By Jason Weigandt and Chase Stallo
It was a hot, muggy afternoon in Southern Maryland. Temperatures hovered around the upper 80s, with humidity playing a much bigger factor. Following the race, riders said they were able to deal with it, but they noticed the difference between the much cooler first six rounds.
Just when it looked like Ryan Dungey was a beaten man--Ken Roczen had been slightly better all year but then really pulled away last weekend at RedBud--he bounced back. Roczen passed him in moto one but Dungey closed up late and pressed him to the end, and then the Dunge holeshot moto two and left everyone behind. Dungey pointed to major bike changes between last week, and this as the reason: "I'd been making little changes, just clickers here and there, then back at home we decided to make some big changes," he explained. It worked. Dungey now has three-straight wins at the track but he doesn't believe there's anything special for him there. It's just worked out in his favor.
Roczen on the other end wasn't dominant like he was at RedBud, and admitted on the podium that he just wasn't feeling it in the second moto. Despite seeing an end to his two-moto overall win streak, he was quick to carry the same attitude forward. He's still happy, still excited, still having fun and still can't wait to get to the next race. "I've always been that way," he explained after the race. "Try not to take it too serious, and just have fun racing."
So does this mean Dungey gained a step, or did he just have a good track for his style, or Roczen maybe had an off day? Next week could serve as a real test, since it's Dungey's home track in Minnesota. A win there for Roczen could prove huge, but Dungey could end up leaving there with legitimate momentum for the second half.
Blake Baggett went El Chupacrabra on the field in moto two. He was too far back in moto one to make it happen--he was a close third--but in moto two he got to second and went off after leader Jeremy Martin and hunted him down. He pulled away from the field immediately. “Yeah, it’s nice outside. Nice and sweaty," he said of the weather. "I don’t mind the heat, and I think it makes for good racing.” Baggett, like Dungey, has also won three straight here but doesn’t think this track is anything special for him.
Martin, then, like Roczen, wasn't down on the solid second for the day. "Compared to supercross and not qualifying for races, this is great," he said in the post-race press conference with a smile. Martin said he watched tapes from last year's race and knew Baggett would be good here. Now he's got the home race coming up in Minnesota. It'll be pivotal for both of the Minny riders in the championship hunt.
We finally have a new moto winner! Jason Anderson was agressive all day at Budds, leading in practice times all morning in both sessions until Christophe Pourcel pulled his usual trick and snagged the Oakley Bomb fast time on the very last lap. Anderson gated well in moto one--first time in awhile--battled past Justin Bogle and took off. Unfortunately he said the heat and humidty got to him, and Martin and Baggett closed in hard late. Anderson held on for the win but didn't have the same energy for moto two, and finished sixth. Still good enough for a podium. "I had never led an outdoor lap in my life, and that was a good feeling," he said. "Those other two closed in on me at the end so I was definitely stressing out a little bit. I got into lappers and maybe I paniced a little bit. When the two lap card came out I knew I could wing it and hold it pinned and hopefully hang on."
How improbable was Eli Tomac’s podium at Budds Creek? He almost didn’t ride due to a nagging back injury. “Honsetly, at the start of the day I didn’t even know if I was going to race,” he said in a team statement. “To turn it into a podium is awesome.” Tomac has been nothing short of spectacular since his return, and has many wondering how long it will take to get his first 450 win. At Budds, starts were not his friend (Eli has gated pretty well so far outdoors on a 450 until today) but he showed real speed coming through.
A week after being a scratch for the second moto at RedBud—following a crash in moto one—Soaring Eagle RCH Suzuki’s Weston Peick was in form at Budds Creek. Peick was finally nailing down his starts and used the good fortune to power to a fifth overall. Peick’s fifth in the second moto gave him four on the year—a career high.
Honda Muscle Milk’s Fredrik Noren was more comfortable following his first week of testing with the team. After a tenth in moto one, Noren was running as high as eighth in moto two before crashing back to outside the top twenty. He was able to gain a couple spots late in the moto to finish sixteenth to give him twelfth overall on the day.
Budds Creek marked Christian Craig’s second race since coming out of retirement. Craig is expected to race two more with Millville up next. He finished fourteenth on the day.
JGR/Toyota Yamaha’s Justin Brayton has quickly reinserted himself into the series. In just his third race back, Brayton grabbed the holeshot in moto one, but took a rock to the hand when Ken Roczen passed and struggled to 14th. Brayton said after the race he thought the hand my be broken, but confirmed everything checked out between motos, but it was difficult to hold on in moto two.
Phil Nicoletti returned from a week's absence to finish ninth overall. Nicoletti told us after the race he will take the next few weeks off—he was only scheduled to race three outdoor races—and his final race would be Unadilla. When asked if he would do the JGR fill-in program again next season if asked, he stated he would.
Another forgettable weekend for James Stewart. A bad start in moto one saw him fight through for fifth, getting in sight of a Canard/Tomac duel for third at the end. He was battling with the Honda duo again in moto two before crashing and bending up his bike. He pulled into the mechanic's area and didn't return to the track.
We honestly don't know what to say about Chad Reed's day except it was terrible--he failed to score points in either moto. We'll try to learn more this week.
Solid day for JGR's Josh Grant, who has been darned consistent all summer. He overcame a crash in moto one for ninth, then got a good start in moto two and took home sixth, good enough for sixth overall.
GEICO Honda’s Justin Bogle is just waiting for everything to click. For the second week he lead—he finished sixth overall on the day—and told us after the race he feels he has the speed, he is just waiting for it all to come together.
Jeremy Martin and Cooper Webb will deservedly garner most of the attention, but Yamalube/Star Racing Yamaha may have another weapon in their arsenal. In his third race back from a concussion suffered at Glen Helen, Anthony Rodriguez finished ninth overall, giving Star three riders inside the top ten overall.
As for Webb, he wasn't on the same level as he was at RedBud and Muddy Creek, where he won motos. Fifth overall with a 5-4 isn't bad but he admitted he just "Wasn't feeling the flow" to the TV cameras at the end of the day. Baggett did slide past him for second in points.
Red Bull KTM’s Marvin Musquin started a chain reaction in the second moto when he wasn’t able to make the tight hairpin first turn--it looked like he might have gotten hit by Kyle Peters, which set of a series of unfortunate events. Musquin collected Joey Savatgy, Cole Seely, and Peters, among others, in the crash. Musquin would charge back to finish the moto fourteenth.