The Fourth of July weekend means only one thing: Red Buuuuuud!
Indeed, the centerpiece round of the 2017 Lucas Oil Pro Motocross Championship series is Saturday at the RedBud National in Buchanan, MI.
Racing remains close, it's competitive and tensions rising as Blake Baggett hangs on to the Red Plate in the 450 class for another round but by just four points. Last week at Tennessee, Eli Tomac got a Moto 2 win and claimed the overall on a tie-breaker against Jason Anderson who got his first Moto 1 of the year and continues to climb his way back into Championship contention after an opening round DNF.
Baggett kept his podium streak alive, starting with Glen Helen and including overalls the previous two rounds, taking third but some construed inflammatory comments by Baggett the week prior about Tomac, his dad and a trainer (sounds like a new comedy series debuting on ABC this fall!) led to a fidgety post-race press conference and little eye contact as Tomac let his racing do the talking and Anderson seemingly taking some joy in the fray.
Blake Baggett rides the Red Plate at RedBud but feeling the heat from Eli Tomac
Anderson brings a podium streak of his own stepping on the box every round since Glen Helen and if you give him those missing points from Moto 1 to open the season - even conservative numbers - he's right behind Baggett in the standings. He did qualify second that day, you know.
So the Top 3 guys have ruled the previous three Motos and only Tomac remains from the Top 3 guys to rule the first three Motos. Marvin Musquin grabbed the Red Plate after Glen Helen and held on to it through Thunder Valley but a torn meniscus diagnosed prior to High Point and a brake issue in the final Moto last week drops him from first to fourth and now 34 points from the Championship lead.
Musquin's point totals the last two rounds also just 34. He says his knee feels much better but he requires some early round magic to get back into the thick of things. Josh Grant also started the season on fire but some bike issues and crashes have dropped him from third to 10th and more or less out of title contention as the season nears the midway point.
Back to winning - another overall at RedBud gives Eli Tomac his first consecutive victories this season
Elsewhere, the last time Justin Bogle finished 12-5 he followed with his first career Moto win. So that's in the cards for him this weekend at RedBud but he's more or less looked mid-pack since his Moto 1 win at Thunder Valley. Weston Peick might help mix it up this weekend after posting two fourth-place finishes and dare we mention Trey Canard? The fast but oft-injured rider broke into the Top 20 for points taking 12th overall (10-11) in his return to racing last week. He was not expected back until RedBud so perhaps with a "stretch" round under his belt he's ready to compete for Top 5s.
Tomac and Broc Tickle finished behind Ken Roczen last year at RedBud with a healthy Musquin taking fifth overall in his rookie year and Baggett in sixth while Anderson's season ended early from injury. Tomac, Ryan Dungey and Canard went 2-3-4 in 2014 while tying in points. Don't expect Tomac to finish behind anyone this year.
RedBud is Tickle's home race, which helps explain his third-place last year, and also Nick Wey's who behind the sponsorship of MotoSport is taking a brief pause from retirement and as a track flagger to race on Saturday. Speaking of Tickle, he didn't follow-up his third-place overall at High Point with another solid effort in Tennessee instead finishing 10th thus making our podium picks last week look, well, weak. So he gets another shot at redemption (at least from us) and if you didn't know, he's in fifth in the standings with a weakened Musquin just 21 points away.
Aaron Plessinger got the win monkey off his back last week, can he make it two straight?
In the 250 class, Aaron Plessinger rides into RedBud on the heels of a dominating first Moto win and overall of the season. He's kept pace with points leader Zach Osborne the last two rounds netting 87 points to Osborne's 88 and moved into fourth-place in the standings, up from eighth after Round 3.
Osborne (5-1) finished second overall in Tennessee edging Plessinger by about 4 seconds in Moto 2 for the win while Austin Forkner (3-3) got his first podium of the year. Osborne hasn't won an overall since Glen Helen but it's hardly impacted his points total since he's stretched his lead to 31 over Alex Martin who moved back into second-place after giving the runner-up spot to his brother Jeremy Martin after High Point. Jeremy Martin got tangled in a first turn pile up in Tennessee stranding him in 13th for Moto 1 and he salvaged a ninth overall after taking sixth in Moto 2. He's in third now with Plessinger just six points back.
Who needs wins? Zach Osborne has just two Motos wins in the last eight Motos but keeps extending his points lead
Alex Martin, Osborne and Jeremy Martin went 2-3-4 last year behind Cooper Webb who moved to the 450 class this year. Expect more of the same this year from those three but everyone bumped up a spot.
Our Podium Picks for RedBud:
- Eli Tomac
- Jason Anderson
- Broc Tickle
- Alex Martin
- Zach Osborne
- Jeremy Martin
Check out the track map for Round 6:
Moto 1 gates for the RedBud National drop at 10 a.m. (PST) on Saturday in Buchanan, MI. MAVTV provides live coverage of Moto 1 for both classes while NBC Sports airs Moto 2 for both classes live starting at 12 p.m. (PST).
2017 Motocross Season Standings
- Blake Baggett (195)
- Eli Tomac (191)
- Jason Anderson (176)
- Marvin Musquin (161)
- Broc Tickle (139)
- Justin Bogle (137)
- Dean Wilson (137)
- Weston Peick (112)
- Cooper Webb (112)
- Josh Grant (106)
- Zach Osborne (207)
- Alex Martin (176)
- Jeremy Martin (171)
- Aaron Plessinger (165)
- Austin Forkner (159)
- Adam Ciacianrulo (147)
- Joey Savatgy (144)
- Colt Nichols (124)
- Dylan Ferrandis (118)
- Mitchell Harrison (111)