Steel City Notes PackageFriday, August 31, 2012 | 11:35 AM
Lucas Oil Pro Motocross Championship Notes:
FMF Steel City National
MORGANTOWN, W.Va - The Lucas Oil Pro Motocross Championship, sanctioned by AMA Pro Racing, will host the penultimate round of the 2012 season on Saturday with the Labor Day Weekend tradition that is the FMF Steel City National, from renowned Steel City Raceway in Delmont, Pa. The series' second stop in the state of Pennsylvania is sure to produce a lot of excitement, setting the stage for a captivating conclusion to the season.
At the championship's previous round from Unadilla, Red Bull KTM's Ryan Dungey capped off a historic season for the manufacturer by capturing his eighth consecutive victory and clinching his second 450 Class title in three years. In the 250 Class, Red Bull KTM's Marvin Musquin helped give the Austrian brand its first clean sweep atop the podium, but at the end of the day, Monster Energy/Pro Circuit/Kawasaki's Blake Baggett maintained control of the championship lead.450 Class
Red Bull KTM
Dungey had his work cut out for him at Unadilla, needing to overcome some early adversity in the opening moto to earn his success. His come-from-behind effort to win Moto 1 was complemented with a dominant ride in the final moto, cementing the overall win and the championship after Mike Alessi experienced misfortune in the first moto. The victory vaulted Dungey into a tie for third on the all-time wins list in the 450 Class, and now the newly-crowned champion is looking for continued success in search of his ninth straight win of the summer at a track where he finished in the runner-up spot one year ago. In fact, Steel City is one of just two tracks that Dungey has never won at in the premier class.
Heartbreak is the best way to describe Mike Alessi's day at Unadilla. After such an impressive season, Alessi experienced misfortune in the opening moto, resulting in a DNF and ultimately opening the door for Dungey to secure the championship. Despite his hard luck, Alessi bounced back in Moto 2, riding one of his best races of the season to finish second behind Dungey in the moto and break into 10th overall for the day. Alessi still maintains firm control of second in the championship and will look to return to the overall podium this weekend at Steel City.
Team Chaparral Honda
Andrew Short made his return to the overall podium at Unadilla, capping off what ended up being a big day for him in the points. Short's consistent 4-3 moto results were enough to land him third overall, but more importantly moved him into third in the 450 Class standings, surpassing Jake Weimer. It's been a quiet yet successful year for Short and his L&Mc Racing team, who will look to maintain control of their position in the championship on Saturday with another solid outing.
Monster Energy Kawasaki
Early on at Unadilla, Jake Weimer appeared to be in position to claim his first win as a 450 Class rider, taking the lead early in the first moto, only to suffer a hard fall moments later. The effects of the incident were enough to keep Weimer from finishing the moto, but he returned to salvage points in Moto 2. Unfortunately, more misfortune resulted in an 18th-place finish for Weimer in the moto, which landed him 22nd overall. The points lost to his closest competitors in the championship - Andrew Short and Broc Tickle - caused Weimer to fall from third to fourth in the championship, where he currently sits tied with Tickle. Weimer will eagerly look to bounce back this weekend at Steel City, trying to make up an 18-point deficit to Short in third.
"I had a rough one in Unadilla," said Weimer. "I was super sore after my crash, but it was a blessing to have this past weekend off to have some extra time to get back to 100-percent. Steel City is a fun track, so I'm looking forward to getting the train back on track and getting back up on the podium."
Tyla Rattray enjoyed a solid outing at Unadilla, running consistently inside the top 10 all afternoon. The South African rider has fought through adversity all season long and in New York, he battled bar-to-bar with his rivals in challenging conditions. Rattray's 8-9 moto scores helped land him seventh overall and this weekend he hopes to challenge for the podium.
"These past two weeks I went back to California to test with the team," said Rattray. "I didn't have the weekend I wanted in Unadilla and was motivated to get back to work. We worked hard all week and I'm excited to go to Steel City. I really like the track; it has good dirt and should get nice and rough."
Monster Energy/Pro Circuit/Kawasaki
It's safe to say that Broc Tickle has been the breakout rider of the 2012 season in the 450 Class. At Unadilla, Tickle posted a career-best runner-up finish behind Dungey and came just a couple laps short of his first career moto win at the start of the day. His 2-4 moto results were Tickle's best of the season and allowed him to force a tie with Weimer for fourth place in the championship standings. Like his Kawasaki-mounted rival, Tickle sits 18 points out of third in the points and hopes the momentum of his second-place effort will carry into Steel City.
"I had a great weekend in Unadilla," said Tickle. "I've been having a lot of fun, working hard, and it's showing in my results. For the weekend off I relaxed, played some golf, and I am ready to get back into it. Steel City is a really fun track. There's always a chance of rain and I like when it's muddy. It's really rutty and lots of off-cambers, so I always have fun there."
Jeff Ward Racing Kawasaki
Josh Grant enjoyed a top-five effort at Unadilla, further solidifying his possession of sixth place in the 450 Class standings. Grant has helped make the debut season for JWR a successful one and his 5-6 moto results in New York resulted in fifth-overall. With a good finish behind him, Grant will look to challenge for the podium this weekend.
Kyle Chisholm also had a presence inside the top 10 at Unadilla. The veteran rider battled hard through each moto to finish the day with 12-7 moto scores, good enough to place him ninth overall. The solid finish also helped Chisholm maintain control of eighth in the championship, where he sits just 20 points out of seventh.
Team Honda Muscle Milk
Justin Brayton didn't have the afternoon he was hoping for at Unadilla. The Honda rider had to battle his way through the field in each moto, but fought hard to earn 15-10 moto results. While his efforts left him just outside the top 10 in 12th overall, Brayton salvaged valuable points as he battles with the JWR duo of Grant and Chisholm in the standings. After a pair of difficult weekends, Brayton will look for a return to the top 10 on Saturday.
