Photo: Ken Hill
John Natalie bounced back from a rough Round 1 outing in the 2015 Mtn. Dew ATV Motocross National Championship series to a well-fought second-place overall on Saturday at Underground MX Park in Kemp, TX.
Natalie, who won the Holeshot Championship in 2014, is showing the same form this year as he grabbed the holeshot in both Motos to take the lead in the Holeshot Championship standings ahead of Joel Hetrick. But in Moto 1, it was Hetrick who denied Natalie the race win and in Moto 2 it was a thing rather than another rider proving to be a formidable foe.
Natalie held the lead halfway through Moto 1 then after a mistake Hetrick made an aggressive move and took the lead. Though Natalie couldn't get into position to get back in front both riders had an easy time finishing in their respective positions from the rest of the field.
In Moto 2, Natalie again raced out to the front leading halfway through when a piece of dirt got in his line.
"I made the mistake of riding with my mouth open and a huge piece of dirt flew in my mouth and got stuck in my throat," he said. "As I was coughing and trying to breathe I lost concentration and ran off the track and got stuck on a berm."
Natalie dropped to fourth but got back into the race and passed Hetrick for third. Hetrick blew out his engine after Moto 1 and spent the break between races installing a new engine but encountered more mechanical issues in Moto 2 and finished fifth. Chad Wienen, the three-time defending Champion, took the lead after Natalie's encounter with dirt and along with it, the win and overall thanks to a third-place Moto 1 finish. It was Wienen's second-straight overall.
"I know some things I need to work on for the next round in Tennessee in two weeks," Natalie said. "Top of the box in Muddy Creek."
After his win for the inaugural Supercross race at Daytona in early March, Natalie took home a fifth overall for Round 1 a month ago in Georgia. He crashed in Moto 1 after Wienen hit his rear tire and suffered two dislocated ribs and multiple bruises. He returned to win the holeshot in Moto 2 but settled on fourth once the pain became unbearable.
Natalie's performance keeps him in third-place and he's now just three points behind Hetrick in the standings. Hetrick took third overall after his (1-5) day and is now 10 points back from Wienen. Natalie leads Hetrick by one point in the Holeshot Championship.
ATV MX Round 3 is May 2 at Muddy Creek Raceway in Blountville, TN.
2015 ATV MX Round 2 Results
- Chad Wienen (3-1)
- John Natalie (2-3) - MotoSport rider
- Joel Hetrick (1-5)
- Thomas Brown (4-2)
- Jeffrey Rastrelli (5-4)
- Ronnie Higgerson (7-6)
- Josh Upperman (6-7)
- Joe Byrd (9-9)
- Nicholas Gennusa (8-10)
- Brett Musick (12-11)
2015 ATV MX Championship Standings
- Chad Wienen (112)
- Joel Hetrick (102)
- John Natalie (99) - MotoSport rider
- Thomas Brown (95)
- Jeffrey Rastrelli (79)
- Nick Gennusa (69)
- Josh Upperman (66)
- Ronnie Higgerson (66)
- Vital Cazenave (53)
- Joe Byrd (50)