The 2017 Lucas Oil Pro Motocross Championship series resumes on Saturday for Round 8 at Spring Creek in Millville, MN.
The second half of the season just began and with last weekend off it probably couldn't come at a better time for many riders struggling with injury and perhaps a bit of exhaustion for others following 14 Motos in two months.
After some early troubles to start the season Eli Tomac finally found fifth-gear rolling off five straight Moto wins and six of the last seven for a 19 point lead over Blake Baggett, his largest of the season. Tomac enters Spring Creek riding the Red Plate for just the third round this season but Millville is where the winning started for Tomac as he swept here as a rookie in 2015 for his first career 450 class win. Last year he had little in the tank for eventual 2016 Champion Ken Roczen as Tomac finished third overall losing on the tie-breaker to Marvin Musquin. No Roczen this year and Musquin isn't exactly 100 percent.
Meanwhile, Baggett boasts a string of Top 3 results dating from Moto 2 at Glen Helen with just one tumble in Moto 2 at RedBud where he hurt his thumb. Baggett rode well with the injury at Southwick but he didn't have much for Tomac finishing well behind in second-place for both Motos. A weekend off certainly helps his cause for a Championship run as it does Jason Anderson and Musquin who nurse some serious bumps and bruises.
Marvin Musquin (left) battled Eli Tomac (right) at Southwick until a crash ended his day
Anderson bowed out of Spring Creek altogether thanks to a practice crash a few days prior to Round 7 left him in no condition to ride. He's expected behind the gates on Saturday but the damage to his title hopes (and kidneys) might prove too much to overcome. Anderson's streak of five straight overall podiums also came to an end and the absence dropped him to fourth-place behind Musquin. Anderson now has three Motos netting zero points this year so his hole sinks pretty deep as he sits 75 points behind the leader.
Musquin on the other hand had a gnarly get-off in Moto 2 at Southwick that left his bike a crumpled mess. He managed his way back to the pits (and Motocross' version of a web gem) but no points. A fourth-place in Moto 1 helped salvage the day helping him move into third in the standings by three points but finding first-place, where he enjoyed after Round 3, requires some bread crumbs in the form of fallen parts off Tomac and Baggett's bike.
Hey, it's the second race preview in a row we're mentioning Dean Wilson, who took third at Southwick for his first podium in six years and first in the 450 class. He also continued his season-long Top 10 streak as he and Baggett represent the only riders without a single digit points gain. Wilson is having a career year and with Anderson's and Musquin's troubles last week, he's less than a Moto out of third-place in the standings.
Can Dean Wilson get on the podium at Spring Creek?
The season excitement of just a few weeks ago wanes a bit as the incidents to Musquin and Anderson have whittled a once four-man race to the 2017 title down to two as long as Tomac and Baggett stay on two wheels without mechanical issues.
Elsewhere, Broc Tickle, who grabbed a podium at High Point and sat squarely in the Top 5, is out for the season and Josh Grant who started with a bang finishing third in three-straight Motos had surgery on his knee earlier this month. He hasn't thrown in the towel on the season yet, however, he's dropped to 11th place after several crashes and mechanical issues ruined a number of Motos this year. No timeline on if and when he'll return.
Clear sailing ahead for Zach Osborne
In the 250 class, Zach Osborne is starting to ride away with his first Motocross Championship with five straight Top 2 Moto finishes and taking the last two overalls. Osborne holds a 45 point lead over Alex Martin and both riders represent the only two in the 250 class without a single digit points gain in a Moto. In fact, Martin hasn't finished below seventh-place and Osborne's lowest is eighth-place when he was sick at Thunder Valley. Take away that virus Osborne battled and you're probably sticking a fork in this Championship chase.
Martin's deficit isn't insurmountable but he needs more Moto wins than just the one he has this season. Behind Martin is his brother Jeremy Martin whose quest for three 250 class titles circles the drain. Jeremy sits 59 points out of first-place, a position he's yet to occupy this year and a spot he hasn't enjoyed since winning the 2015 Championship.
Alex Martin needs to get out front and stay out front if he's to tighten the points gap
But, Spring Creek is home, literally, to the Martins. And Jeremy didn't lay down last year to eventually 250 Champion Cooper Webb and took the overall so it's unlikely either Alex or Jeremy roll over for Osborne. Alex has yet to win a Moto at home and finally got a podium last year in third place. Lots of racing left but if the Martin's fail to capitalize this weekend with Osborne taking the win give him some silverware.
Elsewhere, Dylan Ferrandis jumped from eighth-place to fourth-place in the standings thanks to a career best second-place overall (including his second career Moto win) at Southwick and helped along by Aaron Plessinger and Austin Forkner both crashing out and netting zero points on the day. Ferrandis came close to his first career win losing the overall on the tie-breaker to Osborne.
Our Podium Picks for Spring Creek:
- Eli Tomac
- Marvin Musquin
- Blake Baggett
- Jeremy Martin
- Alex Martin
- Zach Osborne
It's gonna be a mudder! Just kidding. Rather warm and humid though. Gates drop for Moto 1 at 1 p.m. (CST). MAVTV airs the first Motos live but you'll have to wait until 10 p.m. (CST) to watch the delayed broadcast of Moto 2 for both classes on NBC Sports.
2017 Motocross Season Standings
- Eli Tomac (291)
- Blake Baggett (272)
- Marvin Musquin (219)
- Jason Anderson (216)
- Dean Wilson (198)
- Justin Bogle (183)
- Cole Seely (164)
- Weston Peick (150)
- Cooper Webb (147)
- Broc Tickle (146)
- Zach Osborne (301)
- Alex Martin (256)
- Jeremy Martin (242)
- Dylan Ferrandis (199)
- Joey Savatgy (195)
- Aaron Plessinger (190)
- Adam Ciacianrulo (186)
- Austin Forkner (184)
- Mitchell Harrison (176)
- Colt Nichols (168)