Rev Up: Hangtown

Rev Up: Hangtown

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Hello, everyone, and welcome to the Rev Up. So much for predictions…

I signed off on my preview piece last week mentioning the excitement of the unexpected, but that was about the only thing I forecasted that played out. Nobody, but NOBODY saw JGR/Toyota Yamaha’s Josh Grant leading every lap of the opening moto of the series. Meanwhile, in the 250 Class a man may have eluded to me last week via text message of what was coming. A Floridian by the name of Ricky Carmichael sent me a couple texts after reading my column and basically told me I was off on my prediction of Blake Baggett to dominate. He wouldn’t say who he thought was going to win, but after some thought he didn’t have to. RC had spent the last month training his eyes on both of the overall winners at Glen Helen and had a strong inclination of who would be handing out the butt kicking. Turns out Yamalube/Star Racing Yamaha’s Jeremy Martin was ready to chew railroad tracks and spit hollow points. After one round in the 2014 Lucas Oil Pro Motocross Championship the scoreboard reads: Carmichael Farm: 1 - Competition: 0.

Red Bull KTM’s Ryan Dungey stepped it up and showed the heart and tenacity that has earned him his previous national titles. Something has been missing with him for the past couple months, but the return to long motos, rough tracks and test of physical fitness placed him back on top. I was super impressed with his last lap charge to pass his younger uberhyped teammate Ken Roczen to capture the O/A. Both of those guys are going to be there every moto, every week.

However, that was just the season opener. Glen Helen is by far the most unique track on the circuit and kind of like how Anaheim 1 proves very little, we could see a different picture as the tour heads up the California Coast to the always popular Dirt Digger’s Hangtown Motocross Classic. Let’s get Revved Up NorCal style.

Blake Baggett looks to overcome a slow start at Glen Helen this weekend.  Photo: Simon Cudby
Blake Baggett looks to overcome a slow start at Glen Helen this weekend.  Photo: Simon Cudby

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After grinding the enamel off his teeth all winter long, Yamaha manager Jim Perry could finally take out the bite last Saturday and smile. The Yamaha guys have taken a beating the past few years, but they threw a haymaker with a redesign of their machines. The SX season went okay for them, but as the season concluded things looked to be on track. I suppose if you listened hard enough you could hear what was coming at Glen Helen. I think only RC knew what was going to happen. Was it a one shot wonder, or will Jeremy Martin and Cooper Webb roll on this weekend?

Transversely, it was one of the worst afternoons in Monster Energy/Pro Circuit Kawasaki’s team history. While Yamaha’s dream afternoon was playing out, Mitch Payton’s team effort was a nightmare of Freddy Krueger proportions. They missed the podium, lost a title contender, and cannot shake the rotten luck that has cloaked their awning in 2014. The speculation is rampant on what happened with Wilson—in my opinion it was rider error and fatigue that sent him over the bars. My pre-race pick, Blake Baggett, somewhat salvaged the day and I think he’ll be much better at Hangtown. Justin Hill is somewhat of a NorCal guy being a Pacific Northwest implant, and I think he’ll make the podium this time around.

We knew there would be mechanical problems and there certainly were last weekend. Rockstar Energy Racing KTM mounted Jason Anderson took a hit to the chin with that second moto DNF and will have to be consistent from here on out to get back in the title fight. I expect him to be very strong this Saturday and eventually be in this title hunt. The bad news is we have already lost Zach Osborne and Wilson. So much training and so much promise dashed in a single afternoon.

The Yamaha guys tore their heads off, but like I mentioned it was only the opener. About the only thing I feel confident laying money down on is that GEICO Honda’s Zach Bell will grab one of the two holeshot at Hangtown.

Can Justin Barcia enter the title picture this weekend at Hangtown? Photo: Simon Cudby
Can Justin Barcia enter the title picture this weekend at Hangtown? Photo: Simon Cudby

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Of course it was Ryan Dungey. The former champion has some of the most devoted fans of any rider, and they never gave up on their man. He won that O/A in his typical “Diesel” fashion and look for him to continue blowing black smoke out of his stacks all summer.

As for the surprises, Josh Grant proved again that possessing the ability to win motos will keep you on factory equipment for as long as you choose professional motocross as a career. Keep in mind that Grant began his career at Hangtown with a very similar holeshot and run away effort. If he stays healthy, which has been his Achilles heel, he can snag more moto wins and maybe an O/A. Another surprise to me was Yoshimura Suzuki’s James Stewart. His 6-6 effort didn’t cost him the title, but it may have set his confidence back a notch. If he wants to stop Dungey he has to get a moto win very soon, or he could slip back into that weird funk we saw last summer where the 6-6, 5-4 finishes became the norm.

While Dungey is the past and present of America motocross, young Ken Roczen is the future. He doesn’t need shades, he needs a welding helmet it is so bright. Anyone ready for a civil war between teammates sharing an awning? You better be. The factory Honda Muscle Milk duo of Trey Canard and Justin Barcia were there, but like in supercross, they still have some work to do before a win can enter the picture.

Speaking of painting a picture, it is going to be a magnificent scene at the Hangtown Motocross classic this weekend! There is always a huge turnout of core fans. The weather is going to be warm enough for bikini tops, but hot enough for guys to be falling off the bikes. It’s going to be a sensational afternoon for our favorite sport and this time we get BOTH motos live on TV.

Last weekend, a pair of Minnesota born racers used a torture facility in Florida to conquer Southern California. How much, if anything, will change this time around? Ladies and gentlemen, this is why we run the races. Time for round two.

Thanks for reading, see you next week.

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