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Yeah, Millville! Round eight of the Lucas Oil Pro Motocross Championship was held at the legendary Millville track, where, since 1983, the best riders in America (and the world) have shown up to try and tame the sand whoops and the hills. Maybe it was the Martin brothers or the continued excellence by Ryan Dungey, but whatever it was, it seemed that the fans were out in force more than ever this year. Donny Schmit would’ve been proud.
You hear that sound of thundering hooves off in the distance? That’s the sound of Millville coming up the backstretch, getting ready to barrel by RedBud to claim the title of “Best Track on Circuit.” I’m serious. Millville added in a ginormous hill dubbed “Mount Martin” that I think puts it over the top in terms of best track among the twelve in the series. RedBud is great; it has iconic obstacles and nice dirt. I’m not slamming that place at all. It’s funny to me that RedBud has in recent years gone out and copied Millville with the addition of a section of sand whoops, and Millville went out and added a big uphill triple ala LaRocco’s Leap a few years back. This is like Skywalker versus Vader: two tracks dueling back and forth, taking the best of each other to try and make the ultimate place to ride a dirt bike.
Think about it, though: Millville’s got it all. A long fast start straight that tests a motor, two sections of crazy-deep sand whoops that test a bike’s suspension and a rider’s body, three hills (one of which, the new one, is huge), great dirt, and pretty good viewing from any spot. Add in the nice creek running nearby, great facilities and pits, and a top-notch funnel cake stand (very critical). I’ve been on #teamredbud for many, many years, but now I’m ready to stamp it. Millville is the best race in the series. Say that a few more times; it makes more sense when you really think about it.
Well, that didn’t take long, did it? When Eli Tomac walked out of Millville on Saturday night, it was with the satisfaction of knowing that on this particular day, he was the baddest man on a motorcycle in the whole world. Tomac hunted down Ken Roczen (he of the 26-point lead in the 450 Class) in the first moto and left him behind. Second moto, once he took the lead from Justin Brayton at the end of lap one, he checked out. At one point Ryan Dungey caught him, but afterwards Tomac told me he told himself to “get my act together” and he pulled back out on the two-time 450 national champion for an easy win.
Tomac broke his collarbone before the first national and waited until he was 100 percent before coming back. This meant missing the first four rounds of the series, which took him out of title contention. When Eli came back for round five of the nationals, his 450SX/MX record was nine races entered and twelve races missed. Not a great stat line for a rookie in the premier class, but Tomac has experience with long, steady climbs to the top. Yes, he won the first pro national he ever lined up for—something that’s never been done before—but his final landing spot through four years in the 250 series were 6-4-3-1. His first 450 season hasn’t gone perfectly, but he’s learning, and this past weekend in Millville might have been his graduation.
Somehow Tomac is already inside the top ten in 450 points despite missing the first eight motos of the year. He’s gone 3-3-4-2-4-3-1-1 in the eight motos he raced and this just in: he’s going to be a thorn in the sides of the Red Bull KTM duo of Dungey and Roczen the rest of the year. Tomac’s been better and faster sooner than I thought he would be.
There’s a danger in overreacting each and every week due to the weekend’s results. A big picture outlook is beneficial most times. But there’s no doubt there are a few chink in Roczen’s armor compared to just two weeks ago when he worked everyone at RedBud. In two out of the last four motos, he dropped off the leader’s pace and looked a little ordinary. We’ve documented Roczen’s second half performances in a previous series on this site. I’m not saying we need to freak out, but let’s raise one eyebrow and watch the German from here on out.
If you were to inject Roczen with truth serum after the day was done, I believe that after he passed Dungey in the first moto, there is NO way he thought he was going to lose the race. I figure it was game-over. After all he just passed the KOM (King of Millville)! But then he got caught and passed by the #3, and in the second moto he scored his worst finish of the year (gasp! A fourth!), as Dungey and Trey Canard got him.
Going into the race, I thought Dungey was going to win. Then after practice I thought Roczen was going to win. Kenny looked so smooth and fast out there. There was a man-made inside hump coming out of the sand and in practice Roczen was hitting the very last whoop and somehow jumping over this sand whoop—which was purposely made to slow people down! It was incredible, risky, and very, very fast. He had to know that he wouldn’t able to do this jump once the races started and the whoops changed. But like Jeremy McGrath on this very track in 1996 when he attempted an impossible double, Roczen was on a roll and confident. When you’re feeling that way, you just do these sorts of things.
