Redux: Muddy Creek

Redux Muddy Creek

June 27, 2017 9:15am

The good news for Monster Energy Kawasaki is that Eli Tomac is back in victory lane after a couple of frustrating races. “It feels good to get back to where we started,” said Tomac in a Kawasaki statement. “We had a mix of bad luck and small mistakes, but we’re past it and back on top. Overall, today was great for both the team and I. My Kawasaki was working great from start to finish. I’m ready to race RedBud tomorrow, if I could.”

The bad news is that Josh Grant crashed in qualifying and was unable to line up for the motos. We’re awaiting an update on Grant’s status for RedBud, which is usually one of his best tracks.

The Tennessee National was about as bad as it can get for Team Honda HRC. Christian Craig sat the event out while healing his hand injury, and Cole Seely crashed out of moto one. He wasn’t severely injured, but thought it best to sit out moto two and return ready for RedBud next week.

“I’m bummed how today ended because I was feeling good before I crashed,” said Seely in a Honda statement. “It was early in the race but I definitely had more to give and think I could have kept working my way forward. I had a good jump out of the gate off the start but shifted into third and lost all my momentum because it was so deep. A few laps later, while I was battling with Cooper [Webb], we came together over a jump and hit. Unfortunately, I got the worst of it and went down hard. I got checked out by Alpinestars and the team, and I decided it was best to sit out the second race.”

Cole Seely is expected back for this weekend at RedBud.
Cole Seely is expected back for this weekend at RedBud. Rich Shepherd

Luckily Honda expects both Seely and Craig back for next weekend. “I’m a little frustrated in today’s outcome, just because we’ve had such a tough run with injuries, but overall I’m very happy that Cole is okay,” said team manager Dan Betley. “I was standing right where he went down, so I saw the whole crash and it wasn’t good. We’ll be back next weekend at RedBud with both Cole and Christian, so hopefully we rebound and get back toward the front.”

Honda’s positive news? “Fast” Freddie Noren scored his first top 10 moto result of the year with eighth in moto two on his Precision Site Work/TiLube squad. He was 11th overall. Japan’s Toshiki Tomita logged his best round of the series thus far. A past Japanese National Champion who is competing in the series with support from HRC, Tomita spent much of the past year recovering from a serious back injury and only began riding again at the end of March. He went 18-16 for 17th overall.

It wasn’t a great day for Red Bull KTM but at least the team had positive news on the injury front, as Marvin Musquin told us on Thursday that his knee was getting better, and Trey Canard returned from his collarbone injury. Unfortunately, Marvin might have been better than High Point, but he was still far from his pre-injury pace (which put him in the points lead), and then a rock busted his front brake caliper in the second moto, leading to a DNF. How about both he and Tomac losing major points due to front brake problems in the same season? Weird.

“I ended up with a DNF in the second moto, which was disappointing. I had a problem because a rock hit the brake,” said Musquin in a KTM statement. “Overall it was a bit better than last week regarding the feeling in my knee, but it’s still difficult. I was able to practice pretty well over the week, so that’s what I’m going to try and do again next week. I’m going to keep working and will try to get better and stronger. It’s tough because I’m losing points in the championship, but it’s mainly about me getting better.”

Trey Canard was back in action on Saturday.
Trey Canard was back in action on Saturday. Kardy

Canard was supposed to return at RedBud, but told us on Saturday morning that some test sessions in California went so well this week that he decided to come back a week early. Trey was fast at Muddy Creek—fourth in qualifying, and battling around the top five in both motos. The lack of race fitness caught up to him, though, and he ended up going 10-11 for 12th overall.

“My tongue is still on the track,” he said to our Kyle Scott. “Just didn’t have enough juice in me. That will come. Just got to stay with it and keep a positive attitude and try to stay strong.”

The Yoshimura/RCH Suzuki duo of Broc Tickle and Justin Bogle continue to show signs of brilliance, and the speed of both was better than the results (Bogle seventh overall; Tickle tenth) show.

“Muddy Creek was decent,” commented Bogle in a team statement. “First moto was a big struggle. I was running up front for most of it and then kind of got frustrated and hit a wall. Then I had a little trouble with my riding gear so that didn’t help. I was struggling pretty hard the last 10-15 minutes of the first moto. I’ll take that one on my shoulders. I just needed to get through those issues a little better. I worked on it for the second moto and came out and got the holeshot and was feeling great. I had a fall, got up, made some passes, got passed and made some passes again. I fought the whole way through and ended up fifth. I was seventh on the day so all things considered, I’ll take it. I’m not super excited about the result but I’m seeing light at the end of the tunnel. Second moto was good. Without a fall, I think I’m up there where I want to be.”

“I always look forward to Muddy Creek,” said Tickle. “I raced there a lot when I was growing up. I always have a lot of fans there and the track is great. I’m happy with my riding but I struggled with my starts. A couple of bad gate choices put me in some bad spots. First moto was good. I started 10th or so and passed a couple guys and pushed to the end to get sixth. Everyone was close and we didn’t get as spread out like we have over the last couple of weeks. Second moto, I tried lining up on the inside but I didn’t get the jump I needed and ended up on the ground, on the bottom of the pile. I charged from dead last all the way to 12th and still finished on the lead lap. Not exactly the results I was looking for but there were still some positives. I’m looking forward to RedBud and getting back up front on starts and fighting for the podium.”

