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Observations: Budds Creek

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The Lucas Oil AMA Pro Motocross Championship rolled on to the home stretch and this week we were in Budds Creek, Maryland. There were plenty of questions going in such as, could Chad Reed continue his roll and stretch his monstrous points lead even more? Would Ryan Dungey rebound from the spanking at the ‘Dilla and pull back even in the 250 class? Would Kevin Windham avenge his 250 beat-down but now on the more appropriate 450? How high is Kyle Regal’s ceiling?

  • Budds Creek looked like it should have been a canoe race by the end of the day.
Budds always holds a special place in my (and many others’) hearts. Who can forget Tim Ferry going out and laying the beat-down on the entire field in the first moto of the 2003 race? What about Ferry going 1-7 in the 125’s in 1995? Me selling Ferry’s parade lap goggles for a buck to a fan so that I could buy a sno-cone from the vendor that was set-up right by the start? Ferry being in 6th in the points in 1999 and going 24-26 in the mud to drop to 15th afterwards? What? You don’t remember these moments? Screw you.

Budds always runs in different directions and this year it was the same as the 2007 MXDN. I don’t think I went last year so I can’t say if it was different or not. I myself prefer to watch it in the counter-clockwise direction it went this year as it just seems right to jump down Henry Hill for some reason. The track prep is always really sweet at Budds (except for the 2007 national), and Jonathon Beasley does a great job with tilling it and dumping sawdust on it. I really don’t like the start however, it’s so unfair that it’s ridiculous and reminds me a lot of Europe starts. A perfect example is this year there was one pretty muddy qualifier run and that’s it, your results on the day were pretty much pre-determined from your qualifier time. Angle those gates!

It’s creepy for me to be at Budds a bit because when I look at the score tower I always think about how that was the exact spot in 2001 where I first heard that the World Trade Center buildings had been hit by planes. Kelly Smith and I were out there practicing after a round of the East Coast Four-Stroke Championships when (bad) history was made.

  • Chad Reed has the number one place in hand and has no pressure on his back for the next for motos.
Going into the race, there was a remote chance that Chad Reed could clinch his first ever outdoor title. In speaking to Thor’s Victor Sheldon before the race, I learned that the rider second place in the points, Andrew Short, had to go 5-5 if Reedy swept the motos.  This seemed tough to do but it happened as Shorty had a bad day, going 7-10 to Reed’s 2-1. This made Chad Reed the winner on the day and, more importantly, the champion in the 450 class. Yes, that’s right - Chad Reed is your 2009 450 outdoor champion and those words were something that I never thought I’d type. He has really grabbed a hold of this championship in the last little while and became the dominant rider in this series. One by one, the challengers (RV, Alessi, Grant, Tedesco and Short) fell by the wayside from injury or just plain having some bad races. The machine that is Chad Reed just kept producing results and no heat, tracks, night races or weather stopped him. On his worst day, he was in the hunt for a podium. Consistency, thy name is Chad Reed.

It’s helped that lately he’s been the fastest guy also.

Allow me to pontificate on Reedy some more. The stomach virus he has been complaining about is very real, his wish-washy feelings on jumping into the series was also real. He wasn’t sure if he wanted to ride and I applaud him for coming out. I also honestly thought he’d get up to speed and start winning sooner than he did, but no matter, when you make sixteen podiums out of twenty races - that’s proof enough that you’re the best racer out there. He went through a lot to make it out and deserves major respect for this title. He also seemed to be enjoying himself a lot just hanging out and racing the outdoors, and as someone that was around him when he complained non-stop about the nationals, it was nice to see the change.

  • Jake played nice in moto 1 by not cleaning out his teammate Christophe Pourcel. Probably best for team relations.
Last week at Unadilla, Christophe Pourcel, took advantage of the European style of the track to dominate and go 1-1. I wasn’t there but everyone I talked to said that even if Ryan Dungey had gotten the start (he didn’t) he would have had nothing for the Frenchman. There are few riders better than Pourcel at being technically sound and able to control the throttle. I thought that the track at Budds would also suit him and his style as there are off-cambers to navigate as well as slippery inside lines.

The first moto he patiently rode behind his teammate, Jake Weimer, with Dungey just a little behind him. It was a freight train that allowed the three of them to pull a pretty big lead on everyone else. The moment came on the uphill triple that CP was the only rider to consistently clear (and stay to the inside/middle upon landing) and he leaped over Weimer and railed the outside to grab the lead and the moto win.