Oh yeah, guess who else was using this line in practice. James Stewart; that’s who. Just another example of the Stewart’s pure, raw talent and speed.
We all figured that Jeremy Martin was going to win the 250 Class at Millville. He’s the points leader, has won some races this year, and grew up riding at the track. Last year was his rookie year in the series and he was a fifth-tenth place rider until he got to Millville and scored a podium. It was going to take a gigantic effort by another rider (most of us figured Blake Baggett would be the best candidate) to dethrone the #19 blue express train, and although Martin won the overall as expected, his teammate and BFF Cooper Webb did manage to put in the effort needed to topple Martin for the second moto win.
First, though, Martin. Man, what a feeling that must be to win outright on your family’s track in front of your friends and supporters. First moto, he took the lead from Christophe Pourcel and it was “see ya’ later.” Martin told us on the PulpMX Show this past Monday that it’s not so much the obstacles on the track that gives him an advantage; it’s the fact that he knows where the bumps are going to form before they even start to form. He said on the parade lap he’s not even really looking for them; he’s just got so much time on the track that he knows where to go in practice, in moto one, and then in moto two.
But then Hurricane Jeremy ran into Tsunami Webb in the second moto. Webb was amaze-balls in the second moto as he passed Martin and six other riders to take off for the win. Martin caught Webb a bit at the end but he had this thing under control basically from the third lap on. And Cooper was on the move in the first moto until he fell and finished ninth, and with Martin winning, he lost 13 points in the championship. Second moto he got 3 of those points back. I actually screenshotted the lap times after lap eight. Take a look at how fast Webb was going. And, yes, that’s him at the very top. Ridiculous, right?
Let’s take a look at the results shall we?
1. 19 Jeremy Martin; Millville, MN; Yamaha YZ250F; 1-2 - Jeremy and Alex Martin were on the PulpMX show, and it was pretty funny to hear them take some jabs at each other. It’s also weird that Alex knows so much about Geo Metro.
2. 25 Marvin Musquin; France; KTM 250 SX-F; 2-4 - Great ride for the Frenchman. In the first moto his charge to second was awesome. Second moto he admitted that he was a bit winded after all that work, but second overall is his best finish this season. After the race he indicated that not getting picked for the French MXON team was a bit baffling. You can read it HERE.
3. 37 Cooper Webb; Newport, NC; Yamaha YZ250F; 9-1 - Webb’s getting more and more confident on the mic each week. He’s not at Travis Preston-level, but he’s getting there.
4. 377 Christophe Pourcel; France; Yamaha YZ250F; 3-6 – Pourcel got the holeshot both motos and collected yet another Oakley Bomb for having the fastest practice time. The only thing he’s not collected is a moto win. Will it happen before the year is out?
5. 15 Dean Wilson; Scotland; Kawasaki KX250F; 5-5 - An epic battle with Marvin Musquin in the first moto made me think of a joke that started with “So a Frenchman and a Scot walk into a bar…” But, regardless of bad humor, Wilson had his best race since coming back from injury. He looks to be a bit short of fitness right now, but I think he’ll get it back before the series is over. Oh, and by the way, Wilson broke up with trainer Ryan Hughes, who he started working with earlier this year. He now becomes the 9,734rd rider to hire and fire a trainer within a calendar year.
6. 17 Jason Anderson; Rio Rancho, NM; KTM 250 SX-F; 11-3 - In the first moto, Anderson went down on the start straight and seriously people, he was forty-five seconds back of the pack by the time he got going, AND he had no front brake, as the lever broke in a crash. Somehow, amazingly, he finished eleventh. What a ride. Screw the third in the second moto; the first moto was seriously impressive.
7. 43 Joseph Savatgy; Thomasville, GA; KTM 250 SX-F; 8-9 - A reader gave me some double chocolate chip cookies, and after I got them, I saw Savatgy washing his boots after practice. I offered him some, and even though I know he desperately wanted one, he refused. Probably a good idea because I’m not sure he would’ve gotten this solid score with a belly full of cookies.
8. 55 Alex Martin; Millville, MN; Yamaha YZ250F; 12-7 - Yeah, Troll! Although Martin is overshadowed a bit by his faster, younger brother, he also had a nice day at his home track. In the first moto, he didn’t move forward after a first-lap bobble as much as I thought he would’ve, but the second moto was strong. And yep, he was standing around in his underwear chatting in the pits well after the moto was over.
