The 2012 Lucas Oil Pro Motocross Championship, sanctioned by AMA Pro Racing, will host its fifth round of the season on Saturday with the annual visit to Southern Maryland and Budds Creek MX Park. The Red Bull Budds Creek National, from Mechanicsville, will challenge riders on one of the most renowned tracks in the country and will also signify the debut race to be broadcast live on network television on NBC.
At last weekend’s FMF High Point National in Pennsylvania, Red Bull KTM’s Ryan Dungey asserted himself as the rider to beat in the 450 Class by securing his second consecutive overall victory and extending his points lead. Additionally, GEICO Honda’s Eli Tomac became the first repeat winner in the 250 Class.
Red Bull KTM
Dungey swept the motos for the second consecutive weekend at High Point, putting forth another impressive effort. Since breaking through for his first win of the season two weeks ago, Dungey has generated considerable momentum as the season approaches its first break from competition. His championship advantage over the field now sits at 42 points as he heads into Budds Creek looking for his second win at the facility in three years.
Mike Alessi gave Dungey fierce competition at High Point by leading half of each moto. In fact, Alessi passed Dungey on the opening lap of Moto 2 in search of the overall win, but ultimately settled for a pair of runner-up efforts and a season-best second-place overall finish. By virtue of his performance, Alessi moved into second in the championship.
Monster Energy Kawasaki
One week after grabbing his first-career podium finish in the 450 Class, Jake Weimer backed up his performance in Pennsylvania. Weimer asserted himself in the battle for the championship by claiming his second straight overall podium result (3-3) and while he fell from second to third in the standings, Weimer is a mere three points behind Alessi in second. He is also a former winner at Budds Creek in the 250 Class.
“I’m really having fun this season,” said Weimer. “I’m happy with where I’m at right now and I’m ready to be on the box every moto. Budds Creek is always a good racetrack, so hopefully they prep it well and develops lots of lines. I’ve won here before in the 250 Class, so I’m looking to get back into second in the points.”
Team Chaparral Honda
Andrew Short has gotten his 2012 season off to a solid start for the brand new L&Mc Racing team. After grabbing a podium finish at his hometown race from Colorado, Short secured a fourth-place finish at High Point (4-8) and moved to fourth in the championship standings.
Team Yoshimura Suzuki
James Stewart returned to action at High Point after recording no points in Colorado. The two-time race winner this season battled his way through the field to finish fifth in the first moto, but ultimately wasn’t able to compete in Moto 2 due to soreness in his throttle hand. Stewart’s status for Budds Creek remains uncertain. He currently sits fifth in the 450 Class standings.
“My Yoshimura Suzuki RM-Z450 was working great and I was trying to do my best, but in the first moto I got a horrible start – outside the top 20,” said Stewart. “I was able to work my way up to fifth, which was pretty good, but about halfway through the race I was barely able to hang on. It just didn’t make sense to race the second moto. It was a tough decision to make between the races – especially because everybody worked so hard. We’ll go back and reevaluate the situation. I’ll probably just wait until the end of the week and see where we’re at, and go from there.”
Brett Metcalfe posted another top-10 effort in Pennsylvania to continue his solid start to the season. Metcalfe’s 7-5 moto scores landed him sixth overall, where he also sits in the championship standings, two points behind teammate Stewart.
“I got great starts in both motos at High Point,” said Metcalfe. “The Yoshimura Suzuki RM-Z450 was awesome off the gate and that helped me get up there with the front-runners. We made big improvements throughout the day and I’m looking forward to carrying that momentum to Budds Creek.”
Nico Izzi is carrying the Star/Valli flag high this season, starting the year off in impressive fashion during his first full season of 450 Class competition. At High Point, Izzi’s 8-10 moto efforts resulted in a ninth-place finish overall and now Izzi is looking forward to continued success.
“I felt like I rode really well all day at High Point,” said Izzi. “Budds Creek should be good. I like the track and I have the speed, I just need to work on my starts.”
Monster Energy/Pro Circuit/Kawasaki
Broc Tickle has been a regular presence inside the top 10 during his rookie season of 450 Class competition. In Pennsylvania that continued as Tickle posted a seventh-place finish (6-9) to solidify himself in eighth in the championship standings.
“I’ve been working hard during the week and doing everything I can,” said Tickle. “Budds Creek is one of my favorite tracks and I’m looking forward to it. I want to be back on the podium again and be in the top five every moto.”
Jeff Ward Racing Kawasaki
Josh Grant didn’t have the day he was looking for at High Point. Following a 10th-place finish in the opening moto, Grant encountered misfortune in Moto 2 en route to finishing 38th. As a result, Grant finished 15th overall, but still sits ninth in the points.
Grant’s teammate Kyle Chisholm fared better in Pennsylvania, relying on 14-12 moto scores to finish 12th overall. In the championship, he sits 18 points behind his teammate in 10th.
Team Honda Muscle Milk
Justin Brayton’s season hasn’t gotten off to the start he was hoping for, but over the last two weeks, he’s begun to turn things around. At High Point, Brayton battled his way to an 11th-place finish (11-13), narrowly missing out on the top 10. His recent efforts have helped Brayton rise in the championship, where he currently sits just two points outside the top 10 in 11th.
