At the last round of the championship, the world's best riders celebrated the 4th of July at RedBud with yet another new face standing atop the podium at the end of the day.
JGRMX/Toyota/Yamaha's Josh Grant captured his first career 450 Class victory after an impressive 2-1 performance where he showcased his stellar speed to become the fifth different winner in the class in 2009. Monster Energy/Pro Circuit/Kawasaki's Jake Weimer made it two in a row in the 250 Class by relying on consistency when his rivals found misfortune, taking unlikely 2-4 results to the overall win.
Chad Reed is still in control of the premier class standings after a second overall at RedBud. His 21 point lead puts him in a comfortable position heading into the final six races, but with the way the season has gone, it is still anybody's race. At his last visit to Spring Creek in 2007, Reed brought home 10th overall and he will look to improve heavily on that result on Saturday. For teammate Michael Byrne, the season continues to be one of consistency. A pair of seventh place results solidified seventh overall for the Australian the last time out, but third last year in Millville gives Byrne the confidence he needs to make a return to the box for the first time in 2009.
"Millville is another track that is kind of like Red Bud for me in that I love it," exclaimed Reed. "It's one of my top-three favorite tracks that we race on. Having this last weekend off before Millville was great. I worked really hard on my stomach with the hope of being able to be strong and at my very best for the last half of the year. I'm really just working hard on my health so I can put my best foot forward and continue to gain points on second place overall so I can win this championship."
"Millville is a great track," said Byrne. "It's got a little bit of everything - elevation, sand and even clay. It's definitely a fun track and hopefully we'll get the ball rolling this weekend, get in a good ride and on the Rockstar Makita Suzuki RM-Z450 and get some championship points."
Grant has been on the cusp of taking that first victory on numerous occasions this season, but bad starts and bouts of misfortune forced him to wait until Michigan where he put together arguably one of the most impressive performances of his career. The premier class rookie was the fastest rider all weekend and came just a bike-length short of sweeping the day's motos. The win rejuvenated his season and has him back in the title fight, just two points out of the top three. His teammate Cody Cooper was also solid at RedBud, capping off a stellar weekend for the JGR team. The New Zealander was resilient en route to fifth overall and it is only a matter of time before he is fighting for his spot on the podium
Honda Red Bull Racing
The red riders continue to be the most consistent team in the 450 pits. Riders Andrew Short and Ivan Tedesco hold down second and third in the standings and are consistently fighting with Reed for their chance at the top. Tedesco has already broken through for his first career victory and if Short continues to ride at such a high level, it will only be a matter of time before he does the same. At the previous round, Tedesco out-dueled his teammate for the final spot on the podium, relegating Short to a strong fourth place finish. Short hopes his second overall in Millville last season translates into that elusive first win.
"I'm thoroughly enjoying myself this season and the good team dynamics have really helped shape my results," explained Tedesco.
"It was great to have a weekend off and just chill out," explained Short. "I spent a week at motocross church camp spending time with kids, helping and teaching them, using the skills and knowledge that I'm fortunate enough to have been blessed with. It's great motivation heading into Millville this weekend - I'm excited! I've been fairly successful there in the past and I expect to be faster this time around. The Spring Creek track itself is prepped really well and always has good dirt. It should be fun."
Monster Energy Kawasaki
For the green machines, super sub Ricky Dietrich continues to be the heart-warming story of the 2009 season. The Washington rider's worst finish through four races with the team is seventh, and he produced a solid sixth place effort at RedBud to move firmly into the top 10 in the standings. Veteran Timmy Ferry's recovery from a broken heel is still taking some time to get back to 100% and last season's championship runner-up has yet to return to top form so far. With a fifth place result to learn from last year, maybe Spring Creek is the site to turn everything around.
"I'm starting to get some confidence in my starts," said Dietrich. "That is what I worked on most these last two weeks and I know I can run up front if I can get a good jump out of the gate."
After a tough outing in Colorado, Justin Brayton returned to top-10 form at RedBud, bringing home 10th overall on the day. The rookie 450 competitor has experienced some ups and downs so far this season, but his high level of talent and stellar fitness should translate into positive results over the final six events.
Monster Energy/Pro Circuit/Kawasaki
Through the first four races of 2009, Jake Weimer didn't have too many high points regarding his results. However, all that changed at Thunder Valley when win number one finally happened after a long and trying wait. The momentum and confidence the Idaho rider received from his first victory has apparently revitalized his season and now with two wins in the bag, he can focus on a steady climb through the point standings where he currently sits seventh, quickly closing in on the top 5. Teammate Christophe Pourcel continues to ride smart, smooth, and methodical and despite the high-paced speed of the class, it is working to his advantage. The Frenchman sits atop the standings with a nine-point advantage and at RedBud continued his streak of winning at least one moto at every round this season. Each week Pourcel is seeing the tracks for the first time, but it has not appeared to hinder him.
"I'm going to keep my program going," explained Weimer. "I just want to stay relaxed because that is when I ride at my best. I've taken some time to work on my radio controlled car and things are going well. It should be a fun weekend."
"It was good to get some time off," added Pourcel. "It is going to be a tough second half of the season and I am ready for it. We have a good team and I know we will be ready for anything."
