Championships on the line for Saturday as the 2017 Lucas Oil Pro Motocross Championship series holds the penultimate Round 11 at Budds Creek in Mechanicsville, MD.
With 100 Championship points remaining in the season Eli Tomac no longer carries a solid lead in his quest for the 450 class title while Zach Osborne, who stepped on the podium the last seven rounds, is all but a sure bet to wrap up the 250 class title.
In the mud fest held last week at Unadilla, Tomac put in a somewhat mediocre effort finishing ninth overall including a 10th place finish in Moto 1 after running out of goggle tear-offs. The Tomac who emerged mid-season winning six of seven Motos between High Point and Southwick - almost turning the season into a runaway - hasn't won any of the last six Motos and his big drop off the podium last week turned the series back to a three-man race to the finish.
Eli Tomac should have an easier time on Saturday at Budds Creek compared to the mudder at Unadilla
Blake Baggett hovers just 27 points behind Tomac but the bigger story is Marvin Musquin who was 72 points behind just three rounds ago and after six straight Moto wins knock, knock, knocks on Championship's door. Musquin gained 23 points on Tomac last week alone and is now 31 points from first and just four behind Baggett who held a comfortable 53 point cushion over Musquin after Southwick.
Though Musquin benefitted from the shortened Motos because of weather last week, nevertheless, no one has had much in the tank for him since he started ripping off checkers. Actually, Musquin looks more like a Championship leader putting a big fat stamp on the title by winning out which he can do but still finish runner-up to Tomac. It remains Tomac's Championship to lose of course and if Pro Motocross manages to bookend this 2017 racing season in glorious fashion expect a wild finish to the end.
Musquin brings history on his side to Budds Creek taking third overall last year losing the tie-breaker to Justin Barcia while Tomac finished fourth. The year prior, Musquin grabbed the overall in the 250 class taking the tie-breaker over Alex Martin. Tomac took third overall at Budds Creek in 2014 taking the tie-breaker over Trey Canard, his only time on the podium for the 450 class. In 2013, Baggett and Tomac traded 250 class Moto wins but Baggett easily grabbed the overall with a second-place Moto 2 finish with Tomac taking fifth in Moto 1.
Marvin Musquin rode through thick and thin last week for the sweep. Can he continue his winning streak at Budds Creek?
Regardless of whether Tomac puts added pressure on himself with more Unadilla-like results compared to his aggressive Washougal riding, where he finished a well-managed second overall behind Musquin in both Motos, four races remain and it's not just Musquin he's competing against. In the last two rounds, Martin Davalos, Cooper Webb and Cole Seely all have season-highs of third or higher in a Moto as Seely took third overall at Unadilla, his first career 450 class podium and Davalos reached career highs by taking third overall at Washougal and second overall last week on the tie-breaker over Seely. Plus don't forget Dean Wilson, also a podium contender who continues his season-long Top 10 finish streak he shares with Baggett.
Clear skies ahead for Zach Osborne who should wrap up the 250 class Championship on Saturday
In the 250 class, Zach Osborne holds a 63 point lead over Jeremy Martin and the script looks pre-written for Osborne to clinch where his career seemingly derailed 11 years ago. In 2006, when Budds Creek was Round 4, Osborne was alone out front in Moto 1 with the clock winding down before fading to 18th. He didn't even start in Moto 2 and eventually he hopped the pond for a career restart in Europe.
Ultimately, it took him 10 years to get his first overall win coming last year at, where else, Budds Creek. He snatched the Supercross 250SX East title on the last lap in May and he's reached the podium every round this season (seven Moto wins; one sweep) for Outdoors, except at Thunder Valley when he finished a not-too-shabby fifth overall considering he was sick.
Martin has three Moto wins this year and no sweeps. He'll need a really sick Osborne on Saturday to keep this title fight alive. Conversely, Osborne netted 12 points against Osborne after Moto 2 at RedBud, the largest gain of any Moto this season and what he needs to make Moto 2 on Saturday a victory lap.
Much of this made possible by Alex Martin's practice crash a few weeks ago that dropped him from second-place, 43 points out following Southwick to completely out of contention after missing the last two rounds. His departure allowed Jeremy to move in on his hunt for a third 250 class Championship but too many rough outings this season, a DNF to start the year and a now rising Joey Savatgy might prove too much to overcome. Savatgy has three of the last six Moto wins and while mathematically still in the Championship chase has a better shot at second-place for the year since he's just 26 points back of the second-place Martin.
Our Podium Picks for Budds Creek:
- Marvin Musquin
- Cole Seely
- Eli Tomac
- Zach Osborne
- Jeremy Martin
- Joey Savatgy
Check out the track map for Round 11:
The gates at Budds Creek drop at 1 p.m. (EST) on Saturday in Mechanicsville, MD. MAVTV broadcasts Moto 1 for both classes live while NBC airs Moto 2 for the 450 class live at 3 p.m. (EST) and NBC Sports Network tape-delays the 250 class Moto 2 at 7 p.m. (EST). So HERE'S HOPING Osborne clinches the title after Moto 1 if you want to see the celebration live rather than Memorex. That's really going to tick some people off, isn't?
2017 Motocross Season Standings
- Eli Tomac (400)
- Blake Baggett (373)
- Marvin Musquin (369)
- Dean Wilson (299)
- Cole Seely (263)
- Martin Davalos (243)
- Justin Bogle (241)
- Jason Anderson (216)
- Weston Peick (213)
- Cooper Webb (211)
- Zach Osborne (413)
- Jeremy Martin (350)
- Joey Savatgy (324)
- Dylan Ferrandis (299)
- Alex Martin (296)
- Aaron Plessinger (285)
- Adam Cianciarulo (283)
- Colt Nichols (235)
- Mitchell Harrison (229)
- Shane McElrath (210)