Weclome to Racerhead, after a well-deserved weekend off for all of the motocross world. Now, Lucas Oil Pro Motocross is back up and running in Minnesota, MXGP is back on the European continent in the Czech Republic, and amateurs all over America are getting their final prep in before the annual trek to Hurricane Mills, Tennessee. It was nice to have last weekend off for one big, collective breath….
When we left RedBud after a huge July Fourth weekend celebration of all things American motocross, the 450 Class title chase had been completely turned upside-down. What seemed like an Eli Tomac runaway and possible 12-and-0 season had been flipped to Marvin Musquin’s advantage. Eli’s bad luck in Michigan—a seizure in the first moto, a couple crashes in the second—was coupled with some very hard work on Marvin’s part. He crashed in the second turn of the first moto and passed his way back to second to salvage what he could, then was rewarded with the overall win after riding off with the lead in the last moto.
Still, I wouldn’t say all the momentum belongs to #25. Tomac’s bad luck has been just that—bad luck, not bad race craft. He’s had a weekend off to reset himself and get moving forward again, and he rides Spring Creek really well. He’s got five races—ten motos—to get back in front of Marvin, so I don’t see him hitting the panic button.
For his part, Musquin needs to just keep doing the same—as it all truly seemed lost to me when Marv went down in that second corner—but he didn’t panic, either. His methodical drive through the field would have been an all-time ride, had Ken Roczen not gotten a little more of his groove back and gone after a milestone win—his first outdoors on a Honda and his first since Ironman in 2016. I wouldn’t be surprised to see Roczen get an overall win before this season is over.
The 250 class Monster Energy/Yamalube/Star Racing’s Aaron Plessinger has been sporadic, though no more sporadic than a wildly inconsistent pack behind him. He’s 35 points clear of Troy Lee Designs/KTM’s Alex Martin, who is himself 47 points clear of the rookie Justin Cooper. With veterans like Zach Osborne and Jeremy Martin out with injuries, not to mention Adam Cianciarulo and Martin Davalos, and Joey Savatgy just not having much luck this summer, AP23 hasn’t had much to hold him back. He’s in the driver’s seat now.
I will say I will be quietly pulling for Alex Martin this week. He’s had tough luck come his way, too, and if not for a few untimely crashes, this thing would be much, much closer. I also just think it would be cool to see both Martin brothers be able to say, “I won my backyard race.” Besides, the trophies Greta Martin brings out for this race are amazing, and Alex really needs one for his house, too!
Finally, Spring Creek is the Martins’ back yard, but for more a decade, it was Ryan Dungey’s hometown race, too. Of course, he’s retired now and a lock on a first-time ballot for the AMA Motorcycle Hall of Fame, just as his primary rival Ryan Villopoto will be next year when it will be five years since he retired. Dungey always tied this race it to his River-2-River Run for St. Jude’s Children’s Hospital, and he’s doing it again this Sunday after race. He was named Grand Marshal for tomorrow’s race, and Ryan has been helping the Martins out with media all week and will be part on the broadcast tomorrow as well. Ryan is still the local hero in Minnesota, and he still acts like one, too. Here’s more on his role this weekend and Sunday’s run.
2019 SX Schedule (Matthes)
Well, I'm not exactly sure where the 2019 Monster Energy AMA Supercross schedule is. I think it's been pushed back three different times now. Normally the last few years it's released at Vegas, the final round. But this year it wasn't, and we in the media were given a few different dates on when it would come out, so truthfully, I didn't do a whole lot of digging on the where’s and when’s of the thing. But, I mean, it's been long enough, right?
So I sent a few texts to some team people and some riders and pieced together something to tweet out the other day. I'm not 100 percent on this but I think it's going to be fairly close. Looks like St Louis, Salt Lake City, Tampa and Boston could be out and New York (Met Life), Nashville, Detroit and Denver might be in. Dates are TBA and all the other cities stay the same.
Initial thoughts are that Nashville would be way cool; I think it'll be a hit. I was at the last Denver SX in '96 and there weren’t many people there, so hopefully that changes and it's not too cold. I'm surprised Tampa was one-and-done with Feld Motor Sports HQ located there, and I thought the crowd was okay. Detroit, well, nice stadium and it'll draw a good crowd, but the pit setup sucks. Oh, and no Toronto makes me sad… As a guy who’s been on the circuit for a number of years, two new cities will be great. Let's hope the real schedule with dates and stuff comes out soon.
CHAD REED? (DC)
It was cool seeing Chad Reed pop up at the newly-dubbed Fox Raceway at Pala. He was on a Honda, but plans are still up in the air for what exactly he's going to do for the 2019 Monster Energy AMA Supercross Championship. He's also moving out of his Florida training facility, which is still on the market. His wife Ellie posted a picture of his many trophies on Instagram:
Here's hoping one of the most prolific winners in the history of supercross finds a seat for 2019 and beyond—he's still got star power and speed.
SILLY SEASON (Matthes)
Not too many moves this year for the off-season. In the 250 class, most of the factory teams will stay the same, with Marty Davalos most likely re-signing at Monster PC and them adding Garret Marchbanks to replace Joey Savatgy, who's getting a 450 spot on the big Monster Kawi team alongside Eli Tomac.
GEICO Honda will add Hunter Lawrence, of course, who was at RedBud hanging out and watching. Troy Lee Designs/Red Bull KTM will add in amateur Mitchell Faulk and lose Alex Martin to the Autotrader/Yoshimura Suzuki team (new RM-Z250 coming out!). Monster Energy/Yamalube/Star Racing Yamaha will stay the same, although perhaps Aaron Plessinger moves to the big blue 450 team for MX. JGR will most likely keep Jimmy Decotis and Enzo Lopes, but it's not clear yet about Kyle Peters. Rockstar Energy Husqvarna’s 250s will be Jordan Bailey and Thomas Covington with one spot up for grabs, which one of their current guys, Michael Mosiman and Mitchell Harrison, will probably take.