After a dominating first moto win at RedBud, the 4th of July looked to be Dungey's for the taking and his chance to re-assert himself atop the standings after Pourcel found early trouble. Moto two looked to have more of the same from the Minnesota rider but a spectacular crash effectively ended any shot at the overall win. Showcasing his admirable resiliency, Dungey brought home a damaged bike to fifth overall and salvaged points to stay right with Pourcel in the title fight. Last season, he took the win at his home track and there isn't a better place to get this season back on track for Dungey than Spring Creek.
"Coming into Millville this weekend, I'm just really pumped to be going into my home track race this year," explained Dungey. "It's a really enjoyable track, and we're just coming off a two-week break so it'll be new and fresh for me. Also, I'll have a lot of friends and family there, so that'll be pretty special. At the same time, I'll do my best to take it like any other race weekend."
GEICO Powersports Honda
Brett Metcalfe led the way for the GEICO riders in Michigan, putting in his best ride of the season to finish fourth overall in a four-way tie for the runner-up spot. The Australian rider appears to get better each and every week and is on the cusp of his first podium in 2009. If a third at Millville last season is any indication, it could be as early as Saturday. Rookie phenom Justin Barcia has scaled back his all-out mentality the past few rounds and it is paying off. After a pair of crashes and tough finishes, he has rebounded nicely and is a consistent podium threat each time the gate drops. While Blake Wharton did not run as strong as he would have hoped at RedBud, the young rider returns to the site of his pro debut in which he turned heads by leading a significant portion of the day. The Texas rider hopes to replicate that result and rebound from his tough outing. Making a one-race appearance for GEICO Honda will be hometown rider Alex Martin. The son of the Spring Creek track owners has more laps than anyone at the renowned facility and with the power of a factory bike beneath him, it could be a weekend to remember in Millville.
"My goal for Millville is to win a race," stated Barcia. "The icing on the cake would be to finish on the overall round podium, that would be great, but I'm hungry for a win right now."
"I really want to thank GEICO Powersports Honda for giving me this opportunity, and my other sponsors who were willing to help me out by letting me ride for the GEICO Powersports Honda team for this one-off race," said Martin. "It's something you never want to pass up, for sure."
Tommy Searle has been one of the hottest riders in the 250 Class over the past three rounds, posting third overall at each race. The British rider is adapting to the pace of American Motocross each and every week and came close to capturing his first moto victory in Michigan. The podium finish moved him into third in the standings and as his confidence grows each time out on the track, he will be one to keep an eye on at the front of the field. Teammates Martin Davalos and Wil Hahn both posted top-10 results at RedBud, with Davalos running up front early in the second moto. While Davalos works on getting back into race shape after considerable time off for injury, Hahn hopes to build on an impressive eighth place run at Millville last season.
Round 6 Series Statistical Report
With a total of seven first-time winners across both classes, this is the most parity the series has seen since 1999. Mike Alessi is the only repeat winner in the 450 Class in 2009. That is five different winners in six races.
With moto results of 2-1, Josh Grant became the first overall winner in the 450 Class to not sweep the day's motos.
Over the past nine seasons, there have been a total of five first-time winners in the 450 Class. Each overall winner in 2009 (5) raced to victory for the first time.
All three winners in the 250 Class have won two races apiece. Jake Weimer is the first to go back-to-back.
While his streak of winning the first moto at each round was broken, Christophe Pourcel remains the only rider in the series to win a moto at each event. He also remains the only rider in the series to finish on the overall podium at all six races.
450 Class Stats:
The first race held at Spring Creek was August 28, 1983. Bob Hannah would win on a Honda.
This will be the 19th time the gate will drop for a Lucas Oil AMA Pro Motocross race at Spring Creek. Ricky Carmichael, Jeff Emig, Ron Lechien and James Stewart have won at Spring Creek in both classes. Ricky Carmichael boasts an undefeated record at Spring Creek Motocross Park, winning every race (eight) and every moto (16) from 2000-2007.
Spring Creek will have a first-time winner at the track in 2009.
Hannah book-ended his career at Spring Creek, winning his first-ever race in the 250 Class on April 4, 1976 and winning his final race in the 450 Class on August 11, 1985.
A total of four riders have posted their final career victories at Spring Creek.
Spring Creek hosted the 500cc national from 1985-1993. Honda won all but one event.
Wins by brand at Spring Creek
Kawasaki - 7
Honda - 6
Suzuki - 4
Yamaha - 1
Last win by brand at Spring Creek
Kawasaki - 2008
Suzuki - 2007
Honda - 2004
Yamaha - 1994
The first 250 Class race was held at Spring Creek on August 28, 1983. Ron Lechien would win on a Yamaha.
This will be the 27th time the gate will drop at Spring Creek for the 250 Class.
Late local legend Donny Schmit gave Suzuki its first win at Spring Creek in 1987 and would go back-to-back with another win in 1988. New local legend Ryan Dungey is looking to achieve the same feat in 2009 after taking the overall in 2008.
No rider has achieved back-to-back wins at Spring Creek since 2003-2004.
Wins by brand at Spring Creek
Kawasaki - 11
Suzuki - 6
Honda - 5
Yamaha - 3
KTM - 1
Tickets are available are available at the box office, or online at www.springcreekmx.com. Wednesday through Saturday tickets: Adults - $63 ($60 cash), Kids (6-11) - $48 ($45 cash), 5 and under - Free; Saturday tickets: Adults - $38 ($35 cash), Kids (6-11) - $28 ($25 cash), 5 and under - Free
Fans can catch live video feed of the first motos in each of the three classes streaming on the internet at www.allisports.com beginning at 2 p.m. ET.