Blake Baggett brings the Red Plate badge to Muddy Creek on Saturday for Round 5 of the 2017 Lucas Oil Pro Motocross Championship series in Blountville, TN as he attempts to keep momentum on his side and add to his points lead.
Baggett, riding his third year in the 450 class, continues to make personal history this season with his first Moto win, first overall and now riding the Red Plate heading into the Tennessee National after a dominating (1-2) punch for the overall last week at High Point. His line for the last five Motos is an impressive 2-3-1-1-2 and he now holds an eight point margin over Marvin Musquin, who Baggett trailed by 26 after Round 2.
Musquin meanwhile has a tough road ahead. He was once considered a minor threat to Eli Tomac's expected title run then thrust into the Championship spotlight with his first career 450 class Moto win and overall at Glen Helen where he grabbed the points lead but now a torn meniscus throws a wrench into his title hopes and perhaps his season. He managed a well-fought 11th overall including finishing sixth in Moto 2 last week but he just made the Top 5 at Muddy Creek last year and those tight 180 degree turns might prove difficult on a bum knee.
Eli Tomac needs more wins to counter an inconsistent season
Speaking of Tomac, he won his first Moto last week since the opening round and it wasn't even close as Baggett rolled across 20 seconds after Tomac dropped the checkers. But a crash on Lap 1 in Moto 1 put him in the back of the pack and he climbed only to 12th giving him fourth overall on the day. If Moto 2 provided a glimpse then the Tomac everyone expected this year might finally take charge despite his last five Motos looking more up-and-down than a ship navigating a storm on the open sea: 19-7-2-12-1. Tomac finished (2-2) last year at Muddy Creek and kept it close in both Motos to Ken Roczen who was firing on all cylinders that season.
Is it Broc Tickle's turn for a Top 3 Moto finish this weekend at Muddy Creek?
Tennessee might very well keep the round robin of podium appearances alive as Brock Tickle shows signs of contending life and last year at Muddy Creek took third overall winning the tie-breaker over Cole Seely. So far this year seven different riders have finished third-place or higher for individual Motos except Tickle, but he still managed a third-place overall last week with two fourth-place finishes and his first overall podium of the season.
Seely feels ripe for a Top 3 but he continues to ride with a sore adductor muscle and his best finish thus far was fourth to open the year. Unfortunately, we don't get to see what Dean Ferris, defending Australian Nationals MX1 Champion and current points leader in that series, might offer since he returns Down Under after placing second in Moto 1 last week and finishing seventh overall in his first American Motocross appearance.
However, rookie Cooper Webb finished first overall at Tennessee last year on his way to the 250 Championship and appears ready to roll in the Top 5 finishing 4-6-5 in the last three Motos for his best stretch of the year. Only Baggett, Tomac and Jason Anderson have better point gains in those races.
Jeremy Martin is looking like his Championship self
In the 250 class, Jeremy Martin might have visions of 2015 but instead of cat and mousing with Musquin he's got his hands full with Zach Osborne. Martin owns the best seven Moto stretch of anyone in the class but that malfunction in Moto 1 to start the season puts him 18 points back of Osborne who rebounded nicely from an "ill-fated" fifth-place overall in Colorado. Martin grabbed his first overall of the year last time out but won on the tie-breaker over Osborne, who raced much of the second Moto without goggles, so Martin moves into second place in the standings but is no closer in points than he was a week prior.
Alex Martin has yet to finish in the Top 3 since a Moto 1 win in Round 3 and his sixth overall at High Point dropped him into third for points. Martin brought him a ninth overall last year at High Point thanks to a crash and bike malfunction in Moto 1 that dropped him to 19th place but staying upright with a working machine he finished third in Moto 2. He'll have a hard time catching his brother and Osborne if those two feed off each other the rest of the year.
Zach Osborne rode without goggles in Moto 2 last week, finished second, and somehow got flak for it
Just two points separate fourth-place from sixth as Joey Savatgy followed his first moto win and overall of the year with a lackluster seventh overall at High Point keeping him in fourth-place in the standings just a point ahead of Austin Forkner and two in front on Aaron Plessinger, who finished in third twice last week for third overall and moves up two spots in the Championship standings. Plessinger is dealing with some type of shaft injury, after his bike tossed him over the handlebars during a rough practice ride at High Point, which could inhibit his performance this week though expect him to rise to the occasion.
Our Podium Picks for Tennessee:
- Eli Tomac
- Blake Baggett
- Broc Tickle
- Zach Osborne
- Jeremy Martin
- Aaron Plessinger
Check out the track map for Round 5:
Buy tickets online or at the track. Gates drop for Moto 1 at 1 p.m. (EST). MAVTV airs Moto 1 for both classes live and NBC Sports provides live coverage of Moto 2 for both classes. Oh, apparently it's supposed to rain this weekend but if the weather forecasters prove as inept as those in Portland, don't count on it. Otherwise, expect Muddy Creek to live up to its name and a complete gamble on who makes the podium.
2017 Motocross Season Standings
- Blake Baggett (155)
- Marvin Musquin (147)
- Eli Tomac (144)
- Jason Anderson (129)
- Broc Tickle (115)
- Justin Bogle (112)
- Dean Wilson (110)
- Josh Grant (106)
- Cole Seely (105)
- Cooper Webb (88)
- Zach Osborne (166)
- Jeremy Martin (148)
- Alex Martin (140)
- Joey Savatgy (120)
- Austin Forkner (119)
- Aaron Plessinger (118)
- Adam Cianciarulo (109)
- Dylan Ferrandis (100)
- Colt Nichols (98)
- Mitchell Harrison (89)