Author: Brent Stallo
Welcome back! We dedicated last week's edit schedule to Loretta Lynn's and with the 2011 Lucas Oil AMA Pro Motocross series prepping to make its return after two weeks off, there's much to discuss. So take a seat, grab a coke and let's get this show on the road.
As we said, when looking forward to Unadilla there's a lot to focus on. Barcia is making his 450 debut, and despite there still being a three way battle for the title in that class, we have a feeling that many will be focusing their attention on the over-revving, highlight reel of Barcia during the race. After all, Unadilla is his home track and the place where he got his first overall win. Needless to say, the fences will be lined with Barcia fans. The question is, can he carry his same style and tenacity that he's shown in the Lites class to the 450 class? We certainly hope so.
Now onto the 450 championship. After a marquee performance in Washougal, Ryan Villopoto now has the points lead. But not by much. Dungey is only down one point and after taking back-to-back overall wins, seems to be carrying the momentum. But that was before the two-week break. Many are now wondering who will benefit from the time off? Will it hurt Dungey's momentum and give RV the rest he needed, or will Dungey pick up where he left off?
Chad Reed enjoyed the Red Plate for the last few weeks, but after his huge get-off in Millville, he struggled to bounce back at Washougal, scoring only 32 points and dropping to third in the championship. He now sits nine points back from RV. Reed is as tough as they come, but we can't help but wonder if his near catastrophic experience in Millville hurt his title hopes. One thing is for sure, Reed needs to make a statement in New York this weekend if he wants to keep his title hopes alive.
In other news, it looks like Les Smith is off the Rockstar Energy Suzuki Lites team and back on a JGR/Muscle Milk backed YZ 450 for the remainder of the season. Smith put in some solid results for the team early in the year while filling in for an injured Brayton, and Coy Gibbs and the boys are hoping he can do the same while Davi Millsaps rehabs from knee surgery.
Speaking of rehab, Christian Craig is slated to make his return after a hand injury at Millville left him out of Washougal. He lost his top 10 position in the championship to Tommy Hahn during his time off, but is still within reach if he can pick back up where he left off.
With only four rounds left in the series things are beginning to heat up. Every point counts and anything outside the top three for the title hopefuls could spell disaster. Be sure and tune in for the live action on Fuel at 12 pm EST and on NBC Sports at 3 pm EST for all the live action you can handle.
Now onto the Lites class. The PC boys are heading into New York with a flawless record. They've swept every overall this season and taken every spot on the podium in every moto but one. While they've dominated the series, the battle rages on as Dean Wilson, Tyla Rattray and Blake Baggett are all gunning for the title. Despite not yet winning an overall this season, Dean Wilson is still in the drivers seat with 346 points. However, not far behind sits Tyla Rattray with 333 points and Blake Baggett with 329. With eight motos left to go, Wilson is far from safe. He's performed well at Unadilla over the years, and if he can rekindle the magic from years past, it could help him separate himself from his title hungry teammates.
So who, if any, can stop the PC train? While no one is close to reeling them in for the title, every single rider on the gate would love nothing more than to stop their win streak. That you can count on. Kyle Cunningham has shown top three speed, but we wouldn't bet on him taking an overall...at least not yet. And with Barcia moving onto the 450, that leaves him out of the equation. Eli Tomac has shown the speed to win in the past, but seems to be missing something this outdoor season. Though if he gets a jump off the gate we wouldn't count him out. If anyone were able to step up and take an overall, we think the elusive, Marvin Musquin might be the one.
The two time World Champion missed most of the season with a thumb injury, and while he didn't perform extremely well in his comeback ride at Washougal, Unadilla is more his style of track. Washougal, with its dark shadows and unique soil, is a difficult track to adapt to if you've never been there, which is why we believe Musquin may have struggled. Unadilla, on the other hand, is much closer to a GP track that Musquin is used to. We're not hailing him as the bullet that stops the PC train quite yet, but we aren't counting him out either.
We're pumped to get the 2011 Outdoor season back underway and even more pumped to be there every step of the way. As always, log back on Monday morning for a full race recap.