9. 21 Cole Seely; Newbury Park, CA; Honda CRF250R; 7-13 - Seely had a nice first moto, coming from the back to seventh. Second moto he was top-ten again when he fell over. Nothing wrong with Cole Slaw’s day at Millville.
10. 50 Jessy Nelson; Paso Robles, CA; Honda CRF250R; 14-8 - Nelson had three poopy motos in a row, but he’s redeemed himself the last couple of nationals. After the race I was in the Troy Lee Designs lounge when Nelson wanted to talk to me about San Diego SX and his run-in with Jason Anderson. It had been so long that I forgot what I had said or written about it, but I humored him anyways.
11. 71 Zachary Bell; Cairo, GA; Honda CRF250R; 10-12 - A good start in the first moto for Bell didn’t equal a good result. In the second moto, he was fourteenth after lap one and scored a twelfth. Is GEICO Honda really going to have Bell, Bogle, Bisceglia, Osborne, and amateur grads RJ Hampshire and Jordon Smith under their 250 tent after Loretta Lynn’s? Attention mechanics: go apply at GEICO; seems like they’re going to need some people.
12. 267 Anthony Rodriguez; Venezuela; Yamaha YZ250F; 13-10 - Hey, a tenth isn’t too shabby. That’s four out of ten motos that A-Rod has scored tenth or better. And just think: Yamalube/Star Racing Yamaha will have Aaron Plessinger on the team after Loretta Lynn’s. Most people seem to think he’s a top-ten talent. We’ve all been saying it for years; someone’s got to stop this powerhouse squad…
13. 4 Blake Baggett; Grand Terrace, CA; Kawasaki KX250F; 4-33 - Well, I think we can sound the death bell for Baggett’s title hopes after a second moto DNF. And guess what? He got a poor start in moto one, which didn’t help either. Death, taxes, and Baggett being the fastest rider late in a moto are things that are guaranteed. What’s not guaranteed is Blake getting into the lead and falling. But that’s what he did in the second moto. Then his bike broke. After the DNF at Hangtown, he’s been on the razor’s edge of not being able to make a mistake all year and it bit him.
14. 96 Matthew Bisceglia; Tualatin, OR; Honda CRF250R; 16-11
15. 32 Justin Bogle; Cushing, OK; Honda CRF250R; 6-32 - Bogle crashed out of moto two while he was in fifth, so he had a nice day going until that.
16. 410 Jace Owen; Mattoon, IL; Honda CRF250R; 18-14
17. 87 Shane McElrath; Canton, NC; Honda CRF250R; 17-15 - This was McElrath’s first race back since the first round, so nothing wrong with this ride. Remember, McElrath only raced a few nationals at the end of last year and then the first one this year. He’s still pretty raw.
18. 78 Matthew Lemoine; Baton Rouge, LA; Kawasaki KX250F; 15-31 - Matt, if you hear a “Field of Dreams” voice whispering in the distance, I hope it’s saying “Move to 450s, the results will come…”
19. 421 Vann Martin; Houston, TX; Honda CRF250R; 24-16 - I think this sixteenth by Martin might be his career-best finish in a national. And why wouldn’t someone named Martin have a good day at Millville?
20. 83 Dakota Tedder; Surfside, CA; Kawasaki KX250F; 38-17
1. 3 Eli Tomac; Cortez, CO; Honda CRF450R; 1-1 - Tomac looks so awesome out there; he’s even making Alpinestars gear look good. Seriously, it used to be the nicest stuff around, but I think the designers have now started dropping acid on a daily basis.
2. 5 Ryan Dungey; Waconia, MN; KTM 450 SX-F FE; 3-2 - Nice charge by Dungey in the second moto, but it was surprising to me to see him tip over once again in the first moto. There seems to be more smaller tip-overs for Dungey this year then usual.
3. 94 Ken Roczen; Germany; KTM 450 SX-F FE; 2-4 - I haven’t written it yet, but be on the look out for my “Why is Roczen leaving Red Bull KTM for RCH Soaring Eagle Suzuki?” column once that news officially drops. I simply don’t get it.
4. 41 Trey Canard; Edmond, OK; Honda CRF450R; 4-3 - A nice day for Canard, who almost won this race last year. He’s got to be encouraged by catching and passing Roczen in the second moto. Fly Racing has their 2015 stuff out, and the line and color of gear Trey was wearing for practice made it look like he was wearing sweats.