“(High Point) went okay for me,” said Brayton. “I’m going to work on some things this week for Budds Creek and hope to improve on my 11th overall finish.”
Monster Energy/Pro Circuit/Kawasaki
Coming into High Point, Blake Baggett had finished on the podium in every moto of the 2012 season. Following a third-place finish to start the day, Baggett was challenging for the podium yet again in Moto 2, but encountered misfortune in the late stages to finish fifth in the moto and just miss out on the overall podium in fourth. Despite that, Baggett still maintains control of the red number plate as the 250 Class points leader.
“It’s been awhile since I’ve won,” said Baggett. “I haven’t won since the first round, so I’m ready to stand back on the top step of the box. Budds Creek has been good to me in the past, so I’m hoping to get it done.”
Ivan Tedesco bounced back from his tough outing in Colorado to return to the top 10 in Pennsylvania. The veteran rider finished seventh overall (7-10) and currently sits eighth in the championship. He’ll look for success at Budds Creek on Saturday.
“My plan was to get through the first five rounds,” said Tedesco. “I’ve gotten decent results and look forward to getting to Budds Creek. It’s a fun track, so I hope to finish strong before the break and come back even stronger.”
Just one week after winning his first race since the 2009 season, Justin Barcia was on the verge of claiming back-to-back victories last weekend. After winning the first moto, Barcia also looked to be in control of he overall in Moto 2. Following a hard charge from his teammate, Barcia settled for a third-place finish in the moto, which forced him to come up just a couple points short of the overall in second. The consecutive weeks of strong runs have moved Barcia to second in the championship, just seven points out of the lead.
“The first moto was good for me,” said Barcia. “I got a good start and felt really strong throughout the whole race. In moto two, I got another pretty good start but wasn’t as comfortable with the track; I was able to hold onto third place, giving me second overall. I am happy to be on the podium again and that much closer to the red plate, but I always want to win.”
Eli Tomac set the tone for his triumphant day at High Point by kicking off the afternoon with a second-place finish behind his teammate. In Moto 2, Tomac put forth an impressive charge to the front of the field, making a last-lap pass to not only win the final moto, but steal the overall from Barcia and become the first repeat winner in the division. He sits third in the championship, 11 points out of the lead.
“The second moto was a lot of work, but I dug deep and never gave up,” said Tomac. “When I saw (Roczen) on the last lap, I couldn’t believe that I actually had a chance to take the win. I am really happy to be back on the podium and that much closer in points.”
Wil Hahn had arguably his best outing of the season at High Point en route to a sixth-place finish. Hahn paced his teammate Barcia throughout the opening moto, ultimately settling for fourth. In the final moto, Hahn battled for a ninth-place finish to end the day with a strong effort and move to sixth in the championship.
“The day started off really strong for me,” said Hahn. “I ended up finishing fourth (in Moto 1) and ninth in Moto 2 after going down on the first lap. As long as I’m in the top 10 and improving each week, then I am happy with sixth overall.”
Red Bull KTM
After a fifth-place finish in the first moto from High Point, Ken Roczen looked poised to capture his first moto win on U.S. soil in Moto 2. However, Roczen settled for second after the late charge by Tomac to once again finish third overall for the fourth consecutive weekend. Roczen is the only rider in the 250 Class to land on the overall podium at each round this season and currently sits fourth in the championship.
After posting the fastest lap in practice, Marvin Musquin rode to a strong fifth-place finish in Pennsylvania. The French rider was solid in each of the motos, posting 6-4 moto scores. He currently sits fifth in the championship and appears to be making strides forward with each passing week. He’ll look to keep the ball rolling at Budds Creek.
Rockstar Energy Racing Suzuki
Blake Wharton endured misfortune at High Point and will be looking to get back on track this Saturday. In Pennsylvania, the Texas rider posted 16-38 moto scores to finish 19th overall and ultimately dropped to seventh in the point standings.
“I had some trouble in the first moto,” said Wharton. “I fell twice. I was doing all right but it’s not the way I wanted to finish the first moto. In the second moto, I felt like I was going to be riding better, but I actually crashed and tore my bike up. It was disappointing, but we’ll go back and keep at it for Budds Creek.”
Jason Anderson broke into the top 10 in the championship thanks to a strong effort last weekend. Anderson has shown impressive speed this season and at High Point he landed eighth overall (13-6) thanks to a pair of solid motos. He occupies the 10th spot in the points and will look to keep moving forward.
“It was good a day, but High Point is always tough,” said Anderson. “In my first moto, I had a couple of crashes and ended up 13th. In the second moto, I got a decent start and ran in sixth. I ended up eighth overall for the day. We’re getting closer to the front and we’ve broken into the top 10 (in points). I like Budds Creek and I’m looking forward to putting in some solid motos this weekend.”
Kyle Cunningham once again landed inside the top 10 in the overall classification at High Point, thanks to 14-7 moto results. Thanks to his continued consistency, Cunningham sits ninth in the championship and continues to make progress from an injury suffered earlier in the season.
“I had some battles at High Point,” said Cunningham. “(My teammate) Gareth Swanepoel and I both pushed to the finish and ended up with decent results. We’ll get to Budds Creek and try to do a little better. I’ve had some good results there and I like that track.”