The Lucas Oil AMA Pro MX Nationals reached the halfway point this holiday weekend at Red Bud. The Michigan track always delivers some excellent racing and this time around was no different. The 450 Class saw one of the best races of the season in the first moto that resulted in yet another overall win for Ryan Dungey. In the 250s, Trey Canard, after three years of trying, finally busted out what will hopefully be one of many overall wins. As the series heads into a two week break and riders rest up, Dungey now has a 64 point lead over Chad Reed while Christophe Pourcel still holds an advantage over Dean Wilson by 33 points.
In WMX, Ashley Fiolek made her first appearance at the top of the podium, edging out Jessica Patterson for the win. While Patterson can no longer achieve a perfect season, she still has a 20 point lead on Fiolek. Here is a look back at some of the behind the scenes happenings of Red Bud.
It is no secret that Red Bud is one of the jewels of the National tour. A perfectly groomed track and ideal conditions made for one of the best races so far this season
With all of the trick parts found on factory machinery, it is always a surprise to find something that is even remotely stock, so finding this stock clutch lever installed on Jake Weimer's ride was a bit of a surprise. Apparently, Jake prefers the bend of this unit over the plethora of others at his disposal.
David Vuillemin was hanging around the pits on Saturday and stopped by to chat with Mitch Payton. DV12 has been working with Gautier Paulin on the MXGP circuit this season so it was good seeing the former factory star paying a visit to the U.S. scene.
Mike Brown made another brief return to motocross at Red Bud, taking over the injured Tommy Searle's KTM 250SX-F. Red Bud was the site of one of the last wins of Brown's career back in 2004 and this time around the current WORCS racer was able to knock out 19-12 finishes for 17th overall. Not bad for a part-timer.
Justin Brayton's season has not lived up to the promise that he showed toward the end of last season. His results in Michigan were also lackluster but do not count Brayton out. Crashes and poor starts certainly hurt his day, but Justin is a strong racer and tends to only get faster as the year drags on.
Keep it clean. Josh Grant gets hosed down after a muddy first practice. Last year at Red Bud, Grant was the man on the day taking a moto win and the overall. This time around was not quite as good for the JGR rider, but he was still to come away with consistent rides and sixth overall. While the championship is probably out of reach at this point for Grant, if he can keep up his good performances, he could bump up several slots in the points standings.
With Michigan being the home of Mandingo Pickles, you better believe they were in full effect at Red Bud. The company's founder, Big Nasty, has been wrenching for Sara Price this season, so she was more than happy to show her support. Price came away from the race with one of her best rides of the season, finishing fourth overall
Check out the extra doo-dads on Nick Wey's Monster Energy Kawasaki. For this race, the team outfitted the forks with extra carbon protection and the front fender was fitted with the vented rear section to help beat the heat.
Ashley Fiolek gets her sag adjusted before game time. As most fans are probably aware, women's racing is getting much more attention from the factories this season. For Ashley, Red Bud could not have been better. After qualifying first, the Honda Red Bull Racing star went 1-1 for the overall win. A very hard-fought second moto with Jessica Patterson showed that Fiolek is not ready to hand over her number one plate.
Both Andrew Short and Ashley Fiolek had these U.S. flag graphics on their machines to celebrate Independence Day weekend.
It's a tough job, but somebody has to do it.
Last season, Mark Valcore (left) was Ryan Dungey's mechanic, but this time around he is wrenching for Australian newby, Matt Moss on Rockstar/Makita/Suzuki. So far Matt has had a tough time in the premier class, but that is understandable. Considering he is returning from both a wrist and back injury, and he had never raced 450s outdoors until this season, 14th overall isn't terrible.
Chad Reed front set up is different than Wey's. The upper stanchion diameter is a bit smaller than NYK's set up, possibly to increase fork flex. To go along with the different forks are, surprisingly, stock triple clamps. Finding anything stock on a factory bike is rare, but at the same time it is also a testament to the quality of their products.
The difference between factory support and the privateers. While it may not seem like much to the casual observer or fans new to the sport, having full sets of spare wheels, complete with tires, sprockets, and rotors can be the difference between finishing a moto or not earning points.
So far this year, Ryan Dungey has been the man to beat. While Millville is really his home track, plenty of fans still came out to watch the Mid-Westerner go 1-1. He may not be the flashiest rider out there, but Ryan has certainly been the strongest and most consistent this year and it is paying off. Ryan is now more than 60 points ahead of Chad Reed in the standings as the series heads into the second half.
