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Saturday Night Live: Ironman

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It’s fitting that in a 450MX season of Lucas Oil Pro Motocross that provided unexpected twists and turns, the finale at Ironman Raceway in Crawfordsville, Indiana, added several more surprises. It led to a dramatic and tense end to the championship, which ultimately went to Monster Energy Kawasaki’s Eli Tomac, but not without a few more heart stopping moments. For Tomac, his first 450 Championship was won the hard way, with win streaks, crashes, bad luck, and many questions over his ability to lock the title down. But Tomac summed up all that talk after the race, saying, “It doesn’t matter now, because we got it done.”

“It’s sinking in,” says Tomac. “You know it really sinks in when you think back to the beginning when you’re five or six years old and you’re watching guys on TV, and when you’re here looking at this trophy and looking at those names, it’s pretty unbelievable. It feels like it’s been a long time coming.”

The unexpected twist came in the form of Jeffrey Herlings, the fast Dutchman from the MXGP World Motocross Championship that showed up for his first-ever round of Lucas Oil Pro Motocross and straight-up slayed everyone—he was fastest by a long way in both  practices and then went 1-1 in the motos. He even came from just about last to first in the second moto. It was crazy! Herlings said the goal was to not mess up the championship for anyone, but he ended up playing a factor when he took the lead from Tomac in the first moto … and Tomac tried to come back after him! That was a bad move, because Tomac went down and suddenly the championship flashed right before his eyes.

Herlings went 1-1 in his first-ever Lucas Oil Pro Motocross National.
Herlings went 1-1 in his first-ever Lucas Oil Pro Motocross National. Rich Shepherd

“I honestly think my ego got the best of me,” said Tomac. “I was right behind Jeffrey there and he made a bobble and he even looked over at me a little bit, and I was like 'Alright game on.' I went to go to the outside on that triple there, I kind of flew off the track, wadded it up, bent my clutch lever down. I was in a really good position to seal it and I didn’t do it. I gave those guys another shot for moto two. Wasn’t a happy camper going back to the truck for moto two.”

Tomac got up in fifth and needed fourth in moto one to wrap up the title. He knew fourth-place Cole Seely held the spot, but with his bent clutch lever he couldn’t find the form to get close to him. He ended up one-point short of wrapping up the title, sending the championship down to the final moto. He got a bad start there but held on for sixth, enough to finally ice the championship.

Herlings was the fastest man of the day, but Marvin Musquin and Blake Baggett, who still had shots at the championship, gave it everything they could to get it done. Once Tomac crashed in moto one Marvin made a run at Herlings and caught him at the halfway mark, then Herlings pulled back away for the win. Baggett took third. Marvin wrestled the lead away from Baggett at the start of moto two while Herlings was down early in about last. Herlings came all the way back through to take second, but Musquin had a ten-second lead on him with two laps to go until he crashed all by himself on a jump and handed the lead over. Remarkably, Herlings had gone 1-1 despite a first-lap crash in the second moto!

Several riders had their shot at Herlings today. Tomac even admitted that his ego clouded his championship vision a little bit in the first moto.
Several riders had their shot at Herlings today. Tomac even admitted that his ego clouded his championship vision a little bit in the first moto. Rich Shepherd

“It’s hard to say [what to expect coming into the race] everything was new so that’s why I rode the press day to get used to the track,” said Herlings. “Back home we have all Saturday and practice time so by the time it’s race time, you’ve already got an hour or two on the bike or something. At home things are pretty chill, you just enter the track like while the practice is already going. Here it’s like a race. It’s two different worlds. My expectations? I don’t know. When we came here we didn’t know what to expect. I thought Eli would be fast, Marvin would be fast, Blake, and also guys like Barcia, Bogle, all those guys. I didn’t know what to expect. Anything within top five I would be happy with. I went out and put in top time in the first practice and top time in the second practice, and then I was like “Okay if we can get some decent starts I could come out on top.” First moto got a decent start was second, got into the lead on the second lap, had a good battle with Marvin but managed to win the moto. Second moto I made it a little bit tough, washed the front end in a corner on the first lap and went down. Had to come from dead last. Obviously I was a bit lucky with Marvin making a small mistake, he actually give the win to me. It’s racing. I crashed, so did he, it’s racing.”

Herlings is known as a combustible personality, but despite his dominance he resisted any chance of boasting. “I have a lot of respect for everyone,” he said. “It was a pleasure to come here and to go home with a 1-1 was pretty amazing.”

Musquin went second overall with 2-2 scores, he had the overall in the bag until his last second-moto crash—Herlings was closing but would have run out of time. Marvin has shown a new propensity this year to hang it out on his 450, and that was on display more than ever today—especially when he got up late in moto two and Herlings was just ahead of him. Musquin absolutely sent it on the final two laps, but couldn’t get back into striking distance.

