Sign of the (Lap) Times: Spring Creek

Sign of the (Lap) Times Spring Creek

July 21, 2015 3:05pm

By Chase Stallo and Jason Weigandt

AutoTrader.com/Toyota/JGR Yamaha’s Justin Barcia was visibly frustrated following a 2-2 day for second overall at Millville on Saturday. It’s a stark contrast from round two at Glen Helen, where Barcia admitted he was “happy” with the same finish. It only shows how far Barcia has come in 2015—from happy to frustrated with second. “I don’t know how to look at it, really,” Barcia said when asked if it was a good thing to be frustrated with second. “It’s not like I can go home this week and work harder than I’ve been working because I’m hammering down. It’s just frustrating. I don’t know.” 

With his finish, Barcia closed to within 13 points of Ken Roczen for second in the championship—another reminder of how far his season has come. Following round five at High Point, Barcia was fourth in the championship, 37 back of Roczen. “I wish we were in the championship fight, but I struggled in the beginning of the season a little bit,” he said post race. “But it’s great. I don’t know what I am in points right now, but any points I can make every weekend on Roczen and Blake [Baggett] is good. It feels good to be chipping away a little. Can’t let Ryan win. That’s the hard part. He’s just making points when he is in front of me. So that’s a challenge. But it’s a big point difference. I don’t really think about the points too much. I just go out there and ride the best I can. If I get second, if I get first, if I get third, it just is what it is.”

Roczen, once in serious contention for the championship, has fallen back and now sits just 13 points ahead of third-place Justin Barcia.
Roczen, once in serious contention for the championship, has fallen back and now sits just 13 points ahead of third-place Justin Barcia. photo: Cudby

As for Roczen, since climbing back into championship contention (somewhat) with moto wins at Tennessee and High Point, he hasn’t been able to match Dungey, or Barcia, since Budds Creek. He finished just off the podium at Millville after Blake Baggett caught him for third late in the second moto. “We spent a lot of time working on the suspension and, unfortunately, I never really got as comfortable as I hoped I would,” he said in a post-race press release. “We still ended up third in the first moto and fourth in the second moto. I’m going to California this week so we can do some testing and get dialed in for next weekend.” Roczen is now 56 points back of Ryan Dungey in the championship. 

With just four rounds left and a 56-point lead in hand, we can begin to envision scenarios of when Ryan Dungey could clinch his third 450MX title—his first since 2012. A possible 200 points remain in the championship, and yes, anything can happen, but Dungey could clinch with a few rounds remaining. The earliest Dungey could clinch would be at round ten at Unadilla. For that to happen, Dungey would have to pick up 44 points over the next four motos. The more likely scenario would be Dungey clinching at round eleven in Utah. Dungey would need to pick up just 19 points over the next five motos to seal the deal in the first moto at Utah. To close on the title in the second moto, Dungey would just need to hold serve—as he already holds a more-than-50-point lead on Roczen. 

What a couple weeks for Honda HRC’s Fredrik Noren. Following the RedBud National, Noren married long-time girlfriend Amy Schaaf at a small ceremony in Ohio. The two took a short vacation—the honeymoon will have to wait until after the season—during the off-weekend, before Noren returned to training. Noren had a career day at Millville, picking up his first-ever top-five moto finish and matching a career-best seventh overall—set a round prior at RedBud. He also picked up 29 points on ninth-place Weston Peick, who had bike troubles in both motos and went 35-22, and now sits just 10 points back. “I’ve been working a lot on my starts this week, and that helped, for sure, because I got two good starts, putting myself in a good position in each race,” he said post-race in a team statement. “We made some minor adjustments to the bike between motos that made me even more comfortable, and I think it showed in my riding.”

Noren is producing career-best results on the Honda HRC fill-in ride.
Noren is producing career-best results on the Honda HRC fill-in ride. photo: Cudby

Peick has had his share of bad luck lately. After a few off weekends struggling with energy in the first motos, he finally returned to strength and went 5-6 at RedBud. “Feeling much better now,” he told us on Saturday morning. But at Millville, his bike shut down in moto one, and he bent his brake pedal around his foot peg in moto two. He failed to score points in either moto.

Cole Seely’s return from a leg injury sustained prior to Budds Creek lasted just two practices, as he injured his shoulder in the second practice after crashing on the uphill triple and didn’t return. Seely is expected to undergo further tests early this week to determine his status for Washougal. “I’m so frustrated that I wasn’t able to race again today,” he said in a team statement. “It’s disappointing not only for myself, but for the entire Honda team that puts so much work into what they do. I’d been feeling good all week and was excited to get back out there and ride. This has been a tough season.”

