It's obvious now that three 250 Class riders are distancing themselves from the rest of the field. Monster Energy/Pro Circuit Kawasaki's Blake Baggett and the GEICO Honda duo of Justin Barcia and Eli Tomac have accumulated all seven overall wins and all fourteen moto victories between the three of them. On Saturday it was Tomac's turn to take an overall, his third so far, with the help of a solo crash by Baggett, the series points leader. At the moment of his crash, Baggett had just completed one of his signature drop-the-hammer moves, where he picks a point in the moto to drop his lap times by seconds, not fractions of seconds. It's Carmichael-esque, the way #12 simply finds another gear that no one else has and just pins it past everyone.
Take the first moto, for instance, and specifically the thirteenth lap. At that point Baggett was involved in a four-way tilt with Barcia and Tomac and Red Bull KTM's Ken Roczen, the next-fastest man in what's becoming a frustrated pack. Baggett had run 2:11 on the previous lap, but then dropped an astonishing FOUR full seconds off his pace, down to 2:07.631. The next-fastest man on the track was Tomac, who checked in at 2:12.047.
Baggett used a blistering pace late in moto one to capture the moto win.
Simon Cudby photo
Now I know this Sign of the Lap Times-type stuff, but standing out there on the infeld watching this happen, you didn’t need a stopwatch. It was visible with the naked eye that Blake Baggett was not only going much faster than everyone else on the track, he was going faster than Ryan Dungey just did when he ran away with the 450 moto win!
Here's the thing, my fellow bench racers: Dungey's best time in his first moto, which came before the 250s, came on the third lap. There was barely a break between 450s and 250s due to the TV schedule, which meant barely time to do any track work. Baggett dropped the hammer on his thirteenth lap, a full hour of traffic later. Track was rougher, weather was hotter, pace was crazy.
Ryan Dungey really doesn't have to push it right now, given the incredible riding he's doing and management of this series in the absence of James Stewart recently, and Ryan Villopoto and Chad Reed from the get-go. He can surely go faster when he has to.
But Baggett? He had to go faster at that moment, and he did. Much faster.