Musquin led for the majority of the second moto before making a mistake with two laps to go.
Musquin led for the majority of the second moto before making a mistake with two laps to go. Rich Shepherd

“I was just trying my best,” said Musquin. “The last few rounds it was like I had nothing to lose and I had to just try to win races and today was the same. I just wanted to try to win the race and try to get second in the championship. Riding wise, the first moto I felt good because I knew Jeffrey was really fast in practice, but I was feeling more comfortable so to be able to put in some good lap times and close in on Jeffrey, that was pretty cool. He was really consistent. Second moto I just made a mistake with two laps to go. It’s good to see that the riding has been good.”

“I just tried to get good starts,” said Baggett, who went 3-3, of his attempts to somehow take the title from Baggett, and hold off Marvin for second in the standings. “ I know Marv was on a roll so I just knew I needed to ride my best and just be there. Came up a little bit short. I’m proud of myself that I was able to grind through the injury and keep pushing. Me and Marv didn’t get the title but we were able to bring it down to the last moto.”

Cole Seely continued his strong riding to end the season with 4-4 scores and fourth overall, Cooper Webb was fifth, Tomac was sixth.

Seely finished fourth overall in his final race before his Team USA debut at the 2017 Motocross of Nations.
Seely finished fourth overall in his final race before his Team USA debut at the 2017 Motocross of Nations. Rich Shepherd

In the 250s, the title had already been sewn up by Zach Osborne, but that only helped him ride better and pressure-free. He dominated with 1-1 scores, getting the better of Adam Cianciarulo in both races. Cianciarulo followed his overall win last weekend by getting two good starts today and leading both races early, but Osborne got around him and took off in both races. Jeremy Martin was also in the hunt, but Cianciarulo accidentally crashed into him in moto one and knocked him down. He finished eighth, and came back to outduel Colt Nichols for third in moto two. Nichols, though, scored his first career podium with 3-4 scores.

“We worked on some things for the starts, some things I was struggling with and I made it easy on myself,” said Osborne about finally getting two good starts on the day. “I don’t feel like I’m a back-it-down kind of guy so I just tried to race like I normally do.”

Osborne finally got some good starts at the final round of the season. He'll need them at the MXoN where the 250s and 450s will ride the track at the same time.
Osborne finally got some good starts at the final round of the season. He'll need them at the MXoN where the 250s and 450s will ride the track at the same time. Rich Shepherd

“Yeah that’s what I wanted [podiums] at the start of the season of course but I had some ups and downs, It seems like if you’re off two pecent your back in 7-8-9, those guys are still fast there,” said Cianciarulo. “I think a lot of it was mental. It’s just coming in here knowing you’re going to be on the podium and knowing you’re going to get good starts. Didn’t battle with Zach much today, he pretty much took us to school.”

Nichols started the season hot as a podium contender, then fell back in the pack at mid season. He credits major bike changes recently for his turnaround—his fifth in moto two last week was his best since round two, and then he improved further this week for a podium. “I have to thank Dylan Ferrandis I rode his bike and I was like “Wow that’s a lot better,” he said. “People kind of put me as more of a supercross guy but we’ve figure out a lot with the bike and I think this is where I believed I could be.”

Nichols earned his best career finish at a round of Lucas Oil Pro Motocross with 3-4 scores being good enough for third overall.
Nichols earned his best career finish at a round of Lucas Oil Pro Motocross with 3-4 scores being good enough for third overall. Rich Shepherd

Hard luck of the race had to be Chase Sexton, who had been saying all year that he just wanted to get a good start and see what he could do. He finally got one in the first moto and battled hard with fellow rookie Sean Cantrell for fourth, then took third when Martin went down. He held up under pressure from Nichols until two laps to go, moto podium in sight, when he crashed into a lapped rider. Nichols slipped by, then Sexton crashed again a few turns later. He finished the moto in tenth. In the second moto, his teammate RJ Hampshire was putting the pressure on and Sexton bobbled, then they bounced into each other and Sexton went off the track. He ended the moto in sixth.

Martin's 8-3 gave him fourth, and Mitchell Harrison took a solid fifth overall.

