When the series makes its annual stop in southern Maryland at Budds Creek, we are always treated to an exciting and eventful day. This year was no different, as the potential for championships to be decided was high. After a long summer, it was all coming down to how things played out at the eleventh round of the series. Additionally, the results in both classes were shaken up and just like last year, new winners added their names to the history books.
Compared to the summers of the past, it’s been a surprisingly cool season of outdoor racing. Sure, it’s been hot, but save for a round here and there, it hasn’t been a grueling summer. When we arrived in Budds Creek, however, things were much different. The racers were met by a more typical East Coast thermometer reading and lots of humidity. Combined with a lack of a breeze, temperatures at the track rose to nearly 90 degrees, but the “feel” was closer to 100, and due to the high humidity, it was difficult for riders and their machines to stay cool. Whether or not this impacted the changeup in results is hard to say, but it most certainly tested every racer in the field.
There’s no denying the fact that it was a successful weekend for Honda in both the 250 and 450 class. In his comeback outdoor season, Ken Roczen claimed another moto win by straight up out-pacing his competitor’s. Struggles carried over from the week would cause him to drop back in the second moto, leading to a second overall finish. Meanwhile, in the 250 class, GEICO Honda’s RJ Hampshire put himself on top of the box for the first time with a 2-1 score alongside his teammate Chase Sexton, who finished second overall. Last year, Hampshire came on strong late in the series as well.
THE RETURN OF EL CHUPACABRA?
For everything that Eli Tomac did in the second moto to come from behind for the win, Blake Baggett’s ride was equally impressive. He too would come through the field to log a second place result. In fact, at one point, he even narrowed the gap on Tomac’s lead, but there was not enough time left on the clock for him to mount a charge. Baggett hasn’t been quite the same rider that we saw last season, but perhaps he is finally starting to find his form again. His Budds Creek ride was reminiscent of his dominant 250 season, and perhaps we could see more El Chupacabra-like performances next weekend at Ironman.
At this point, it’s not exactly breaking news, but the championship in the 250 class has been wrapped up by Aaron Plessinger. Mathematically, the odds were high in his favor going into the weekend, and with a wire-to-wire win in the first moto he sealed the deal. Things looked less certain in the 450 class, as Musquin finished ahead of Tomac in the first moto and at one point was tied with him based on the running order in the second moto. When Tomac charged to the front of the pack in that race, it actually increased his points lead from 15 to 20. There are still 50 points on the line, but leaving Budds Creek, Tomac put himself in a stronger position to hang on for the championship.