Lucas Oil Pro Motocross Championship Notes:
FMF High Point National, presented by United Bank
MORGANTOWN, W.Va. – Following three rounds of 2012 Lucas Oil Pro Motocross Championship, sanctioned by AMA Pro Racing, competition, a total of five different riders have stood atop the podium across the 450 and 250 Classes. This weekend, the championship hosts its first East Coast race of the season with the annual visit to Southern Pennsylvania and the FMF High Point National, presented by United Bank, from Mt. Morris’ High Point Raceway.
Last weekend in Colorado, Red Bull KTM’s Ryan Dungey ended the undefeated start to the season by Team Yoshimura Suzuki’s James Stewart, giving KTM its first win in the premier division and taking over the points lead in the process. In the 250 Class, GEICO Honda’s Justin Barcia became the third different winner in as many races, ending a 27-race winless streak.
Red Bull KTM
Dungey posted a perfect day at Thunder Valley, amassing a 1-1 moto sweep to take his third consecutive victory at the track and break through into the win column for the first time in the 2012 season. Dungey is the only rider in the 450 Class to finish on the podium in every moto, giving him a pair of runner-up finishes and a win to start the summer. With a much-needed win under his belt, Dungey will carry the red number plate into High Point in search of his second career victory at the facility.
Monster Energy Kawasaki
Jake Weimer has shown he has the speed to run up front throughout the early part of the championship. However, Weimer’s results have not reflected his speed due to some misfortune he’s experienced in one moto at each of the first two rounds. Last weekend, Weimer broke the trend to amass a strong, consistent day and complete his best performance since moving into the 450 Class, posting a career-best second-place finish at Thunder Valley on the heels of 2-4 moto scores. The runner-up effort vaulted Weimer to second in the championship.
“It felt great landing my first 450 Class podium at Thunder Valley,” said Weimer. “It was pretty tough out there. After it rained between motos I thought the track was going to be worse, but the rain actually improved the track conditions. Overall, I’m happy with my result. I made progress moving into second in the points and that’s the name of the game. I really like the track at High Point. I’ve done well there in the past so I’m looking forward to this weekend.”
Team Yoshimura Suzuki
Misfortune in the early stages of the first moto from Colorado ended Stewart’s day early at Thunder Valley. The two-time winner this season, who began the championship with an undefeated 4-0 start coming into Colorado, recorded a DNF in Moto 1 and did not compete in Moto 2, ultimately resulting in a fall from first to third in the championship standings. However, this week Stewart has put in extensive effort to determine the severity of an apparent hand injury and hopes to return to action on Saturday to potentially reclaim the top spot. According to his official Twitter feed (@js7), things are looking positive.
“I’m just going to train this week and see how my wrist feels,” said Stewart after the race at Thunder Valley. “But, I want to make sure we’re 100 percent for Mt. Morris.”
Brett Metcalfe has experienced an up-and-down start to his 2012 season, but at Thunder Valley, he amassed arguably his best outing of the young season. Metcalfe ran to a solid third-place result in the opening moto and despite not getting the start he was looking for in Moto 2, still battled to finish 10th, giving him a season-best finish of fifth overall. Metcalfe is looking to build on the momentum and become a consistent presence on the podium.
“I felt good coming in to Lakewood,” said Metcalfe. “In the second moto, I had to really charge through, but I was able to do that. Overall, I’m happy with my riding and the results. Now we go to High Point, which is a good track for me and I’m looking forward to racing there. My riding is at a great level now, so I need to focus on getting up front and staying in attack mode.”
While he missed out on the overall podium for the first time this season in Colorado, Mike Alessi still had a strong outing at Thunder Valley, in the mix of a tightly-contested battle for the top five. Alessi’s 4-9 moto scores landed him sixth overall, but more importantly, helped him stay third in the championship standings where he currently sits in a tie with Stewart coming into High Point.
Team Chaparral Honda
Colorado native Andrew Short is always excited for the chance to race in front of his hometown crowd and at Thunder Valley he proved it. Short relied on an impressive effort in the second moto to parlay his 7-2 moto results to a season-best third overall. Additionally, he gave his L&Mc Racing team its first ever podium effort in Lucas Oil Motocross while also moving to fifth in the 450 Class standings. Short hopes to keep the ball rolling on Saturday.
