Lucas Oil AMA Pro Motocross Championship: Motosport.com Motocross National Team Previews and Series Statistics for Washougal MORGANTOWN, W.V. (July 23, 2009) - The second half of the 2009 Lucas Oil AMA Pro Motocross Championship season...
Lucas Oil AMA Pro Motocross Championship:
Motosport.com Motocross National Team Previews and Series Statistics for Washougal
MORGANTOWN, W.V. (July 23, 2009) - The second half of the 2009 Lucas Oil AMA Pro Motocross Championship season kicked-off what will surely be a memorable final six races as Rockstar/Makita/Suzuki set the tone for the year's final push. This weekend, the series heads to the beautiful Pacific Northwest for the Motosport.com Motocross National Presented by Yamaha and Scott USA from Washougal MX Park in lush Washougal, Wash. Live coverage of round eight can been seen on SPEED, beginning at 9 p.m. ET.
For the second time in 2009, the factory Suzuki stable swept the overall victories in the 450 and 250 classes at Spring Creek. Premier class points leader Chad Reed raced to season win number two, which also served as his second career victory on the big bikes. The win helped Reed extend his points lead and in control of the series' home stretch. Teammate Ryan Dungey made it two in a row at his home track in Minnesota and vaulted to just three points out of the 250 Class points lead by garnering his third win of the season.
Reed's cushion now sits at a comfortable 37 points and according to the Australian, last weekend was the first time all season that he felt as though he rode his best. The two-time supercross champion has held the red leader plate since his first win at High Point and if his words are true, his rivals are going to need to be at the top of their game down the homestretch. For Michael Byrne, Spring Creek marked the fellow Australian's return to the overall podium. He rode his best race of the season, overcoming adversity en route to an impressive third place effort. From here on out, Byrne will be looking to keep up the momentum.
"Going into the weekend, I want to try and keep some momentum going," stated Reed. "I'm keeping my fingers crossed that this past weekend was the last of my stomach problems. Washougal is a tough track - it's hard and it's slick. Even though I've always done well there, it's a track I've had to work hard at."
"Washougal is a good track for me, I enjoy racing there," said Byrne. "It can be a little bit slick but everybody will have to deal with that. The track layout is really fun and the Rockstar/Makita/Suzuki RM-Z450 worked good there last year so hopefully this weekend we'll be able to keep the ball rolling."
Honda Red Bull Racing
Honda returned to full strength last weekend in Millville. The arrival of Davi Millsaps was a welcome sight throughout the pits as the Georgia rider competed in his first race since injuring his neck at the series' second round. Prior to the event, Millsaps stated that his goal was to finish on the podium at the remaining races. If not for some hard luck, he would have achieved his goal, looking rejuvenated at the front of the pack. For his teammates Ivan Tedesco and Andrew Short, it was a quiet Saturday. Tedesco captured second overall, but did so methodically and without flair. He closed the gap on Short who sits second in the standings and had a frustrating day in Minnesota by his standards finishing fifth overall. With a runner-up finish at Washougal one year ago to build off of, Short will look to close the gap on Reed while his teammates push to keep Honda at the forefront of the class.
Coming off his first career win at RedBud, Josh Grant had high hopes at reasserting himself in the championship fight at Spring Creek. A strong performance in moto one gave the Southern California rookie the win and a upper hand in claiming his second straight victory but a crash out of the gate relegated Grant to the back of the field where he was able to recover admirably and capture fourth overall. Washougal has been a good track for Grant, who finished third in the 250 Class one year ago and he hopes it translates to another trip atop the podium. For teammate Cody Cooper, 2009 continues to be a battle of consistency. While he is a regular top-10 performer, Cooper expects to run at the front of the pack each week. While his ninth place run last weekend helped solidify his sixth place in the standings, he hopes to gain ground on the top five. If a fourth place finish at Washougal in 2008 is any indication, the New Zealander could find himself on the podium on Saturday.
