From the moment the gates dropped in practice all the way till the final rider crossed the finish line in Vegas, the competition in the 250X East Division and the Tomac/Dungey battle was so intense that you could not take your eyes off the track for a split second otherwise you would miss race changing moments as one of the most dramatic race days in Supercross closed out the 2017 season.
Through practice, Tomac would pace behind Dungey studying and watching every line Dungey would use through the course to put that into the Tomac memory bank. Often times Dungey would slow down and let Tomac pass in practice but eventually Tomac would be back behind Dungey and the game of cat and mouse would continue through qualifiers.
Knowing that the potential for rough racing could be had, Dungey and Tomac were split up in the first 450X Class heat so that the risk of them racing against each other until the main finals would be eliminated.
On the line was the season title. Dungey looking for his forth career title and third straight and Tomac looking to seal up a season with nine wins on the season tied with the most won in a season. After a crash in East Rutherford while riding with the Red Plate, Tomac found himself nine points down needing to win and have Dungey finish forth or worse.
As the gates dropped in the main event, Dungey and Tomac raced to the front and battled back and forth each taking the lead back from the other for the first fourteen minutes of the twenty minutes plus two laps race. As the final stages of the race began, Tomac would slow and use lap traffic to bait Dungey into closing the gap and increasing the chance that a crash would happen around slower and less experienced riders. It was a smart technique and it almost cost both riders and they collided with each other causing Tomac to bobble and Dungey to have to ride off the track and find a safe re-entry point.
It was at this moment that hard charging Jason Anderson who has bumped and raced his way through Chad Reed and Josh Grant shot through the middle and rode his way to his first win of the 2017 season. Tomac finished second with Dungey in forth, claiming the season title, the first time he had to claim the title in the final race in Vegas.
“That was a season of never give up,” said Dungey. “It was tough from the get go, but we did it. I didn’t expect it to be like that. I expected it to be a clean race, but those cheap shots were unbelievable. But, we survived it and we got through it. It’s immensely gratifying. We didn’t win the most races this season, but the points are what matter at the end. We fought hard, tooth and nail. This was these most challenging and the hardest season of my entire career. It’s just nice to be here and sit on top.”
Dungey is the fifth rider in Monster Energy Supercross history to win three consecutive 450SX Class titles. He also becomes just the fourth rider in the history of the sport to win at least four championships, joining Ricky Carmichael, Jeremy McGrath, and Ryan Villopoto. His three wins are the lowest for a champion since Jeff Stanton won the same amount in 1992. Alternatively, Tomac’s nine wins are the most for a rider that failed to win a title since Damon Bradshaw won the same amount, also during the 1992 season. Dungey and Tomac finished the season separated by just five points. It’s the smallest gap between first and second since 2011 when Ryan Villopoto won the title by four points over Chad Reed.
In the 250X Class, the West Division had been wrapped up in Salt Lake by Justin Hill, so the drama around the race centered squarely on the East Division with three riders separated by one point. Jordon Smith, points leader coming into the race, found himself in front and led several laps of the race until he crashed beginning the drama of the race.
With Smith down and out, the season championship came down to two riders, Joey Savatgy and Zach Osborne. Osborne was collected in a opening lap crash that left him in last place, so once the Smith crash happened it seemed inevitable that Savatgy would come away with the title.
“Never Give Up” became the motto of Osborne as he battled his way all the way up to running side by side with Savatgy. As they approached the final set of whoops on the last lap, Osborne committed to making a pass attempt on Savatgy for seventh and did just that, diving to the inside of an unsuspecting Savatgy and drawing heavy contact that ripped Savatgy off the back of his Kawasaki after it briefly hooked onto Osborne’s Husqvarna. Osborne continued, leaving Savatgy to pick up his bike, and ultimately clinched a title that didn’t seem possible after the opening lap.
“I can’t believe I came from that far back,” said Osborne. “I was down in the first turn. Not just down, but down for a long time. It’s just unreal. I can’t believe I made that pass. I could see him [Savatgy], but he was so far away in my mind. To come back and pass him with one corner to go is unreal. I’ve worked my whole life to be here. There’s just so many people that have shaped and molded my career to get me to this point, and I just cant thank them and my team enough.”
Osborne became the 53rd different 250SX Class Champion in Monster Energy Supercross history, and gave the Husqvarna brand its first ever title in the division.
With all of the focus on this trio of riders, Adam Cianciarulo, who actually won the race with Justin Hill and Aaron Plessinger in third became an absolute after thought. Cianciarulo dominated the race and posted a wire-to-wire effort to capture his second victory of the season, likely unaware of the bedlam ensuing behind him. He crossed the line 5.7 seconds ahead of Hill ultimately coming up just 2 points short of winning the season title that looked impossible to attain when the day began. Had Osborne or Savatgy finished one more place back than their final places, Cianciarulo would have claimed the title.