John Natalie is not fully recovered but he's well enough and quite determined to get back into the 2015 Mtn. Dew ATV Motocross National Championship series.
Natalie suffered series trauma after a brutal crash during Round 3 at Muddy Creek in May. Though the crash itself didn't look that injurious, Natalie hardly walked away from it. He suffered broken ribs, a collapsed lung, a bruised lung and a bruised heart. If that's not enough, the journey to get back on his ATV has been wrought with difficulties.
In the past few weeks he's been in and out of hospitals and dealing with fluid in his right lung that makes it hard to breath and sleep. Five days ago, a cellulitis (skin) infection popped up on his nose and face which took numerous IV treatments to get under control.
"It's been over a month since my accident and I'm still not perfect yet," he said on Facebook earlier this week.
But on Tuesday, he got to ride at the Breezewood Proving Grounds in Pennsylvania and he's planning to be behind the gates on Saturday at Sunset Ridge for Round 6 in Walnut, IL.
"I still feel a little sore and it is hard to catch my breath but I am going to Illinois for Round 6 and race and see if I can at least get on the box," he said. "I'm really excited about getting to race again even if I am not at 100 percent."
Natalie, who won the inaugural Daytona ATV Supercross to start the season, was in third-place just three points behind Joel Hetrick after a second-place overall for Round 2. But now missing essentially three rounds, Natalie is out of the Top 10 and while three-time defending Champion Chad Wienen at one point fell out of the lead after Hetrick swept rounds 3 and 4, he's back in front with a 10 point lead over Hetrick, the same point spread after Round 2.
Natalie is in 11th place with 103 points and can easily get back into the Top 10 with a podium finish. However, the Holeshot Championship proves how dominating Natalie is at the start. He's in second-place just six points back from Hetrick.
John Natalie was a spectator at High Point for Round 4 and congratulated Joel Hetrick on his win - All Photos: Ken Hill
Thomas Brown grabbed his first overall of the season on May 30 at the Ironman Raceway for Round 5 with a Moto 1 win, edging out Wienen who finished in second overall with a (2-2) day. Josh Upperman also got on the podium for the first time this year with a (4-3) performance for third overall. Hetrick looked on his way to sweeping his third straight with a dominating Moto 1 win where he grabbed the holeshot and led wire-to-wire. However, in Moto 2 he crashed, managed to work his way to 11th from last place but settled for 14th.
Moto 1 for Round 6 starts at 3 p.m. (EST) Saturday at Sunset Ridge MX in Walnut, IL. Check out the full schedule and directions.
2015 ATV MX Championship Standings
- Chad Wienen (244)
- Joel Hetrick (234)
- Thomas Brown (220)
- Josh Upperman (168)
- Nick Gennusa (156)
- Ronnie Higgerson (149)
- Jeffrey Rastrelli (138)
- Vital Cazenave (117)
- Joe Byrd (107)
- Tyler Hamrick (106)
- John Natalie (103) - MotoSport rider