Jeff Ward Racing Kawasaki
Josh Grant experienced a tough day in Colorado after coming into the race with a top-five overall effort the week prior. Grant found himself mired in the field throughout the day and ultimately posted 8-19 moto scores to finish 14th overall. Despite the tough outing, Grant still holds a spot inside the top 10 in the 450 Class standings, currently occupying seventh.
While his teammate didn’t fare as well at Thunder Valley, Kyle Chisholm got his season going in the right direction thanks to a 10th-place finish. The veteran rider’s 10-11 moto scores landed him with the final spot inside the top 10, which he also occupies in the championship standings.
Nico Izzi continues to impress in his first full season of 450 Class competition. At Thunder Valley, Izzi was one of the most consistent riders in the class, posting back-to-back fifth-place moto finishes to finish just off the podium in fourth overall.
“Thunder Valley was a great day for me,” said Izzi. “It couldn’t have been any better. My goal was to complete two solid motos for a good overall, and that’s what I did. Now we go to High Point and I love that track. I grew up racing there, so it’ll be nice to go there and run with the top dogs.”
Monster Energy/Pro Circuit/Kawasaki
The start of Broc Tickle’s rookie season in the 450 Class was going very well through the first two rounds. However, Tickle was hit with misfortune in the first moto at Colorado, resulting in 11th overall (35-3). While he rebounded well in Moto 2, the tough luck wasn’t what Tickle was hoping for. Despite that, he still has possession of ninth in the championship standings coming into High Point.
“I was pretty happy with my second-moto result at Thunder Valley,” said Tickle. “I really feel that my hard work is finally beginning to pay off. I’m going to keep the setup on my KX450F the same going into High Point. It’s dialed in perfectly right now. I’m really looking forward to the next few races because High Point, Budds Creek and Red Bud are my favorite tracks. I especially like High Point because it has a lot of ruts and off-camber down hills. Also, it might rain and I like the rain so I’m really looking forward to this weekend.”
Team Honda Muscle Milk
Justin Brayton battled hard in Colorado to break through for his first top-10 finish of the 2012 season last weekend. The veteran rider took advantage of the opportunity to mix it up at the front of the field, ultimately relying on 9-6 moto scores to finish seventh overall. While he still sits outside the top 10 in the championship standings, Brayton is hoping to keep climbing.
Monster Energy/Pro Circuit/Kawasaki
While he may have only one overall win to his credit, Blake Baggett has been the most consistent rider in the 250 Class, which is why he has maintained possession of the red number plate since earning it at Hangtown. At Thunder Valley, Baggett nearly won his second race of the season, but came up just a couple points short of the overall despite winning the second moto. Nevertheless, Baggett brings the points lead into High Point, looking for back-to-back wins at the facility.
“You really have to fight your hardest every moto of this series because you never know what is going to happen and every point matters,” said Baggett. “I’m happy to leave Thunder Valley with the red plate, it’s really important to hang onto that thing to keep a mental advantage over everyone else. The key to winning the championship is being on the podium every moto. I’m looking forward to next weekend because High Point is one of my favorite tracks. I really like all of the elevation changes and the ruts; I think the track flows really well. My primary goals at High Point are to keep my visor pointed forward and to get back on the podium.”
After being a familiar face inside the top 10 through the first two rounds, Ivan Tedesco experienced a tough day at Colorado. The former 250 Class champion overcame some misfortune to post 14-8 moto scores and finish 11th overall, but fell to 10th in the standings. He’ll be looking to bounce back this weekend.
“It was a tough out at Thunder Valley,” said Tedesco. “I ended up twisting my knee a little in the first moto so I was struggling to finish because it was bugging me. During the break between motos, I had ‘Doc G’ work his magic on my knee to reduce the swelling and once he was done I was feeling ready to go for the second moto. I got a great start in the second moto, but the rest of the race I just didn’t feel like I had the speed I needed. I’m looking forward to the race this weekend at High Point. There is always a chance of rain at Mt. Morris, but even if it doesn’t rain that track is still really good.”