In the 450 class, Honda's most likely going to bring Cole Seely back alongside Ken Roczen, and Seely is definitely not done, according to what he posted on his Instagram:
And as we said, it'll be Savatgy and Tomac with 450 rides. JGR Suzuki will have Weston Peick and Justin Hill on 450s, and Yamaha will most likely come to terms with Justin Barcia. That leaves a spot at Yamaha, which could be Dean Wilson or Dean Ferris in a bit of a surprise, because we think Cooper Webb will leave Yamaha for the open spot on Red Bull KTM alongside Marvin Musquin, but it's unclear if he'll join Aldon Baker's group. Jason Anderson and Zach Osborne will form Rockstar Energy Husqvarna's 450 spots. Smartop/Bullfrog Spas/MotoConcepts Honda will have Justin Brayton, probably Vince Friese, and one more spot that could go to Justin Bogle, Josh Grant (if he doesn't retire), Jake Weimer, or another wild card.
I think that's about it for the main OEM 450 and 250 teams—don't hold me to all this, but these are educated guesses as of right now.
Zoom Photography Contest (ANDREW FREDRICKSON)
Over at ESPN.com, there's a Zoom Photography Contest going on for X Games Minneapolis 2018. For this contest, they chose six of the best summer-focused images from the past 12 months of Zoom galleries to put to the ultimate test. Check them out here. There's even one moto-related image: Brody Wilson by MacKenzie Hennessey.
5 to 2 (Andras Hegyi)
This Saturday the Lucas Oil AMA Pro Motocross Championship is resuming after a two-week break at Spring Creek in Millville, Minnesota, home of Martin motocross family. The first seven rounds brought up a duel between Kawasaki’s Eli Tomac and KTM’s Marvin Musquin in the 450 championship. They are the only ones who have taken overall wins. Tomac got the first five wins, then Musquin took two victories. So the score is 5-2 for Tomac on wins, but the red plate is on points leader Musquin’s bike after a disastrous day for Eli in Michigan.
This 5-to-2 score is not a novelty in the history of the 250/450 Nationals. In the past, there were four other seasons where in the first seven rounds a pair of motocrossers had a 5-to-2 score. In 1981, Suzuki’s Kent Howerton and Yamaha’s Bob Hannah dueled, to Howerton’s advantage. In ’85, Kawasaki’s Jeff Ward and then-Yamaha rider Ricky Johnson fought, to Ward’s advantage. In ’96, there was a bout between Honda’s Jeremy McGrath and Yamaha’s Jeff Emig, with McGrath out front the most to that point. Finally, in 2012, it happened in a battle between Suzuki’s James Stewart and Red Bull KTM’s Ryan Dungey.
The ‘81 season had eight rounds. During the whole season, Howerton was more competitive and consistent than the Hurricane, who was coming off a season on the sideline with a broken leg. Howerton ended up collecting his second consecutive 250cc motocross title.
The ‘85 season consisted of ten rounds. That year was one of those legendary battle royales between Ward and Johnson. In last three rounds, both Ward and Johnson could pick up only two podiums, as Honda’s Johnny O’Mara and Bob Hannah came on strong, but late. The Flying Freckle managed to become champion by 18 points over O’Mara.
In 1996, one of the most exciting duels happened in the history of the series. The 13-round season was about a fight between two longtime rivals, Jeremy McGrath and Jeff Emig. The King of Supercross marched on for a long time, and after nine rounds, he had six wins. “Showtime” had also a big points lead. But in the tenth round, McGrath suffered a foot injury. Because of that injury, McGrath pulled off in the second moto of the 11th round. Thanks to that incident, Emig took over the points lead that McGrath could not take back anymore. The last two rounds became a thriller. First, McGrath managed to win again in the 12th round, but in the final round at Steel City the winner was Emig, and he became champion too.
In 2012, Stewart started the season with lightning speed, as Bubba was perfect in the first two rounds by winning all four motos. But at the third round, Bubba was injured, crashing on a fast downhill sweeper in Colorado. He was only able to get one podium after that. Dungey took control, dominating the season with ten wins in a row. Dungey’s title was also KTM’s first title in the premier class in the U.S.
Hey, Watch It!
How stoked are the French on defending their Motocross of Nations crown? Check out the video of their introduction... Not of the team, but just the official jersey.
What's in the bag? With our buddy Dano Legere and OGIO.
Check out professional golfer and lifelong motocross enthusiast Rickie Fowler's new Rolex commercial, where he talks about motocross shaped his game on the links.
And our longtime friend Larry Hughes from Texas just posted this on Vital MX:
I was the lead instructor at Rio Bravo in Houston this past week for the FCA Motocross Camp. We had 65 campers. From ages 4 to over 40. CNN was there doing a story on a Military Mom and her son that were taking the camp while the Dad is on duty in Afghanistan. It will air on HLN Morning Express with Robin Meade either July 31 or August 7.
Head-Scratching Headlines of the Week
"MAGA baby born in Chick-Fil-A Bathroom" —Drudgereport.com
"Why Are 'Thousands' of Teslas Sitting In a Field in California?" —Zerohedge.com, in a story about Elon Musk "melting down"
And some ads we couldn’t get away with today:
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That's it for this week. Thanks for reading Racerhead—see you at the races.