The 2011 Lucas Oil Motocross Championship at Spring Creek will forever be remembered for one thing and one thing only. No, not Ryan Dungey's inspirational win in front of his home crowd that inched him to within one point of Ryan Villopoto. No, not Trey Canard's awesome podium in his first race back since breaking his femur. And no, not Tyla Rattray's amazing come-back ride that silenced all the critics and put him past Blake Baggett for the number two position in the points race. While all those were fine and dandy, 2011 Spring Creek will always and forever be remembered as the race where Chad Reed dodged what for about three seconds looked like a season ending injury.
By now you've either seen the photos or watched the video of what was one of the most spectacular crashes we've seen not only in 2011, but maybe ever. Chad Reed hit the eject button over the table top coming out of the whoop section and quickly found himself with at least seven degrees of separation from his dirt bike. A landing on flat ground would have spelled the end for Reed's season and possibly his career. However, keeping his wits about him in the face of danger, Reed was somehow able to land on the downside of the jump and save himself from serious injury. Not only did he return to the track, but he was able to battle back for 14th in the moto, salvage 5th overall and keep his lead in the championship. Amazing isn't even close to explaining Chad Reed's performance at Millville.
As for the rest of the field we think we may have seen a new Ryan Dungey over the weekend. Whether it was the hometown crowd or the media banter he's received over the last few weeks, but Dungey was aggressive in Millville. In the first moto he pushed through the infamous whoops to almost pass Reed in the waning moments of the race, and if not for a slight miscalculation when trying to wheel tap the last one may have succeeded. In the second moto Villopoto grabbed the holeshot but was unable to gap Dungey. RD held his pace throughout the moto and with only a few laps remaining took a calculated inside line and drifted out in front of RV. Whether or not the two lines were going to meet is debatable, but RV sure seemed to think so, as he grabbed a handful of break and ended up going over the bars. He would remount for second, but RD took the overall and inched ever so close to RV in the title hunt.
In other 450 news Trey Canard was only the second rider in 2011 outside of CR, RV and RD to land on the podium. Oh, did we mention it was his first race back? A huge congrats to Trey on a job well done over the weekend. Imagine if he had been on the gate all along?
Another standout rider from Millville was Canard's good friend, Jimmy Albertson. If you remember Albee was injured in practice at Anaheim 1 and missed the SX and most of the MX season with a broken leg. Albee came back at Thunder Valley and put in a solid 12th place ride. He backed it up with some bad luck at RedBud but proved worthy with an 11th over the weekend in Minnesota.
The 450 riders now head west to Washougal Motocross Park next weekend, which happens to be our hometown race. Look for some special coverage coming out of Washington next weekend as the battle for the championship continues to heat up.
We would say that watching Pro Circuit take up every slot of the podium week in and week out is getting old, but the racing has been solid and the title is still tight between the top three, so while the same team continues to roll, the racing has stayed entertaining. After a few "off" weekends, if you can call them that, many were counting Tyla Rattray out of the title hunt. With Baggett's amazing speed and Wilson's uncanny ability to place second every weekend Rattray's speed was in question. Well, Rattray silenced the critics at Spring Creek.
With his back against the wall Tyla Rattray did what he had to do. He proved a point. He was solid in the first moto, but would play bridesmaid to Dean Wilson. Rattray had the fastest lap of the moto, but was unable to reel in Dean-o for the moto win. The second moto, however, was a different story. Kyle Cunningham led the first lap with Rattray in tow. Rattray would put a nice move on Cunningham soon after the expiration of the first lap and never look back. He put in a near flawless ride and took the overall, passing teammate Blake Baggett in the points race in the process.
Surprisingly enough, Baggett, who has been deemed the fastest rider in the Lites class over the last few weekends, was considerably off pace. He struggled to find his groove on the wet, rutty Spring Creek track. He was good enough for third, but with time winding down he'll need to improve at Washougal if he wants to take home the title.
Other standouts in the Lites class were Kyle Cunningham and Rockstar Energy Suzuki/MotoSport.com's Jason Anderson. Cunningham has proven to be Yamaha's MVP this year and is beginning to separate himself at the number four guy in the line-up. His consistency if finally starting to come around, as well. Keep an eye on this kid. He could be a supercross title contender in 2012.
As for Jason Anderson it appears his time-off to help resolve some personal issues paid off. Anderson put in solid 14-11 moto scores to finish 10th overall. This kid has a boatload of talent. Here's hoping the worst of times are behind him and he can finally put in some of the results everyone knows he's capable of.
Be sure and check back in next Monday as we recap our hometown race from Washougal, Washington.