After five top-fives over the last six motos, Christophe Pourcel took a step back at Millville. In his worst finish since a 38-14 performance at the Tennessee National in early June, Pourcel struggled with starts and couldn’t find his rhythm. “The first moto was a little muddy, but they did a good job on the track. I got a bad start and was in the back of the pack, but still ended up in the top ten, which isn’t too bad,” he said in a team statement. “In the second moto I was third at the start, but something happened in the corner and I ended up fifteenth. I couldn’t make passes right away. Once I got in the top ten, all the fast guys were way ahead of me. It was hard to find a good line. I can only get better from here.“

Broc Tickle scored his second top-five in the last four motos en route to sixth overall at Millville. Just 7 points back of Jason Anderson—the two earned the same number of points at Millville—for fifth, Tickle has been one of the most consistent riders in the 450 Class this year, finishing outside the top ten just twice (both at Glen Helen). “It’s solid on paper, but I’m not that pumped with it,” he said via a team press release. “I feel like I could have been a lot better in the second moto. I felt like I should have been stronger.” 

BTOSports.com KTM’s Justin Brayton had a ton of friends and family members on hand, since this is the closest national to his hometown of Fort Dodge, Iowa. Unfortunately, Pourcel ran into Brayton in the first moto, which stripped his front spokes and left him feeling dizzy. He elected not to line up for the second moto but hopes to be ready for Washougal.

Shorty made his return at Millville, going 16-15 on the day.
Shorty made his return at Millville, going 16-15 on the day. photo: Cudby

Brayton’s teammate, Andrew Short, was back in action after dealing with a broken kneecap from the New Jersey Supercross in April. Shorty told us last week he wasn’t at 100 percent fitness yet but just wanted to try racing. He went 16-15. 

Josh Grant’s return was better, putting his Monster Energy Kawasaki in the top ten overall in the 450 Class. Grant had to stop racing when the Discount Tire/TwoTwo Motorsports Kawasaki team shut down. Grant’s filling in for the injured Wil Hahn, and will remain with the team through the end of the season. “The weekend was awesome. I accomplished what I set out to do, which was finish within the top ten,” Grant said in a team statement. “The whole team put in a great effort, which made things easy for me, to go out there and ride like I know how to. Overall, I'm very happy with my performance and how the weekend went.” 

450 Class Moto 1

Lap Rank Finish Best Lap In Lap Avg Lap Time Rider
1 1 2:15.821 7 2:18.502 Ryan Dungey
2 2 2:16.229 5 2:18.729 Justin Barcia
3 3 2:17.167 6 2:19.262 Ken Roczen
4 4 2:17.319 10 2:20.485 Blake Baggett
5 35 2:18.612 2 2:23.883 Weston Peick
6 5 2:19.094 5 2:22.021 Broc Tickle
7 6 2:19.661 5,6 2:22.343 Jason Anderson
8 7 2:19.679 2 2:23.484 Phil Nicoletti
9 8 2:20.592 3 2:23.258 Fredrik Noren
10 9 2:21.402 6 2:23.279 Christophe Pourcel

There's really just one thing you need to see here: Jason Anderson, miraculously, amazingly, incredibly, logged the EXACT SAME LAP TIME on back-to-back laps in the first moto. We've never seen that before, ever. Oh, also, Weston Peick has terrible luck and his bike died in the moto.

450 Class Moto 2

Lap Rank Finish Best Lap In Lap Avg Lap Time Rider
1 1 2:13.746 5 2:18.006 Ryan Dungey
2 2 2:14.290 6 2:18.420 Justin Barcia
3 4 2:15.219 3 2:20.022 Ken Roczen
4 6 2:16.525 2 2:21.532 Jason Anderson
5 5 2:16.672 3 2:20.323 Fredrik Noren
6 3 2:16.702 3 2:19.335 Blake Baggett
7 7 2:17.662 2 2:22.037 Broc Tickle
8 10 2:18.753 2 2:24.531 Phil Nicoletti
9 9 2:19.022 2 2:23.697 Josh Grant
10 8 2:20.099 3 2:22.490 Christophe Pourcel

Blake Baggett's sixth-best lap but third-place finish was powered by a late surge. On lap fourteen (of sixten total) Baggett ran a 2:18.7, while the next fastest rider on that lap was Justin Barcia, who went 2:21.9 while trying to keep pressure on Ryan Dungey. Baggett made up time down the stretch to steal third from Ken Roczen.

