Here's where a Supercross competitor struggling against Ryan Dungey's demoralizing strength and consistency can find a glimmer of hope: Saturday night in Arlington, Texas, Ken Roczen beat Dungey in a straight-up duel to win the 450 main event.
Now here's the reality, which is a lot less encouraging for Roczen and the others chasing last year's champ: It's going to take a lot more of those wins — a lot more — to make a difference.
That's because of Dungey's demoralizing consistency. Dungey has finished first or second in every Monster Energy Supercross 450 main event dating back to the third round of 2015.
That's why the math is so depressing for Dungey's competitors. The difference between first and second is just three points. After seven rounds, Roczen is 23 points behind Dungey, trailing 166 to 143, and Jason Anderson, the only other winner so far in 2016, is another 12 points behind Roczen. So if Dungey keeps finishing second, Roczen has to reel off eight straight wins from here just to take a one-point lead.
It's no easier to find chinks in Dungey's armor by looking at the outdoor motocross season in between last year's and this year's Supercross domination, either. He wrapped up that title early and finished the season with a demoralizing 100-point advantage over Roczen.
So is there any hope for the rest of the field as we approach the mid-way point of the 2016 Supercross season? Well, maybe just a glimmer, for Roczen. His confidence at the Texas round was obvious leading up to the main. He got the holeshot when the gate dropped, but Dungey was able to pass him. At that point, most of the people in AT&T Stadium probably thought the race was over. But Roczen was able to retake the lead and hold off Dungey's best effort at a late-race charge. That should only build Roczen's confidence.
There's less for the others to hold on to. Anderson finished third, but nearly 20 seconds behind the front two. The other riders who had promise have not yet been a factor. Kawasaki's Eli Tomac, adjusting to a new team and recovering from a shoulder injury, has not yet been able to recover the impressive speed that allowed him to start the 2015 outdoor motocross season with a five-moto win streak. Honda's Cole Seely has not yet challenged for a win this year.
Realistically, Roczen and the others must hope Dungey's incredible run of top-two finishes comes to an end, though watching how smooth he looks on his KTM 450SX-F, and considering how rarely he crashes or misses races due to injury, that seems like a weak hope.
That leaves one other scenario, if you're Roczen. If you're already behind in points and your opponent never finishes worse than second, then the only way to win the championship is to win every single race. Consistently outdo the king of consistency.
Good luck with that, Ken.