Author: Brent Stallo
When Justin Barcia pulled the holeshot in his first ever 450 moto in front on his hometown crowd, the screams were near defining. The panic revving, wild child was out to prove a point and he did so early in the first moto at Unadilla. While the rookie channeled his adrenaline rush to a holeshot and an early race lead, title contenders Ryan Villopoto, Ryan Dungey and Chad Reed were battling their way through the top five.
Dungey, stuck behind Jake Weimer and Christian Craig in fourth, had his work cut out for him. However, it was Ryan Villopoto who would come from nowhere to get around Dungey, Weimer and Craig. Like a thief in the night, RV was into second and pressuring Barcia. And where was Chad Reed during all this? The crowd favorite was stuck in 8th behind Mike Alessi after a poor start. While Barcia and RV began pulling away from the pack, Dungey had his hands full in a knock down, drag out brawl with Craig and Weimer. Dungey would eventually work his way into third but still had work to do if he wanted to salvage valuable points and catch Barica.
The running order stayed the same for a few laps before Dungey mounted a charge and reeled in Barcia. He was able to work his way into 2nd, but not without a fight from the rookie. Meanwhile, with precious championship points on the line, Reed was able to muster the energy to work through the pack from 8th to 4th, but the question had been answered. Barcia, in only his first 450 race, had already had an impact on the championship.
Moto two saw Mike Alessi pull one of his countless trademark holeshots followed by Weimer, Justin Brayton, RV and Dungey. Barcia quickly moved around Weimer for 2nd and set his sights on Alessi for another lead. However, RV was once again on a charge and quickly moved his way past Barcia and Alessi into the lead. A lead that he would not relinquish for the remainder of the race. Meanwhile, with Barcia around Alessi into 2nd and Dungey finally working his way into third, the battle was on once again. The two went at it for what seemed like an eternity. Dungey would show Barcia a wheel and Barcia would slam the door. Time and time again the two would go at it with Barcia continuing to hold his ground. Barcia would go off the track at one point, but re-enter while still in holding position over Dungey. The battle would continue until the two came together over a jump with Barcia going down. While jumping to the inside in an effort to cut off Dungey, Dungey landed on Barcia's back tire. He would remount to take 3rd, with Dungey saving costly points in 2nd.
Where was Reed during all this again? Losing points, that's where. While trying once again to work his way through the pack, Reed went down while battling Weimer for 5th. He would remount in 8th and eventually work his way back into 5th, but the damage had already been done. RV, RD, Barcia, Reed and Alessi made up the top five overall and with only three rounds not to go, things are more interesting than ever.
RV was able to stretch his points lead over Dungey to seven after a perfect 1-1 sweep, while Reed dropped 25 pts behind RV with a lackluster finish. Reed is under the hot light heading into Southwick, where he'll need to dig deep if he wants to stay in the title hunt.
Top Five Championship:
- Ryan Villopoto - 391
- Ryan Dungey - 384
- Chad Reed - 366
- Brett Metcalfe - 262
- Mike Alessi - 210
Gareth Swanepoel ripped the holeshot over PC's Dean Wilson and Blake Baggett in the first moto, but would soon be tested by the speed of the championship hopefuls. Swanepoel had the lead, but all eyes were on the battle between Wilson and Baggett. The two began banging bars early as they worked to reel in Swanepoel. Wilson would be the first to make the move into the lead while Baggett would go down and find himself in 8th. Wilson would then put in a charge and separate himself from the pack for a much needed and much deserved moto win.
Meanwhile, Swanepoel was under the gun from the red-hot rookie, Justin Bogle. Bogle. Fresh off his final amateur race at Loretta Lynn's, was putting the pressure on Swanepoel for 2nd early and looked poised to take the position. But then it happened. Just like it has so many times throughout the season, Blake Baggett and Tyla Rattray put in fast lap after fast lap and worked their way up to and around Bogle and Swanepoel to sweep the podium yet again. Bogle would eventually give up another position to Eli Tomac to finish 6th, but made a huge statement in his debut pro race.
Moto two saw another crowd favorite in Jimmy Decotis take the holeshot. But his glory would be short lived, as the human freight train of Wilson, Cunningham, Bogle and Tomac were out for blood. Wilson quickly moved into the lead and once again put in a flawless moto for, believe it or not, his first overall win of the season. And with Tyla Rattray going down early and Blake Baggett buried in 7th early on, it looked as if Wilson was going to get his gloves on some much needed extra points.
Justin Bogle once again put in a solid moto, but was eventually worn down by the likes of Cunningham, Tomac, Baggett and finally a hard charging Martin Davalos. While the battle continued to rage inside the top five, Rattray was suffering from a crash that put him out of the race in 36th and possibly out of title contention. Baggett was able to work his way into 3rd for the moto, but would prove unable to reel in the number two ride of Eli Tomac. He salvaged what he could, but would lose out to Wilson after all was said and done.
The top five would finish as follows: Dean Wilson, Eli Tomac, Blake Baggett, Kyle Cunningham, Justin Bogle.
With three yet to go, Rattray, much like Reed, is on the outside looking in. He'll need help if he wants to push his way back into title contention. But as we've seen time and time again, Southwick might just be the place to get it.
Top Five Championship:
- Dean Wilson - 396
- Blake Baggett - 371
- Tyla Rattray - 353
- Kyle Cunningham - 264
- Eli Tomac - 239