5. 33 Josh Grant; Riverside, CA; Yamaha YZ450F; 5-5
6. 24 Brett Metcalfe; Australia; Kawasaki KX450F; 6-6 - Davi Millsaps is pretty much signed by Kawasaki for 2015, and it’s looking more and more like Ryan Villopoto is going to hang it up. You’d think Brett would have the inside line to the second spot on Team Green, right? There’s no way you can go with a guy that’s not raced in a year and a half and is as injury-prone as Millsaps and not have a reliable and steady guy like … say Brett Metcalfe?
7. 29 Andrew Short; Colorado Springs, CO; KTM 450 SX-F FE; 9-7 - Decent day for Short, who, every time I see him, asks me in terms of pit gossip, “What have you got for me?” I usually have nothing. but I think I’m going to make some stuff up next time the 29 asks.
8. 40 Weston Peick; Wildomar, CA; Suzuki RMZ450; 8-8 - Tenth to eighth in the first moto and running fifth in the second moto until a small crash set him back. His battle with Short in the first moto was pretty good—just a couple of dudes racing to the bitter end.
9. 80 Fredrik Noren; Sweden; Honda CRF450R; 11-10 - Noren’s first consistent day on the factory Honda. He wasn’t perfect, but if you had asked Honda what they would want results-wise from Fast Freddie, I’d imagine they would be pumped on what he’s giving them.
10. 44 Matthew Goerke; Sun City, CA; KTM 450 SX-F FE; 12-11 - Looks like Goerke is out at BTOSports KTM next year, and I hear that he could be eyeing a return to Canada for their nationals in 2015.
11. 10 Justin Brayton; Fort Dodge, IA; Yamaha YZ450F; 10-15 - Brayton passed Tomac on the first lap of the first moto, and he made a comment that Brayton was “scary” out there. The race didn’t go well for Brayton, as he tipped over later, but he also almost led a lap in what is his home national.
12. 54 Christian Craig; Plymouth, MN; Honda CRF450R; 19-9 - Look at this! Working a full-time job and off the couch, Craig’s been great on an almost stock 450 in his return to racing (well, it was almost stock until he struggled to get LaRocco’s Leap at RedBud and asked for some motor stuff. Suspension is still pretty standard, though). It’s comical to watch him because he’s so talented and smooth; he looks like he’s just cruising around when he’s really going quite fast. In the second moto, he was fighting with Peick, and the comparison between their riding styles is like watching a Kenyan runner and myself.
13. 62 Mitchell Oldenburg; Alvord, TX; Honda CRF450R; 16-12 - Oldenburg moved up to 450s for this race, but being from Minnesota, I can’t tell you whether this good result is from home track familiarity or because he’s just that much better on a 450. Check with me in a couple of weeks.
14. 48 Ben LaMay; Wasilla, AK; Yamaha YZ450F; 15-13 - Just your typical Ben LaMay weekend. Bad start, work your way up, get near the top ten, and run out of time. Annnnnd repeat.
15. 22 Chad Reed; Australia; Kawasaki KX450F; 14-14 - Another race where you’re watching Reed out there and wondering just who is on the bike. Maybe it’s Osterman? It’s just weird, man, and I know we don’t know everything behind the scenes on what’s going on, but this, like the next guy below Reed in the results, is not doing anyone any good.
16. 7 James Stewart Jr.; Haines City, FL; Suzuki RMZ450; 7-40 - This is really going sideways right now. I’m not sure heading to Washougal would be a good move for Stewie and his team. His moto scores since the provisional suspension by the FIM for failing a doping test are 5-11-DNF-12-7-DNF. Not sure if he fell on the first start of the second moto, or just got dizzy and decided to call it a day. I can’t imagine the pressure Stewart and his team are feeling right now.
17. 39 Ryan Sipes; Flaherty, KY; KTM 450 SX-F; 13-34 - Sipes is on Davi Millsaps’ bike. When the deal started, because Sipes had a different gear deal than the team, he couldn’t be under the tent. But this weekend his bike was under the tent. Like Bigfoot, Davi Millsaps sightings are rare at the races these days.
18. 977 Paul Coates; Cairo, GA; Yamaha YZ450F; 23-16 - Coates is from England, and has now scored points in two of his first four motos this year. That’s about all I got.
19. 224 Heath Harrison; Pensacola, FL; Kawasaki KX450F; 25-17
20. 606 Ronnie Stewart; Easton, PA; Suzuki RMZ450; 17- We do this thing on Pulpmx.com where we run a poll of privateers on the site and the winner gets all the money that a listener/reader donates for a jersey from a rider of their choice. Then Pulpmx matches it. Stewart won our latest poll, but there was a twist to it—the 1990 125 East SX champion Denny Stephenson donated three of his race-worn jerseys for eBay auctions for three winners of our polls. So, at Millville I presented $500.00 to the Candyman courtesy of D Bo.
