason Anderson and Davi Millsaps as my dark horse picks.
Second Question. What does the 2015 track layout have to offer? Is it going to provide a foundation for more epic battles? Hopefully. I mean the GOAT, Ricky Carmichael, did design it, and he has for the past few years without disappointment. I will admit it looks a little more mellow than it has in years past. I understand that the idea is to blend a bit of motocross with the Supercross, but this year the track looks pretty tame. No whoops, like usual, and not many rhythm sections. When tracks are like this they tend to produce close racing, as a lot of guys are capable of running a fast pace. It also makes the starts even more important and could make it difficult to pass and gain time when the laps aren’t too tricky. But that’s part of the game, and that’s why the Monster Million has proven so elusive since RV dominated the inaugural cup four years ago.
The Joker Lane looks more manageable this year in comparison to previous track designs as well. It’s not tucked away on the inside of a 4th-gear sweeper like in past years. Being a chicane that will live right on the start straight, hopefully it’s a little easier for the guys to get into. We’ve seen top riders like Dungey and Villopoto forget to take it while in the middle of a battle, but that too is also part of what makes the MEC so cool. I’m also curious to see how much extra time the Joker Lane is going to take this year. It looks like it could be a little shorter detour, which could change the racer’s strategy for each moto.
These are a couple of the things that I’ll be paying attention to on Saturday night, and I’m sure I won’t be disappointed. And with that, I end with a complaint regarding the TV airing of the race. Nobody has Fox Sports 2. Maybe Monster should take a page out of Red Bull’s book and set up some live on-line streaming for the those of us who really want to watch it live, but don’t have the necessary TV package. Just saying.