A pair of seventh place finishes in Millville helped give Justin Brayton his best career finish of sixth since joining the 450 Class in 2009. Prior to last weekend, Brayton's best finish in a moto was seventh, coming at High Point. Thanks to strong starts, he ran up front early and got a taste of the pace necessary to have a shot at the top five. The race proved to be a valuable lesson in his continued growth as a big bike rider and should result in another strong outing in Washington.
Brayton added, "I have been working hard this season and progressing each round and hope to break the top five this weekend and land on the podium before the season is over."
Monster Energy/Pro Circuit/Kawasaki
With two straight victories to his credit, Jake Weimer entered Spring Creek as the rider to beat in the 250 Class. However, the depth of talent in arguably the toughest field in history resulted in a sixth place finish for the Idaho rider after mid-pack starts out of the gate. Despite missing out on a third overall win, Weimer still made up ground in the standings, moving into sixth. For teammate Christophe Pourcel, Millville proved to be an important race in the championship. The points leader captured his seventh straight overall podium result and has yet to finish worse than second this season. Rival Ryan Dungey swept the day's motos, but thanks to his stellar consistency, the Frenchman still holds a three point advantage. The championship battle is shaping up to be a dogfight over the final five rounds but Pourcel's calmness throughout the 2009 campaign will surely help him remained focus.
"Washougal should be a good race for me," said Weimer. "We have been running pretty well and I like the track. We're going to just keep working hard and we're going to try and get the results we know we can achieve."
I want to start winning again," explained Pourcel. "My goal is the championship and the easiest way to get that is to win motos. I overcame some things last week so I know I can still race for the win."
After several motos of small misfortune where valuable championship points may have slipped away, Ryan Dungey put together his best performance of the season at his hometown race by going 1-1 on the day. It was a huge boost in confidence for Dungey who has felt as though he let a couple opportunities slip away earlier in the season. One year ago, the Minnesota native garnered one of the biggest wins of his career at Washougal, outlasting Ryan Villopoto to claim his first career professional motocross victory. Since this race in 2008, Dungey has been a different rider and with such a strong performance one week ago to set the stage on Saturday, he is ready to take the title fight to the wire.
"Washougal is always a track I enjoy going to," added Dungey. "It's one of my favorite stops on the racing circuit. I got my first Outdoors win there last year, so that makes it special for me. Hopefully I can get another win there this weekend."
GEICO Powersports Honda
Over the last couple rounds, rookie Justin Barcia and veteran Brett Metcalfe have put on a show for the fans while leading the way for the GEICO Honda team. The duo ran at the front of the pack again in Millville and appear to be settling into a groove as the season reaches the final stretch. Barcia captured his first career overall podium finish with Metcalfe following closely in fourth. The performances have vaulted each rider up the standings where Metcalfe has moved into the top three while Barcia sits fifth, inching his way towards the top four. Blake Wharton suffered from a hard-luck outing last Saturday, scoring just two points. Despite the tough finish, Wharton's resiliency and ability to run up front should translate into a big turnaround in Washington. Metcalfe is the only member of the team with previous experience at Washougal, finishing just off the podium last season in fourth.
After a string of outstanding runs leading into Spring Creek, Tommy Searle surprised many onlookers with his 10th-place finish last Saturday. The British rookie did not appear to be the same rider that posted three consecutive podium results and in turn, dropped from third to fourth in the standings. He will be looking to bounce back this weekend. For teammates Wil Hahn and Martin Davalos, Minnesota was a race to forget as each rider suffered injuries and will miss the action this weekend.
"I had an off weekend at Millville and just never got comfortable," explained Searle. "I worked with my trainer and my team this week to improve in some areas where I was lacking last week and plan to return to the podium this weekend."
After a two-race break, the Women's Motocross Class of the Lucas Oil AMA Pro Motocross Championship returns to action at Washougal. Honda Red Bull Racing's Ashley Fiolek is a perfect 5-0 this season for overall victories, but five-time champion and arch rival Jessica Patterson is the only woman to ever win at Washougal since the class began racing there in 2004. With some time off, all the girls will be fresh and while the battle up front between Fiolek and Patterson will be tight, expect Cernic's Suzuki's Sherri Cruse to make her presence felt as she looks to steal a win of her own.