Some more news and notes:
- Here’s why riders are nuts and can’t always be believed. After the first practice I spoke to Ben LaMay, and he said the track was very wet and it was hard to get a good lap time. Right before I spoke to Ben, I talked to Jimmy Albertson (who had a bad day at Millville) and he said that the track was really dry! Or maybe LaMay said dry and Albertson said wet … either way this is what I’m up against every weekend, people!
- I’ve seen a lot of misspellings on mechanics’ pit boards in my time, but I think I saw the ultimate one this weekend, when an unnamed wrench put “100% Hart” on his board for his rider. Really? We can’t spell “heart”? Or was this about Carey Hart? How can the rider take this message seriously?
- With the live TV schedule and no intermission, it means that once I settle in for moto one someone out on the track, that’s it—I’m there for the next three hours or whatever. So I try to arm myself with the proper water and snacks to help make it through the day, but this weekend I forgot. Not to worry, though; I asked my friends Jeremy Albrecht of JGR, Kyle Bentley of RCH and Tyler Keefe of TLD to bring me some water and granola bars when they were coming back to the managers tower to watch moto two. Why ask three people for the same thing? Because I just knew that one or two would forget. Surely not all three would forget and leave me with nothing, right? Uh, yeah. That’s EXACTLY what happened. And even though I didn’t even ask her, CycleTrader.com/Rock River Yamaha team manager Christina Denney came through with water and a tasty granola bar. Goes to show you the compassion that women have for people who are desperately in need. And thanks for nothing to Albrecht, Bentley, and Keefer. Jerks.
- They restarted the second 450 moto when Andrew Short’s gate busted. This was the proper thing to do. A few managers made note that Trey Canard’s start hook didn’t dis-engaging on the first lap, and he had to get help on the first lap somewhere in the sand whoops. This help would qualify as outside assistance, and he would have been disqualified. I didn’t see it, but this is what I was told. The point was moot, as the race was red flagged but had it been run—things could have gotten interesting.
- In the last few laps of the opening 250 moto, Kyle Cunningham went down with Jason Anderson and was working his way through the pack. He came up on Zack Williams in twentieth place, and eventually Cunningham got by. There were only a couple of laps left, but I guarantee both riders knew that this was the final points-paying spot. I was glued to these two dudes fighting like it was for first with a lap to go and only one point on the line. I’m sure both riders were exhausted, and in the end, who cares about who gets twentieth in moto one at Millville 2014. But you couldn’t tell these two that. It was fierce, man! This is why I love motocross. Because of battles like this!
- Reed switched to Pirelli tires, and in talking to him after practice, he said it was a good move for him in terms of working with Discount Tire, his title sponsor. They sell a lot of Pirelli-branded tires and down the road he mentioned that there could be some co-branding opportunities for he and his team. Chad mentioned that Pirelli’s front tires have come a long way and he’s very confident in their capabilities.
Here are some stats through eight rounds courtesy of MX Sports:
Oakley Bomb Awards (for fastest qualifying lap)
Ken Roczen 3
Ryan Dungey 1
Trey Canard 1
James Stewart 1
Eli Tomac 1
Christophe Pourcel 7 (!!)
Jeremy Martin 1
Ryan Dungey 5
Chad Reed 2
Ken Roczen 2
Josh Grant 2
Eli Tomac 2
Justin Brayton 1
Trey Canard 1
Jake Weimer 1
Christophe Pourcel 5
Jeremy Martin 4
Zach Bell 2
Justin Bogle 2
Matt Bisceglia 1
Jessy Nelson 1
Joey Savatgy 1
RC Hard Charger Award (Passes made in a moto)
Glen Helen - Josh Grant (+22)
Hangtown - Andrew Short (+24)
Thunder Valley - Fredrik Noren (+21)
High Point - Shane Sewell & Zack Williams (+14)
Muddy Creek - Josh Grant (+29)
Red Bud - Fredrick Noren & Joey Savatgy (+21)
Budds Creek - Dean Wilson (+21)
Spring Creek - Jason Anderson (+25)
Thanks for reading; email me at firstname.lastname@example.org and we can debate this “Best Track on the Circuit” thing or talk about Eli Tomac, basset hounds, or really, anything.