I thought Weimer, if it was anyone other than his teammate and points leader, could’ve really jammed it back in there on the little downhill but kudos to him for seeing the big picture. In the second moto, the rains came down hard. Like, I saw Noah building an ark hard. It was truly anyone’s race, but isn’t it funny that in the treacherous, gnarly conditions, the cream rises to the top and the same guys that have been up front all summer were up front again? Weimer, Metcalfe, Pourcel and Dungey all filled the top four spots. Weimer got the win and good for him, with many people questioning his pick on the MXDN team, this should shut them up a bit. Jake is a good kid and for a guy that’s gone on the record as hating the mud so much, he seems to do well in it.

Yeah, I know Ryan Dungey is super fast, I know he’s gnarly and works hard, but to me, and a couple of people I spoke to, he looked tired in that first moto. He got close a couple of times but he couldn’t make the move on the top two guys. He HAD to make it work and he couldn’t do it. It’s that simple, I don’t want to come off as Negative Nancy here but I was bummed that he couldn’t find that extra gear to make a move. He lost a bunch of seconds in the closing laps and looked to be late on his acceleration and coasting into the corners to me. That’s a sign of being tired.

There’s four motos left and he’s thirteen points down. Time to make it happen, RD didn’t seem very upset at the press conference as he made a point about how inconsistent each of them have been but it’s not good when your main competition has beaten you five motos in a row. No matter what, this thing is going to go down to Steel City and will be a great race!

  • Usually when Chad Reed is breathing down your neck this hard, you're in a battle that you're not going to win.
Davi Millsaps won the first moto, and I say good for him. The man-child (can you believe he’s only 21?) got the start and jetted out to a massive lead. Something like 20 seconds, but then he got tired or backed down his pace way, way too much. This allowed Reed to catch up and maybe Davi wasn’t tired because he picked it up almost three seconds on the very last lap when Reedy was all over him. So what was the deal? I don’t know any more with him and have given up trying to figure him out.

When Reed was reeling him in, I looked at a Honda guy and he just slowly shook his head and looked down. He and I figured it was only a matter of time before he blew the moto, but, again to his credit, Davi picked it up and won with the 22 right on him.

With the rain coming down in sheets, the 250 class had the worst possible thing happen to them when they received a red flag because of a starting malfunction. This really sucked for the guys as their gloves and goggles were already done in and now they had to go back and do it again. The reason for the malfunction? Yeah, the Monster Girl couldn’t figure out the procedure. Apparently, watching a guy and moving when he says was too much. Just like I said in supercross when they had their “Monster Girl Malfunction,” if you have to ditch the girls to do it correctly, feel free. Let’s get it right 100% of the time, okay? There’s a lot of money on the line here.

REGAL, REGAL, REGAL!! This kid from Texas is just moving up the charts like he was The Beatles or something. I started watching him at High Point upon receiving advice from Answer guy, Roger Larsen, and I have to say, Larsen called it. He’s been on fire and at Mt. Morris I wrote this about him:

“I’m supposed to keep my eye on Kyle Regal because people like him. I’d say a twelfth in the second moto and being the first real privateer is a pretty good showing for the kiddie. I’ll keep watching and maybe jump on that bandwagon.”

  • Regal's finishing position is dropping rapidly every week. At this rate he'll be into the negative numbers in no time.
And then I wrote about him at Redbud where he ran tenth in the 450’s until he ran out of gas. At Millville he was the fastest guy on the track for three laps late in the moto, he picked up a Valli Yamaha ride and kept the roll going at The ‘Dilla and now, this weekend, he was amazing. The guy went 4-4 and tied for third overall. Uh, I’m on the bandwagon now!

In more replacement rider news, Kawasaki picked up Aussie Jake Moss to fill in for an injured Ricky Dietrich, who filled in for Ryan Villopoto. Moss has had some good showings this year in his limited appearances but can’t seem to put two motos together. Oh well, that’s the easy thing to figure out, speed is not. And that’s what Jake has a lot of. Speed.

He is still recovering from a knock to the head he got at Washougal so his seat time was limited, no doubt about it. When he qualified second and ran third it was what I kind of thought he could do. When he got really tired and looped his bike out, I wasn’t that surprised either. He just hasn’t been riding. He’ll get better though and I’m telling you, watch out for him in supercross next year.

His mechanic, Mike Williamson, has worked for seven, yes, seven different riders this year. Ryan Villopoto, Tim Ferry (at one SX), Billy Laninovich, Branden Jessemen, Ricky Dietrich, Gareth Swanepoel and now Moss. That’s got to be some kind of record! He was touting himself for mechanic of the year but can you really politic for yourself? Even if it’s for an imaginary award?

A  Loretta’s kid named Blake Baggett showed up and was pretty impressive. Although like Regal you probably won’t hear about him much. He qualified third but that’s not that amazing because the track was real slimy and slippery. Still, impressive. First moto he was on the inside and got tangled up in a crash and was literally, the thirty-ninth guy to get going – and it was a distant thirty-ninth at that! What does he do after that? He hauls ass all the way to twelfth place! On a track that’s not easy to pass on either. I dunno, I was impressed with him.