250 Class Overall

Position Rider Hometown Motos Machine
1 Zach Osborne Zach Osborne Abingdon, VA 1 - 1 Husqvarna FC250
2 Adam Cianciarulo Adam Cianciarulo Port Orange, FL 2 - 2 Kawasaki KX 250F
3 Colt Nichols Colt Nichols Muskogee, OK 3 - 4 Yamaha YZ 250F
4 Jeremy Martin Jeremy Martin Millville, MN 8 - 3 Honda CRF250R
5 Mitchell Harrison Mitchell Harrison Lansing, MI 5 - 8 Yamaha YZ 250F
6 Chase Sexton Chase Sexton La Moille, IL 10 - 6 Honda CRF250R
7 R.J. Hampshire R.J. Hampshire Hudson, FL 12 - 5 Honda CRF250R
8 Sean Cantrell Sean Cantrell Murrieta, CA 6 - 12 KTM 250 SX-F FE
9 Justin Hill Justin Hill Yoncalla, OR 11 - 9 Kawasaki KX 250F
10 Bradley Taft Bradley Taft Nixa, MO 7 - 13 Yamaha YZ 250F
11 Justin Cooper Justin Cooper Cold Spring Harbor, NY 16 - 7 Yamaha YZ 250F
12 Nick Gaines Nick Gaines Ringgold, GA 13 - 10 Yamaha YZ 250F
13 Kyle Cunningham Kyle Cunningham Aledo, TX 9 - 14 Suzuki RMZ 250
14 Aaron Plessinger Aaron Plessinger Hamilton, OH 4 - 40 Yamaha YZ 250F
15 Lorenzo Locurcio Lorenzo Locurcio Cairo, GA 14 - 11 Yamaha YZ 250F
16 Luke Renzland Luke Renzland Hewitt, NJ 15 - 15 Yamaha YZ 250F
17 Gustavo Souza Gustavo Souza Brazil 25 - 16 Honda CRF250R
18 Jon Ames Jon Ames Riverside, CA 36 - 17 Yamaha YZ 250F
19 Dylan Wright Dylan Wright Canada 20 - 18 Honda CRF250R
20 Steven Clarke Steven Clarke Cairo, GA 17 - 39 KTM 250 SX-F
21 Jayce Pennington Jayce Pennington Walnut Hill, IL 18 - 22 Yamaha YZ 250F
22 Joey Crown Joey Crown Metamora, MI 21 - 19 Kawasaki KX 250F
23 Cody Williams Cody Williams Barneveld, WI 19 - 38 Yamaha YZ 250F
24 Cody Vanbuskirk Cody Vanbuskirk Harvard, IL 24 - 20 KTM 250 SX-F
25 Jeremy Hand Jeremy Hand Mantua, OH 22 - 21 Honda CRF250R
26 Austin Root Austin Root Chester, SC 23 - 23 Husqvarna FC250
27 Cheyenne Harmon Cheyenne Harmon Ovilla, TX 28 - 26 Suzuki RMZ 250
28 Jarett Pesci Jarett Pesci Shelby Twp, MI 26 - 28 Yamaha YZ 250F
29 Cody Chisholm Cody Chisholm Seminole, FL 29 - 27 Kawasaki KX 250F
30 Jimmy Weeks Jimmy Weeks Fort Pierce, FL 34 - 24 Yamaha YZ 250F
31 Greg Durivage Greg Durivage Waterville, OH 31 - 29 KTM 250 SX-F
32 Timothy Crosby Timothy Crosby Confluence, PA 30 - 31 Yamaha YZ 250F
33 Jesse Kirchmeyer Jesse Kirchmeyer 33 - 30 KTM 250 SX-F FE
34 Lane Shaw Lane Shaw 27 - 37 Honda CRF250R
35 Dakota Kessler Dakota Kessler Farmingdale, NJ 40 - 25 Honda CRF250R
36 Luke Hempen Luke Hempen Argyle, IA 32 - 33 Yamaha YZ 250F
37 Alexander Nagy Alexander Nagy Richmond, IL 37 - 32 Suzuki RMZ 250
38 Justin Wolf Justin Wolf franklin, WI 35 - 35 Kawasaki KX 250F
39 Steve Roman Steve Roman Apollo, PA 38 - 34 Suzuki RMZ 250
40 Hunter Sayles Hunter Sayles Merrill, WI 39 - 36 KTM 250 SX
Full Results
Position Rider Hometown Points
1 Zach Osborne Zach Osborne Abingdon, VA 501
2 Jeremy Martin Jeremy Martin Millville, MN 420
3 Adam Cianciarulo Adam Cianciarulo Port Orange, FL 374
4 Aaron Plessinger Aaron Plessinger Hamilton, OH 337
5 Joey Savatgy Joey Savatgy Thomasville, GA 324
6 Dylan Ferrandis Dylan Ferrandis Avignon, France 305
7 Colt Nichols Colt Nichols Muskogee, OK 303
8 Alex Martin Alex Martin Millville, MN 296
9 Mitchell Harrison Mitchell Harrison Lansing, MI 279
10 Shane Mcelrath Shane Mcelrath Canton, NC 248
Full Standings
