Never has 15 points looked so close yet felt so far but that's all that separates Eli Tomac and Marvin Musquin as the two head into Saturday for Round 11 of the 2018 Lucas Oil Pro Motocross Championship series at Budds Creek in Mechanicsville, MD.
Before last week's contest at Unadilla, Musquin needed to win out (i.e. every Moto) and he would catch Tomac and claim the 450 class Championship. He won but not a sweep (tying Tomac in points) thus Tomac, the defending Champion, holds on to the slim 15 point margin for the second straight week. Now, Tomac merely needs to finish second in the last four Motos and he makes it back-to-back.
Eli Tomac holds on to a 15 point lead heading into the penultimate round on Saturday
Considering Tomac has finished in first or second in 17 of the 20 Motos raced this season and the only rider to bank at least four straight Moto wins, a feat he has done twice this season, Musquin faces tough odds. But lest we forget a 35 point swing at RedBud when Tomac's bike gave up the ghost and he handed over the Red Plate. Just for one round but still something happened. Musquin meanwhile has brought home gems of his own, coughed up a few forgettables - albeit nothing below fifth-place - but most telling has not swept in any round or even taken consecutive Moto wins over two rounds. That hurts and if he doesn't turn that stat around on Saturday he'll never catch Tomac.
And if you want all business, find that in Tomac. In the sloppy mess that was Unadilla last week Tomac showed little reservation riding with the throttle pinned to capture the Moto 1 win. He did play it safe for Moto 2, kept it on two-wheels and finished second to Musquin. No need to do anything else because so far so good and if he keeps that pace for the final two rounds he goes home a two-time Champ.
Marvin Musquin is keeping the title chase close this year
But, Budds Creek was not overly kind to either rider last year. Musquin finished second overall on a (2-4) day beating Tomac who finished third on a (7-1) day. Musquin left Budds Creek last year 30 points behind Tomac in third-place. He ate off 13 points in the final round to Tomac's lead who ultimately dialed it back after crashing in Moto 1 and cruised home for the title.
Ken Roczen had his worst round last week since Hangtown
Technically, two other riders remain in the hunt who need dual disasters to even make a case with 100 points on the table. Justin Barcia sits 85 points behind Tomac in third and Ken Roczen 90 points out from first. The realistic fight for these two revolves around third-place for the year and until last week that looked like Roczen's rightful place. Barcia fared better in the mud taking third in Moto 2 for fourth overall while Roczen finished seventh overall on two seventh-place finishes losing five points to Barcia in the process and ending a three-round podium streak. Expect both back up front this week unless of course another rain storm barrels through which helped Phil Nicoletti last time out as he reached the podium for the first time in his career.
Aaron Plessinger should have an easier time this weekend to clinch the 2018 250 class Motocross Championship
Aaron Plessinger should wrap the 250 class title this weekend as he holds a 78 point lead over Alex Martin who hasn't landed on the podium since Round 8. Plessinger took second in both Motos last week for second overall well ahead of third-place Mitchell Harrison with a (4-4) day and if Plessinger holds on to a 75 point lead after Moto 1 on Friday he gets a Championship victory lap for Moto 2. Plessinger has had little competition since two-time Champion Jeremy Martin and defending Champion Zach Osborne injured out of the series leaving Alex Martin and rookie Justin Cooper as primary contenders, but neither one has won a round and of the two, Cooper has the only Moto win coming in Round 3. Martin has not finished in front of Plessinger since Moto 2 at Southwick.
Martin likely has a lock on second-place for the season but third-place remains open as Shane McElrath has poured on the points in recent rounds jumping from ninth-place after High Point to now 13 points back of Cooper in third while Dylan Ferrandis moved up five spots into fifth-place thanks to last week's sweep. Ferrandis got a late start to the season with Round 4 his first of the season but he now sits 24 points back from fourth and 37 points from third. He also has four Moto wins, second only to Plessinger who has eight.
Our Podium Picks for Budds Creek:
- Eli Tomac
- Marvin Musquin
- Ken Roczen
- Aaron Plessinger
- Shane McElrath
- Joey Savatgy
Check out the track map for Round 11:
A warm day in the forecast with a possible thunderstorm, so mud could play a factor once again on Saturday. Gates drop for Moto 1 at 1 p.m. (EST) and live television coverage scheduled for the entire round as MAVTV broadcasts the first races of both classes then NBCSN airs Moto 2 for both classes starting at 3 p.m. (EST).
2018 Motocross Season Standings
- Eli Tomac (448)
- Marvin Musquin (433)
- Justin Barcia (363)
- Ken Roczen (358)
- Blake Baggett (332)
- Weston Peick (272)
- Benny Bloss (253)
- Phil Nicoletti (253)
- Kyle Cunningham (140)
- Cody Cooper (137)
- Aaron Plessinger (415)
- Alex Martin (337)
- Justin Cooper (291)
- Shane McElrath (278)
- Dylan Ferrandis (254)
- RJ Hampshire (252)
- Chase Sexton (251)
- Austin Forkner (250)
- Joey Savatgy (247)
- Jordon Smith (244)