  • Metcalfe was so close to that elusive win!
My buddy Tim Ferry continued his Favre-like comeback (oh wait, he’s not like him at all actually because he’s cool) with a solid ride. Here was Red Dog’s problem-on a slippery crappy track he qualified twenty-eighth. That’s not real good and forced him to be way on the outside for a gate pick. With Budds having the unfair start that it does, his day was going to be like Michael Douglas’s in “Falling Down.” He came from thirtieth in the first and twenty-second in the second to go 9-8 on the day, but his fitness looked good and his speed is decent. Some of the guys he was catching had been racing all year and looked spent, so that’s a good thing if you’re him.

If he gets the start and with him, that’s a HUGE if, I really think he can be on the box at Southwick. He really goes good there and loves the sand. Like I said, IF he gets the start.

I liked the old-school AXO gear that Regal and teammate Jimmy Albertson were wearing. If there’s one company that can really stick to their roots, it’s AXO.

I’m kind of a coffee nut, and when I woke up Saturday morning, I was a bit late in getting to the track and didn’t have time to scope out the Starbucks in Solomon, MD. That was when a little light bulb went off in my head and I remembered that McDonalds is now carrying high-end coffees. So I stopped in and ordered one up and I have to say, not bad at all. Good job Ronald.

I read with interest the age debate on Vitalmx.com and was going to chime in but figured I’d keep it for here. Hey jackasses, when you say that MX Sports is going to gain from this new rule, have you realized that they run only ONE amateur race in the country? Have you realized that entries are capped at Loretta Lynn’s and therefore there is no extra money going into the coffers? Unlike the other big amateur races where four laps are given and six thousand riders are accepted. The ones who really don’t have a stake in this is MX Sports, move along.

  • How many mechanics does it take to change a light bulb? Why does Ryan Dungey's bike need a new light bulb?
While I’m at it, hey Mr. Cianciarulo? Let’s worry about your kid hitting puberty and not knocking a girl up or maybe even getting hurt before you go off on your kid’s pro career. Marv Marinovich promoted his son when he was still in a crib and that didn’t turn out exactly as planned, did it?

I made a note to talk about Jason Lawrence this week but then I started thinking that maybe I shouldn’t say anything because he didn’t do anything. His scores of 23-31 were certainly not indicative of his talent but I was going to give him credit for not quitting and riding it out. Now I hear he went off track and rode a few lanes of the supercross track next to the main track and I can’t even make a joke out of that. I don’t know what to think, really!

Ferry called me on Monday and asked me if I saw J-Law do his thing. I said no, but that DC had kind of seen it and it did happen. All he had to say was “How do you even think about something like that? That guy’s awesome!”

The second 250 moto was called early because there was lightning in the area and I, for one, think this was a great idea. Even if there hadn’t been lightning, the track was getting impassable and the water was in danger of sweeping a lightweight like Justin Barcia off his bike and we might have had to fish him out of the Potomac.

  • Josh Grant's ankles were so sore that he rode like this the whole time.
Kevin Windham was there. I think. Not sure if KW will ever race a motorcycle again, he’s probably so shell-shocked from his last three races. I bet he didn’t even know there were that many guys IN the race at Budds. He didn’t line up for the second moto and I tried to find out why, but no luck. See you at A1 KW!

Just so you guys know it's not just the riders who are training to be in the best shape. Kawasaki's PR guy, Monster Tom, has been training all summer for a marathon he is planning to run in October. Normally I wouldn't bore you with stuff like this, as my Observations column is a hard hitting journalistic enterprise. That being said, he helps me get food from the Kawasaki truck and since he's eating less that means more for me so I figured why not help him out. He is running the marathon as a member of the Injured Marine Semper Fi Fund charity team helping to raise money for that great cause. If you want to help out and donate you can click here: http://www.active.com/donate/teamsemperfi09/TMcG

Tommy Hahn is praying for a one-moto format next year as he can’t seem to finish both races in a good position lately. Out of the last six motos, he’s gotten three seconds and then a 12th, DNF and a 15th. Oh well, I’m sure he (and his team) are looking at those seconds and are happy with that.

Jeff Alessi ran up front in both motos before slowly going to the back. I’m been saying this for a couple of years, Jeff has some serious talent but doesn’t work at it like he needs to. His brother admitted as much to me in a podcast.

Can I get my money back on all that hype that I bought on Christian Craig? He doesn’t look ready to me.

That’s it from Budds! Thanks for reading and remember, keep the rubber side down and keep reaching for the stars. Email me at matthes@racerxonline.com and we can chat. Thanks to RXI for letting do this and thanks to Pro Taper, MSR and Answer for sponsoring this thing.

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