It’s been over two full seasons, but Justin Barcia finally made his anticipated return to the top of the podium at Thunder Valley. After winning the first moto, Barcia had to dig deep in Moto 2 to reclaim the overall win from Baggett in the late stages. Ultimately, his 1-2 moto results were enough to emerge victorious and move Barcia to second in the championship standings. He’ll aim to keep the ball rolling at High Point.
Eli Tomac was arguably the hottest rider in the class coming into his home race from Colorado. While he had high hopes for the hometown crowd, he wasn’t able to overcome his rivals, still posting a solid 4-3 moto effort to finish fourth overall.
Wil Hahn continued his solid top-10 efforts in Colorado, cementing himself as a consistent presence in the class. Hahn’s 10-7 moto scores landed him seventh overall, which is also the same position he occupies in the 250 Class standings.
Red Bull KTM
After three races, Ken Roczen has still yet to finish off the overall podium, joining Baggett and Dungey as the only riders in the series with this distinction. At Thunder Valley, Roczen looked as though he was ready to contend for a win, but ultimately fell short of that goal with a fall late in the second moto. Despite the misfortune, Roczen rebounded strong to post 2-4 moto scores and grab the final spot on the overall podium for the third straight round. Roczen currently sits third in the championship and will once again look to break through at High Point, a new track for him.
Marvin Musquin is beginning to make his presence felt in the 250 Class. The French rider’s 5-5 moto results helped land him fifth overall at Thunder Valley, for one of his best efforts of the young season. Musquin currently occupies fifth in the championship as well and like his teammate, will visit High Point for the first time.
Rockstar Energy Racing Suzuki
Following a strong outing at his home race in Texas, Blake Wharton was solid again in Colorado, finishing seventh overall thanks to 6-9 moto scores. Wharton appears to be more familiar with his Suzuki machine with each passing round and will look to be a podium contender this weekend.
“The track was very technical at Thunder Valley,” said Wharton. “Add in the weather, and it made for some wild conditions. I was happy with the first moto, but I didn’t ride the way I should’ve in the second. I know I can be way further up there, but I guess you have these weekends where you learn. But, I’m already looking forward to next weekend. I like High Point. It’s a neat track and it suits me.”
Kyle Cunningham quietly posted another top-10 performance in Colorado, grabbing ninth overall after finishing 9th and 10th in the motos. The veteran rider is making gains each week and hopes to be battling inside the top five before long, despite nursing a lingering injury.
“We had two good motos in Lakewood,” said Cunningham. “I’ll continue to work on getting my ankle better during the week, and then push through it on the weekends. I’m looking forward to High Point. I’ve had some good motos there and it’s another weekend to improve.”
Jake Canada has arguably been the surprise of the 250 Class to start the season. Despite going head-to-head against his factory-backed rivals, Canada refuses to let up and has become a regular presence inside the top 10 throughout the early part of the season. At Thunder Valley, Canada used 7-14 moto scores to finish 10th overall, and the effort helped him move to ninth in the championship.
Rockstar Energy Racing Suzuki’s Jessica Patterson became the first repeat winner of the Women’s Motocross Championship last weekend, putting forth an impressive 1-1 effort to extend her lead in the point standings. Patterson currently holds a 16-point lead over her rival Ashley Fiolek, who rides for Team Honda Muscle Milk, and will bring the red number plate into High Point. In the WMX Class’ one and only visit to the facility back in 2009, Fiolek took the win and she will look for more of the same on Saturday.
Television coverage for Saturday’s FMF High Point National begins with live coverage of the opening motos for both the 450 and 250 Classes on FUEL TV, as well as online at AlliSports.com, beginning at 1 p.m. Eastern. Live second moto coverage of both classes can also be seen on NBC Sports Network, beginning at 5 p.m. Eastern.
Tickets for all 12 rounds of the 2012 Lucas Oil Pro Motocross Championship can be found at www.allisports.com.
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