10 Things to Watch: Budds Creek

10 Things To Watch: Budds Creek

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By Aaron Hansel and Chase Stallo

The Learner

If there was any doubt about Fredrik Noren’s ability to quickly adapt to the Team Honda Muscle Milk CRF450, they were put to rest last Saturday at RedBud, where the ultra-privateer-turned-factory-rider went out and secured a career best eleventh overall with very little time on the bike. He’s been in California this week testing with the team, which means he’ll have better understanding of the subject material at Budds. Will it translate into a top ten? – Aaron Hansel

The Rapper

This has easily been Justin Bogle’s best season of Lucas Oil Pro Motocross, and that first National win is starting to feel highly overdue. The GEICO Honda rider is improving every weekend, and even led three laps in the second moto at RedBud. Had he not gone down, who knows what could have happened. Fortunately, he’s got another shot at it this weekend. – Hansel

The Rager

Watching his old rival Ken Roczen tear up the Nationals this year couldn’t have felt great for the injured Eli Tomac, but now it seems like he’s funneling any built up frustration and/or energy into his program. After coming off the couch he’s posted remarkable 3-3-4-2 finishes in the first four motos of his 450 career, even stealing a spot from Ryan Dungey last week in the second moto. If he keeps coming on strong like this we might see some more classic Tomac/Roczen battles in the second half of 2014. – Hansel

The Producer

The California rounds weren’t great for BTOSports KTM’s Andrew Short, but he’s really been making up for it lately, especially at RedBud where he went 5-5 to secure his second fifth overall of the season. No matter what, Short just keeps on quietly producing great results and regularly beating other big names in the process. Will the storyline continue, or perhaps even improve at Budds Creek? –Hansel

Can Short improve on his best finish of the year at Budds Creek? Photo: Simon Cudby
Can Short improve on his best finish of the year at Budds Creek? Photo: Simon Cudby

The Impersonator

With twelve motos down, Ken Roczen’s worst finish of the year has been third, and that’s only happened once. Otherwise he’s been first or second in every moto. Who does this guy think he is—Ryan Dungey? At this point the question is no longer whether or not Roczen will be able to keep winning—it’s obvious that he can. The question now is: how long can this perfect podium streak last? –Hansel

Backing It Up

Days before the Muddy Creek National, Monster Energy Kawasaki rider Brett Metcalfe’s back stiffened up. Metty made the last minute call to race and gutted out a seventh overall. The injury limited Metcalfe all last week as well. “Last week was rough. Then, I didn’t ride this week, and then it affected me a little bit in the first moto…” he told Steve Matthes following RedBud. (He finished eighth overall). Back injuries can be tricky, with rest typically the best medicine. But Metty will continue to soldier on. Will he be back in form this weekend? – Chase Stallo

Down in a Hole

Blake Baggett has been in this position before. Following a second moto DNF at Hangtown, Baggett was more than 50 points back from Jeremy Martin. He proceeded to rip off four moto wins of six, and climbed to within 17. Baggett had a chance to get even closer in moto one at RedBud, but couldn’t make anything stick. “It’s frustrating,” said Baggett in a team release. “First moto I just couldn’t find a spot to pass but knew I could get him in the second moto.” He never got a chance in moto two. A bad start, combined with late moto crashes, lead to a seventh. Now 28 points back, Baggett will try and get rolling again at Budds Creek. He’s had success here in the past; will it continue this weekend? - Stallo

Cooper Webb looks to cut into Jeremy Martin's points lead this weekend.  Photo: Simon Cudby
Cooper Webb looks to cut into Jeremy Martin's points lead this weekend.  Photo: Simon Cudby

Needed

Jeremy Martin needed a win. The bleeding had to stop. A 26-point lead following Thunder Valley had been trimmed to just eight before RedBud, with Blake Baggett and Cooper Webb coming in hot. Oh, how the pendulum swings. A 1-2 performance from Martin, combined with a 14-1 from Webb, has pushed the points to twenty-three in favor of J-Mart. Webb has responded in difficult situations (Moto two at High Point and RedBud) before, and needs a quick response again. Will it happen this weekend? - Stallo

Orange on the Move

For all the success KTM is enjoying in the 450 Class, things have progressed a bit slower in the 250s. Marvin Musquin wasn’t 100 percent fit coming off a second ACL surgery to his knee (he compounded matters by injuring his shoulder at Glen Helen), and the Rockstar Energy Racing KTM duo of Jason Anderson and Joey Savatgy were fighting injuries of their own. RedBud may have been a turning point, though. Musquin and Anderson both locked up podium spots (first one of the year for Marvin), and Savatgy grabbed the holeshot and led for a bit in moto two. Can the 250 boys mirror their 450 counterparts this weekend? – Stallo

Texas Heat

Through four rounds, it was easy to lose sight of just how good SmarTop/MotoConcepts Kyle Cunnigham can be outdoors—you don’t have podiums on your resume by chance. With zero top tens through four rounds, Cunningham had to dig out of a big hole. And he slowly is. Two top tens over the last four motos have pulled Cunningham within 25 of Jessy Nelson for tenth in points. Will the upward swing continue this weekend? - Stallo 

Kyle Cunningham has been strong. Will it continue? Photo: Simon Cudby
Kyle Cunningham has been strong. Will it continue? Photo: Simon Cudby

Bonus!

The Track

This will be the twenty-fifth annual Budds Creek National, and the track has garnered a great rep for its all-around combination of terrain. When you consider the track has good dirt, good elevation, good jumps, good viewing, and a good crowd, it's almost like the track takes parts of every other National and mixes them together.

Despite the well-rounded attributes, though, some riders seem to thrive here more than others. James Stewart and Ryan Villopoto have had some of their best days ever on this course, but RV is out and Stewart's had a rough few weeks on track, not to mention off of it. Who will be the next to claim Budds as their best track? – Jason Weigandt

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