Position Rider Hometown Motos Machine
1 Jeffrey Herlings Jeffrey Herlings Geldrop, Netherlands 1 - 1 KTM 450 SX-F FE
2 Marvin Musquin Marvin Musquin La Reole, France 2 - 2 KTM 450 SX-F FE
3 Blake Baggett Blake Baggett Grand Terrace, CA 3 - 3 KTM 450 SX-F FE
4 Cole Seely Cole Seely Newbury Park, CA 4 - 4 Honda CRF450R
5 Cooper Webb Cooper Webb Newport, NC 6 - 5 Yamaha YZ 450F
6 Eli Tomac Eli Tomac Cortez, CO 5 - 6 Kawasaki KX 450F
7 Weston Peick Weston Peick Wildomar, CA 7 - 8 Suzuki RMZ 450
8 Christian Craig Christian Craig Hemet, CA 9 - 7 Honda CRF450R
9 Justin Bogle Justin Bogle Cushing, OK 11 - 9 Suzuki RMZ 450
10 Dean Wilson Dean Wilson Scotland, United Kingdom 12 - 10 Husqvarna FC450
11 Justin Barcia Justin Barcia Monroe, NY 10 - 13 Suzuki RMZ 450
12 Matt Bisceglia Matt Bisceglia Weatherford, TX 15 - 11 Suzuki RMZ 450
13 Henry Miller Henry Miller Rochester, MN 16 - 12 Yamaha YZ 450F
14 Fredrik Noren Fredrik Noren Lidköping, Sweden 13 - 15 Honda CRF450R
15 Benny Bloss Benny Bloss Oak Grove, MO 8 - 28 KTM 450 SX-F FE
16 Kyle Chisholm Kyle Chisholm Clearwater, FL 18 - 16 Honda CRF450R
17 John Short John Short Pilot Point, TX 21 - 14 Yamaha YZ 450F
18 Dakota Alix Dakota Alix Jay, VT 17 - 18 KTM 450 SX-F FE
19 Phil Nicoletti Phil Nicoletti Cochecton, NY 14 - 38 Suzuki RMZ 450
20 Ben LaMay Ben LaMay Anchorage, AK 20 - 17 KTM 450 SX-F FE
21 Josh Mosiman Josh Mosiman Sebastopol, CA 25 - 19 Husqvarna FC450
22 Heath Harrison Heath Harrison Silverhill, AL 19 - 23 KTM 450 SX-F
23 Isaac Teasdale Isaac Teasdale Robbinsville, NC 22 - 20 KTM 450 SX-F
24 Zack Williams Zack Williams Elko, MN 24 - 22 Honda CRF450R
25 Toshiki Tomita Toshiki Tomita Kanazawa, Japan 26 - 21 Honda CRF450R
26 Jared Lesher Jared Lesher Elderton, PA 29 - 24 KTM 350 SX-F
27 Vann Martin Vann Martin Houston, TX 28 - 26 Honda CRF450R
28 Ronnie Stewart Ronnie Stewart Easton, PA 23 - 31 Suzuki RMZ 450
29 Dakota Tedder Dakota Tedder Surfside, CA 32 - 25 Kawasaki KX 450F
30 Eric Grondahl Eric Grondahl Portsmouth, NH 34 - 27 Honda CRF450R
31 Austin Wagner Austin Wagner Niles, MI 30 - 33 Honda CRF450R
32 Jacob Runkles Jacob Runkles Sykesville, MD 35 - 29 KTM 450 SX-F
33 Brandon Scharer Brandon Scharer Gardena, CA 27 - 37 Yamaha YZ 450F
34 Theodore Pauli Theodore Pauli Edwardsville, IL 31 - 35 Kawasaki KX 450F
35 Joseph Perron Joseph Perron Elko, MN 38 - 30 Kawasaki KX 450F
36 Michael Akaydin Michael Akaydin Louisville, KY 36 - 32 KTM 450 SX-F
37 Jake Loberg Jake Loberg Ham Lake, MN 37 - 34 Husqvarna FC450
38 Samuel Redman Samuel Redman Clarksville, TN 33 - 39 Kawasaki KX 450F
39 Carson Tickle Carson Tickle Cary, NC 39 - 36 Honda CRF450R
40 Nick Fratz Nick Fratz Oakland, MD 40 - 40 KTM 450 SX-F
Full Results
Position Rider Hometown Points
1 Eli Tomac Eli Tomac Cortez, CO 470
2 Marvin Musquin Marvin Musquin La Reole, France 453
3 Blake Baggett Blake Baggett Grand Terrace, CA 451
4 Dean Wilson Dean Wilson Scotland, United Kingdom 340
5 Cole Seely Cole Seely Newbury Park, CA 330
6 Justin Bogle Justin Bogle Cushing, OK 308
7 Weston Peick Weston Peick Wildomar, CA 268
8 Cooper Webb Cooper Webb Newport, NC 268
9 Martin Davalos Martin Davalos Quito, Ecuador 263
10 Jason Anderson Jason Anderson Edgewood, NM 216
Full Standings