Earlier in the year, the Honda of Troy team was running Fox Racing Shox but has recently switched over to PR2. The Pennsylvania based performance shop is actually owned and operated by HoT rider, Darryn Durham's father. Word is, Darryn is no slouch in the shop either.
Like we said, Mandingo Pickles were everywhere at Red Bud. This custom helmet was painted up for HoT's Michael Willard.
Chad Reed had one of his best races since Hangtown. A part of the first moto battle for the win, Reed went 2-2 for second overall. Check out his new Thor threads…we like!
MotoConcepts/Yamaha's Vince Friese had a consistent day and one of his best of the season at Red Bud and claimed 11th overall for the day.
Several Yamaha teams have been running these oversized gas tanks for the 450s. With the tight confines thanks to the motor, there are not many option for finding extra space for the tanks and unfortunately this is the best option so far.
Current GNCC XC2 points leader Kailub Russel made his first attempt at qualifying for a National. While the KTM rider looked comfortable in the 450 Class, two crashes during practice kept him out of qualifying position.
The Rockstar/Suzuki/Canidae squad has not had the best luck this season. After Tommy Hahn podiumed in the first moto at Lakewood, he wound up breaking his foot in the second outing which will have him sit out several rounds. Along Blake Baggett, Jake Moss, and Ryan Morais' injuries, the team was down to zero riders at Red Bud. So they called in privateer rider Jarred Browne to pitch in and he did not disappoint considering he had no time on the bike. Although the first moto did not go well, a 13th in the second moto was good enough for 18th overall. That is a whole lot better than zero exposure.
Dirt Sharkin' it!
Younger fans out there probably don't remember these, but at one point, Honda was a major player in the 60cc MX market. The AHRMA guys always bring out some cool vintage bikes to reminisce about.
TUF Racing is the U.S. distributor for UFO plastics and they had a few new products on display including this new boot. The new kicks look a lot like the Gaerne SG12s and will be available in the States very soon.
Patriotism was running high on Saturday. A fireworks display at the beginning of the day kicked off one of the best races of the season.
There is no doubt that Kyle Regal is talented on a motorcycle. After his podium finish in Colorado, it was no surprise to see the Texan privateer earn second in the first qualifying practice. In racing, Regal was running well until…
…this fall dropped him a few spots. The Honda rider was able to recover some positions to finish 7-7 for seventh overall.
Ben Townley was a man on a mission in moto one. After passing Andrew Short in the opening laps, BT101 held the lead for the rest of race until the last lap when he fell on his own. Still, Ben showed that he is back in racing form and it would not be a surprise to see him be the first rider other than Dungey to claim an overall since Hangtown.
GNCC star, Josh Strang, took a crack at the Nationals in Michigan. Strang is no stranger to a motocross track and was able to earn a single point with a 20th in the first moto. Not bad for a woods guy.
The moto long battle between Townley, Dungey, and Reed was one of the best races we have witnessed all season.
We are not quite sure what is going on with Mike Alessi, but as Chad Reed put it in the press conference, doing well at Hangtown seems to have been bad luck. Three of the stars at Hangtown (Alessi, Reed, and Eli Tomac) have all performed far below the bar they set during the season opener. The power difference was very noticeable at Red Bud with the KTM 350SX-F as there were several laps when Alessi was unable to clear LaRocco's Leap, which is where and when Kyle Regal was able to pass the number 800.
This is where it all went wrong for Townley and Reed in moto one. When Ben crashed on his own, Reed was too close and basically in the same line, so he ran over Townley's machine then fell as well. Dungey, inherited the lead for the last crucial half of a lap.
The ruts were nasty in Michigan, while it did not seem to phase most of the riders, the average Joe would have a tough time navigating the multiple lines and, in some cases, knee deep ruts that littered the track.
Christophe Pourcel is Mr. Moto One. The current points leader has won all but one first moto so far this year. Unfortunately, aside from Colorado, Pourcel's second motos usually do not go as well and the story was the same at Red Bud. 1-5 scores were still enough to give him third overall.
Trey Canard has been racing pro for three seasons now and is usually near the top of most people's list when it comes to talent and championship potential. However, before this weekend, the friendly Geico Powersports/Honda rider had never even claimed a moto win outdoors. That all changed when Trey put in his best charge ever, passing several riders for the second moto win and his first ever overall victory. Congrats Trey!
Blake Wharton may not have been in the hunt for a win, but he was certainly on the gas all day and moved up through the pack in both motos to finish fifth overall.
These two were charging all day long. While Dean Wilson came away with second overall, Justin Barcia rode his heart out in the second moto to claim third in the race and fourth overall for the day.