250 Class Moto 1

Lap Rank Finish Best Lap In Lap Avg Lap Time Rider
1 8 2:18.450 2 2:25.397 Marvin Musquin
2 1 2:18.950 2 2:21.421 Cooper Webb
3 3 2:19.540 8 2:21.657 Jeremy Martin
4 2 2:19.716 15 2:21.706 Joey Savatgy
5 4 2:19.976 11 2:22.672 Alex Martin
6 5 2:21.737 4 2:25.104 RJ Hampshire
7 9 2:21.853 4 2:25.870 Kyle Peters
8 14 2:21.886 4 2:27.567 Mitchell Oldenburg
9 7 2:22.206 3 2:24.868 Zach Osborne
10 6 2:22.241 9 2:24.547 Aaron Plessinger

You can see here that Marvin Musquin had the stuff to win this moto, but he crashed and stuffed his bike in a huge mud pile while leading. You can also see Joey Savatgy digging to hold off Jeremy Martin on the last lap.

250 Class Moto 2

Lap Rank Finish Best Lap In Lap Avg Lap Time Rider
1 1 2:16.333 2 2:19.362 Jeremy Martin
2 3 2:18.473 5 2:21.130 Marvin Musquin
3 2 2:18.553 2 2:21.015 Cooper Webb
4 5 2:18.979 3 2:21.483 Jordon Smith
5 4 2:19.116 4 2:21.533 Joey Savatgy
6 6 2:19.712 4 2:21.520 Shane McElrath
7 9 2:19.799 3 2:24.061 Aaron Plessinger
8 8 2:19.870 3 2:23.749 Chris Alldredge
9 7 2:20.718 7 2:23.079 Zach Osborne
10 11 2:20.910 2 2:25.479 Matt Bisceglia

Jeremy Martin had fire in his eyes and killed everyone in this race. No. Further. Message.

More News and Notes

GEICO Honda’s Christian Craig left both motos early Saturday after sustaining a shoulder injury in a crash with teammate Jordon Smith in the first moto. "I felt my shoulder pop, and from there on it bothered me the rest of the day," Craig said in a team statement. "I tried to go back out for the second moto and made my way through the pack, but around lap five or six, my shoulder started feeling weak, and I couldn't hang on anymore. I didn't want to put myself in danger and make it worse." 

Craig said on Twitter the injury was just a bruise and he would be back for the Washougal National this weekend.

Hampshire's fifth in moto one matched a personal best.
Hampshire's fifth in moto one matched a personal best. photo: Cudby

As for rookie teammates Jordon Smith and RJ Hampshire, it’s been the “tale of one good and one bad moto” all year, and Millville was the best example yet, as Hampshire went 5-12 and Smith went 12-5. The fifths tie the career high for each. Smith finished seventh overall on the day. "I had a pretty good start and was running right up there with the front guys," Smith said of the second moto in a team statement. "I was right behind [Joey] Savatgy and [Marvin] Musquin. They pulled away a little bit, and then I caught them some at the end. It was a good day overall. Definitely moving in the right direction."

Hampshire led for the second time in three rounds and held on for a solid fifth in the first moto, but couldn’t replicate the result and finished twelfth in moto two for ninth overall. "I just can't seem to put two motos together," Hampshire said in a team statement. "It seems like it's been like that the whole season. The first moto, I pulled a holeshot and rode pretty well and ended up fifth. The second moto, I didn't get that good of a start and then kind of lost my rear brakes and made a couple mistakes. I went down a couple times and ended up 5-12. Another top-ten, but I still want more." 

Zach Osborne, coming off four podiums over the last five motos, struggled to fifth overall via 7-7 finishes on Saturday. It was his worst finish since a 13-33 day at round two at Glen Helen. “I had decent speed in practice,” Osborne said in a team statement. “But today was kind of disappointing. I didn’t have any pop in the first moto and got a bad start in the second moto. I ended up fifth overall, so if this is my worst day for the season, I guess it’s okay. I’m looking forward to Washougal.” 

Joey Savatgy found something prior to Spring Creek, but he's not saying just what it was.
Joey Savatgy found something prior to Spring Creek, but he's not saying just what it was. photo: Cudby

He’s not telling anyone what it is, but Joey Savatgy explain over the weekend that, after a tough RedBud, he learned something about himself physically and felt much better at Spring Creek. His podium overall performance proved it. Will he be the same come Washougal?

Red Bull KTM’s Justin Hill had another rough go at Millville, as he admitted the heat got to him in the second moto. “First time I’ve ever had a problem with humidity, not at Loretta’s, never,” he told us after the race. He does expect to be recovered by his home race at Washougal this weekend. Hill went 17-16 at Spring Creek.