2018's Outdoor National Pro Motocross season marks a particularly competitive field in the 250 Class ranks.

We take a look at the top contenders and their likely finishing order:

  • Zach Osborne didn’t just win the 2017 National Outdoor title; he dominated it, winning by 81 points over second place and frequently gapping the field by wide margins. While this past Supercross title (Osborne beat out Jordan Smith by a mere eight points) was not the runaway affair than last year’s outdoor title was, it is hard to bet against Osborne going into the summer series. He has won three straight titles and shows no sign of slowing. He’s at the top of his game. However, 2018 doesn't appear to be as easy as 2017. His challengers are faster this year and better-positioned to push him for the title. In the end, when the dust clears, it will be no surprise to see Osborne defend his title, and many believe the outcome is already a done deal, but this is racing, and anything can happen.
  • Jeremy Martin knows something about dominating outdoor performances. When he was winning the outdoor crowns in 2014 and 2015, he looked as unbeatable as Osborne. His 2014 title was by a 79 point margin, nearly identical to Osborne’s margin in 2017. For his 2015 title, he beat out one of the top contenders in today’s premier 450 Class [VIDEO], edging out Marvin Musquin by 12 points, but a gapping third-place finisher, Joey Savatgy, by 143 points. Therefore, 2018 has set the scene for a monster showdown between Martin and Osborne that looks to be one of the most competitive seasons ever in the 250 Class [VIDEO]. Martin comes into Hangtown with strong momentum. Consistency and health will be a huge key here, but if both stay healthy and avoid major mistakes, it will likely be a photo finish between the two. Osborne has the slight edge, but this could go either way and will be exciting to watch.
  • Aaron Plessinger is a driver. He pushes hard through the pack and when he’s charging, looks as fast as anyone else on the track. The trouble for Plessinger is that charging through the pack is often based on necessity due to slow starts off the gate. If he starts near the front, he has the speed to win it all, but if he starts mid-pack while Osborne and Martin run at the front, Plessinger will be hard-pressed to chase those two down facing 20 to 30-second deficits on the first lap. This makes a start essential for Plessinger. If he can get off the blocks and be in the top five or even top ten in the first turn, he gives himself a very real chance of upsetting this entire series and taking the title.
  • Joey Savatgy is hard to gauge. The devastating loss to Osborne by a block pass on the last lap of the 2017 Supercross title seemed to take a lot of wind out of his sails. Having been close so many seasons only to fall just short of the ultimate prize was a debilitating blow that put his determination through the wringer. He remains one of the top riders in the field. He is fast and has the experience to compete at the top. He took the loss to Osborne unbelievably well, but it seemed to trigger resignation rather than light a fire of determination to beat Osborne. Savatgy needs to put that behind him. Based on experience and speed alone, Savatgy will be a consistent top-five finisher this year; however, if he can turn disappointment into the fuel that sparks a new fire, he has the ability to propel himself into the top position among this year's field.
  • Alex Martin is another tough call simply because we haven’t seen him on a bike in a while. He was really gaining speed the last two seasons and was even challenging Osborne some races before an injury finished his season last year. If he came back at full speed and refreshed, however, then the upward curve, he was showing the past two seasons bodes well for him to make a solid run in 2018. If healthy, he should finish at least fifth, but potentially, he could be higher.

Runner Up – Austin Forkner looked poised to be the breakout star of the 2018 Supercross Season, but he made too many critical mistakes at critical times.

When he was keeping his bike up-right however, he was matching speeds with Osborne. He is a small margin of experience and consistency away from being as fast as any rider in this class. Can he put twenty-four Motos together in a row? Doubtful, and that’s why he doesn't crack the top five, but the potential is there, and once he hits it, a championship is easily within his reach.

How to watch

Moto1 is from 2:00-4:00 PM ET. It is available streaming online via NBC Sports Gold Pass, or you can catch it on MAVTV with your local cable/satellite provider. Moto2 can also be streamed via NBC’s service, or catch it on NBCSN 8:30-10:30 PM ET through your television provider. Televised times may change, so be sure to double check the schedule the day of the race.