In a dramatic turn of events, Marvin Musquin now controls his own destiny (if he can stay on two wheels) heading into Round 8 of the 2018 Lucas Oil Pro Motocross Championship series on Saturday at Spring Creek in Millville, MN.
Musquin has never held the 450 class Red Plate this late in the season and if not for a series of unfortunate events would ride into this weekend arguably close to 40 points behind Eli Tomac. Instead, a 35 point swing ensued two weeks ago at RedBud when Tomac experienced a bike malfunction while leading with just a few laps remaining in Moto 1 that prevented him from finishing which lead to a subsequent bad gate pick and perhaps fueled some crashes in Moto 2 that dropped him to ninth and 15th overall.
OK, well let's not get carried away. Musquin carries a mere three point lead over Tomac who has not only led all season but has won nine of 14 Motos and in some cases won by significant margin over the second-place finisher. But Musquin has held his own many times this season taking Tomac to task and sometimes winning thoroughly besting the defending Champion at his own game. We'll see what happens Saturday because not only does Musquin represent as the new sheriff in town some other deputies have thrown their hats into a campaign that once seemed foreordained a landslide.
Marvin Musquin leads the field in points heading into Spring Creek
Next in line? Justin Barcia who continues to reach the podium and fight for points. His line for the last seven Motos: 5-2-2-3-3-4-2 for 140 points. Compare that to the first seven Motos which netted him 124 points. Barcia has four straight podiums and that 35 point swing for Musquin also benefitted Barcia who was 65 points behind Tomac after Southwick and now 40 points back of first-place Musquin.
And what happens to a rider who finally gets a long sought after win? They tend to win again. Certainly, Ken Roczen was gifted a Moto win after Tomac's bike melted but he was on pace for second trailing Tomac for much of the race. Roczen's joy was palpable as he crossed the checkers (double checking they were for him) and claimed his first Moto win (and narrowly missing the overall) since his Championship winning year in 2016 and those two disastrous arm injuries incurred this year and last year in Supercross that left him sidelined for a good while.
Ken Roczen swept Spring Creek in 2016
By the way, remember last year when third-place Musquin, 72 points behind first-place Tomac, won six straight Motos, passed Blake Baggett for second and pushed the title fight to the final round? That all started in Round 8 at Spring Creek. Confidence and high dudgeon could collide this weekend leaving the rest to struggle in their wake or making sure they actually crossed the finish first.
Once again, Eli Tomac has to dig out of a hole after burying the field for much of the season
In the 250 class, current runner-up Alex Martin comes home perhaps offering his best chance at catching Aaron Plessinger who continues to manage mediocre outings with sweeps that give him a 35 point lead in the standings. Plessinger has three sweeps on the year including the last time out at RedBud and overalls outside the Top 5 following the first two. Spring Creek doesn't exactly roll out the welcome mat for Plessinger either, his best result a fifth overall two years ago. Martin, meanwhile, who finished second overall the last two rounds, reached the podium the last two years at Spring Creek and won't have his brother (the injured Jeremy Martin) to contend with on their home track.
Alex Martin has yet to win a Moto this year
Elsewhere, look for Shane McElrath to continue a strong run that began in Round 5 at Muddy Creek when he got his first career overall. McElrath was in ninth after Round 5 and now knocks on the for third-place just three points back of Justin Cooper. He netted just 91 points for the first four rounds but 107 in the last three.
Speaking of Cooper, he's had a rough go since colliding with Jeremy Martin in the second Moto at Tennessee finishing outside the Top 5 in the last four Motos including a 17th in Moto 1 at Southwick. Meanwhile, Dylan Ferrandis who returned from a Supercross injury at High Point has won two Motos along with three straight podiums and netted 149 points in the last four rounds, second only to Plessinger with 162. He's in 10th place in the standings and a really long stretch to make a title run but Ferrandis brings podium competition for Alex Martin, Cooper and McElrath as they draw their own lines towards the Championship.
Our Podium Picks for Spring Creek:
- Marvin Musquin
- Eli Tomac
- Ken Roczen
- Alex Martin
- Dylan Ferrandis
- Aaron Plessinger
Check out the track map for Round 8:
A nice day expected this weekend, coming off a rain storm, as gates drop for Moto 1 of Round 8 at 2 p.m. (CST) on Saturday at Spring Creek in Millville, MN. Moto 2 runs at 4 p.m. (CST). MAVTV broadcasts Moto 1 for both classes live but Moto 2 gets tape-delayed on NBCSN airing at 12 a.m. (CST) Sunday.
2018 Motocross Season Standings
- Marvin Musquin (304)
- Eli Tomac (301)
- Justin Barcia (264)
- Ken Roczen (246)
- Blake Baggett (232)
- Weston Peick (193)
- Benny Bloss (176)
- Phil Nicoletti (172)
- Cody Cooper (101)
- Kyle Cunningham (93)
- Aaron Plessinger (283)
- Alex Martin (248)
- Justin Cooper (201)
- Shane McElrath (198)
- Austin Forkner (191)
- Jeremy Martin (176)
- RJ Hampshire (176)
- Chase Sexton (166)
- Jordon Smith (163)
- Dylan Ferrandis (149)