Justin Bogle bounced back in the second moto to finish seventh overall.
Justin Bogle bounced back in the second moto to finish seventh overall. Kardy

It’s been a brutal season for the AutoTrader.com/JGR Suzuki team but Muddy Creek was pretty good, including Weston Peick’s 4-4 for fourth, which was nearly third before Blake Baggett’s ridiculous charge took over. Justin Barcia was also good despite riding after a concussion last week (don’t freak out, he passed all tests). We talked to them both in Open Mic yesterday.

Jeremy Martin’s title hopes took a bit of a hit at Muddy Creek, as he went 13-6 and lost 18 points on series’ leader Zach Osborne. He also dropped from second to third in the standings, jumped by his brother Alex. “Rough day of racing at Muddy Creek for the number six machine,” said Martin in a GEICO Honda PR. “I needed to be better on a day that I wasn't feeling very good. Starts were everything on that track so the first turn crash in the first moto set the tone for the day. Had the bad gate pick for the second moto. Not making excuses though—I straight up got beat and I gotta get better. Looking forward to RedBud and getting back up front.”

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High Point was rough on the Monster Energy/Pro Circuit Kawasaki team, so Austin Forkner bouncing back to score his first podium of the year was at least something…although the problem is that Forkner is now the top ranked team rider in the standings, but is just fifth and 48 points behind leader Zach Osborne.

“Today’s pace was crazy fast,” said Forkner in a team statement. “The pace never settled today and from start to finish we were absolutely sending it the entire time. Overall, I’m pumped on my fitness and speed today and I’m looking forward to building.”

Alex Martin sat on Forkner’s back fender in both motos but could never make a move. But his 4-4 put him back ahead of his brother in the standings. “I’ve been glad to have the consistency throughout the season,” said Martin. “If something happens to the leader in the championship, I know we can be right there. It would be nice to get better overall finishes with my moto scores, but the class is so competitive and the points are close.”

AC had his best moto finish since the opening moto at Hangtown on Saturday.
AC had his best moto finish since the opening moto at Hangtown on Saturday. Rich Shepherd

Adam Cianciarulo started the year with second in the first moto at Hangtown, but hadn’t returned to that spot until Muddy Creek’s first moto, where he chased race winner Aaron Plessinger and grabbed the runner up finish. “I felt better this weekend,” said Cianciarulo, who went 2-5, compared to his 5-13 at High Point. “It was nice to get one podium finish today. We’re getting closer to the front with every moto and I’m not going to quit until I’m on that top spot.”

The other two Pro Circuit riders weren’t as happy with the weekend. “I wasn’t on pace today,” said Joey Savatgy. “I seemed to be just a little off all day and couldn’t keep up with the front runners. I’m pumped for Adam and Austin on their podium finishes, they both rode great. All I can do is do my homework this week and come out swinging next week.”

“Today was tough,” said Justin Hill. “I changed my work out routine this past week and I’m hoping this new technique will eventually turn things around for me. All we can do is continue to work and put in our best effort.”

Shane McElrath told us on Thursday that the week before High Point was his first of the outdoor season where he’s been able to log a regular week of training. Shane hurt his hip at the Seattle Supercross and hasn’t been healthy since—even though he did tough through the pain and win the Salt Lake City Supercross. He was better at Muddy Creek, his home track, with 6-11 scores for seventh overall.

“It’s such a good feeling coming to this track where I spent a lot of time in my early years,” said McElrath in a Troy Lee Designs/Red Bull KTM statement. “My first moto start was really good and helped me push hard in those opening laps. I wish I would have been able to duplicate it in moto two, but I’m happy to get my best finish of the season and hopefully we can build on it.”

Chas Sexton improved on his pro debut from a week ago, just missing the top 10 overall in his second pro race. “Tennessee went pretty well,” said Sexton. “Track was fun and the fans were awesome! First moto I fell in the first corner and had to come from way back to 15th. Second moto was top 15 on the start and made some passes early and felt really good on the bike. Ended up ninth in the second moto and 11th overall on the day. Now I just need to work on starts and come out swinging at RedBud!”

Chase Sexton finished 11th overall in his second pro race.
Chase Sexton finished 11th overall in his second pro race. Rich Shepherd

Sexton’s GEICO Honda teammate RJ Hampshire was fast early at Muddy Creek, but bike problems ended his run while running with the lead pack in moto one.

“Day started off good. I always rode well at Muddy Creek so I was pretty excited to go racing,” said Hampshire. “First moto I had a good start, came around the first turn in second but slid out exiting the turn and fell back to fourth. Struggled to find a flow the first couple laps and got shuffled back a little bit. Started putting laps together and pulled up to Zach Osborne and the pack in front of me. I think lap eight we ran into some electrical problems so that ended my moto. Second moto we had 38th gate pick and just tried to make the best out of it on a track that was pretty tough to pass on. I'm happy with my riding and the starts. We will be ready for RedBud.”