Team Yoshimura Suzuki
James Stewart's return to the Nationals has had a little bit of everything and after spending an extended time away from competition, he returned to action at Unadilla in full health. Stewart looked like he was ready to make a return to the top of the podium after grabbing the lead early in the opening moto, but misfortune relegated him to ninth. In his efforts to finish on the podium in Moto 2, he experienced even more misfortune, ending his afternoon early and after suffering an injured finger, also ending his season.
It's been an up-and-down season for Davi Millsaps, but the new father has performed well since returning to action. At Unadilla, Millsaps put forth an impressive weekend, running at the front half of the field throughout the afternoon. Following a third-place effort to start the day, Millsaps followed it up with a fifth-place finish in Moto 2, resulting in fourth overall, just two points off the podium. Thanks to his efforts, Millsaps has returned to the top 10 in the 450 Class standings, currently sitting 10th.
Monster Energy/Pro Circuit/Kawasaki
After an impressive win at Southwick to assert his control of the 250 Class championship, Blake Baggett had a bit of an up-and-down day at Unadilla, missing out on the overall podium but still retaining control of the points. A strong first moto saw Baggett post a third-place finish that put him position to claim the overall. However, in the final moto, Baggett was only able to battle his way to a fifth-place finish, which is also where he would end up overall. Nevertheless, Baggett heads to Steel City with hopes of success. He currently holds a 24-point lead over Justin Barcia with just four motos remaining and would like nothing more than to add to his win total.
"Unadilla was a hard day at the office," said Baggett. "I didn't ride like myself and it cost me. I went back to California during the break and practiced on some hard-packed dirt and worked on getting back on the edge. I'm looking forward to Steel City, it should be good."
Justin Barcia's return to his home state of New York didn't go as well as he would have hoped, but the Honda rider didn't lose any ground to Baggett in the championship. After a seventh-place finish in the opening moto, Barcia had his work cut out for him if he was to challenge for a podium result. In Moto 2, Barcia responded, leading the first half of the moto and eventually finishing second to his teammate Eli Tomac. As a result, Barcia vaulted to fourth overall, tying Baggett for points on the day, but assuming the position by virtue of the second moto tiebreaker. He'll be looking to win on Saturday, aiming to keep his title hopes alive heading into the final round.
Eli Tomac came up just a couple points short of his fourth win of the season at Unadilla. The Colorado rider has come on strong in recent weeks and in New York, he rebounded from a sixth-place finish in the first moto to claim the second moto victory and the runner-up spot on the podium. Tomac has also closed in on his teammate Barcia in the 250 Class standings, sitting just four points out of second and 28 points away from Baggett in the lead. He finished second at Steel City last season.
Wil Hahn bounced back from a difficult outing at Southwick to return to the top 10 at Unadilla. The veteran rider was consistent, posting 9-8 moto scores which ultimately landed him seventh overall. Hahn currently has a firm grasp on sixth in the championship standings.
Red Bull KTM
After coming close on several occasions this season, Ken Roczen finally broke into the moto win column at Unadilla. The KTM rider has had a successful rookie season in the U.S., but prior to the previous round, had no wins to show for it. In New Berlin, Roczen dominated the opening moto and put himself in position for the overall win. While Moto 2 didn't bring the same success, Roczen relied on a sixth-place effort to land third overall, tying in points with Tomac for second, but just missing out by virtue of the second moto tiebreaker. With two rounds remaining, Roczen would like nothing more than a chance to savor an overall victory.
Marvin Musquin joined his teammate on the podium at Unadilla, but the Frenchman's success was in the form of his first career overall win on U.S. soil. While he didn't take the win in either moto, Musquin was the most consistent rider on the track, relying on his 2-3 moto scores to claim the victory and cap off a memorable day for his KTM team. With all the momentum coming into Steel City, Musquin is in search of continued success on a track that he finished third at just one year ago.
Rockstar Energy Racing Suzuki
Blake Wharton was hoping to return to the top 10 at Unadilla after a difficult outing at Southwick. In the first moto, Wharton was in position to do so, finishing fourth. However, in Moto 2, misfortune struck the Texas rider, relegating him to 33rd with a DNF, just missing out on the top 10 in 11th overall. Despite that, Wharton still occupies seventh in the championship, looking to fend off his teammate.
Jason Anderson's eighth-place overall finish at Unadilla (5-12) helped gain valuable ground on Wharton in the points. With only two rounds remaining, Anderson sits nine points out of seventh and is looking to keep the momentum going this weekend.
"(Unadilla) was decent," said Anderson. "I had a good first moto, then I crashed on the start of the second moto and came back to 12th. I have some stuff to work on and my plan is to come in to Steel City feeling good."
Troy Lee Designs/Lucas Oil Honda
Jessy Nelson enjoyed a top-10 finish at Unadilla, relying on 14-9 moto scores to finish 10th overall. As a result, the rookie rider still maintains control of ninth in the championship and is extending his advantage over his teammate as the season winds down.
Travis Baker has paced Nelson for most of the 2012 season, but at Unadilla he lost valuable ground after finishing 15th overall (16-14). Now, Baker's deficit sits at 21 points, but he will look to close the gap over the final two weekends.
A full day of live television coverage from Steel City begins on Saturday, September 1, with live first moto coverage of the 450 and 250 Classes on FUEL TV, beginning at 1:00 p.m. Eastern. Second moto coverage of both classes will be showcased live on NBC Sports Network, beginning at 3 p.m. Eastern.
Tickets for the remaining rounds of the 2012 Lucas Oil Pro Motocross Championship can be found at www.allisports.com.
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