The Red Bull Tennessee National, Round Five of the Lucas Oil Pro Motocross Championship, sanctioned by AMA Pro Racing, produced a wild afternoon of competition on Saturday from one of the newest tracks in the series at Muddy Creek Raceway.
Needing a win in the final 450 Class moto, Red Bull KTM’s Ken Roczen did just that to ensure his third overall win in just five career starts in the premier division.
In the 250 Class, Yamalube/Star Racing Yamaha’s Cooper Webb broke through for his first career win to become the 75th different winner in the history of the division.
GEICO Honda’s Eli Tomac made his anticipated 450 Class debut at Muddy Creek following a lengthy recovery from a broken collarbone. Last year’s 250 Class title winner made his presence felt immediately by setting the fastest lap of practice, and then carried that momentum into the opening moto by grabbing the Motosport.com Holeshot Award.
As Tomac and Roczen positioned themselves out front, a huge first turn pileup included most recent winner James Stewart and his Team Yoshimura Suzuki in addition to Discount Tire Racing/TwoTwo Motorsports’ Chad Reed, and Toyota/Yamaha/N-Fab/JGRMX’s Josh Grant.
Roczen made a pass on Tomac for the lead on the opening lap only to go down the next time around and fall to fourth. Tomac seized the opportunity to lead his first ever 450 Class moto, impressively holding off Team Honda Muscle Milk’s Trey Canard and a hard-charging Dungey for over half the race.
Dungey made his way by Canard and set his sights on Tomac out front, closing in lap-by-lap and eventually making the pass on lap nine. Roczen rebounded from his early trouble to follow Dungey past Tomac and into second, pitting the team-mates in a battle for the win.
Dungey maintained his advantage throughout the remainder of the race to take the moto win, his first since the opening round, while Roczen followed in second. Tomac finished third with Canard fourth, while Stewart passed nearly the entire field to finish fifth.
Knowing he needed a good start in order to have a shot at his second overall win of the season, Dungey raced to the Motosport.com Holeshot Award in Moto 2, only to be passed by Roczen on the opening lap.
The KTM riders proceeded to consistently pull away from the field from that point on, meaning the win would be decided between the team-mates. Tomac slotted into third off the start and maintained control of the podium spot despite pressure from Canard.
Out front, Dungey closed in on Roczen as they approached lappers in the late stages of the race but was unable to mount a serious challenge, which allowed Roczen to steal the overall win. Tomac followed in third.
Both Dungey and Roczen finished the afternoon with identical moto results, but Roczen’s better second moto finish gave him the edge in the tiebreaker.
“I felt good out there. I got a good start [in the second moto] and even had a close call out there with about two laps to go which caused me to lose a bit a time, but I still made it happen,” said Roczen, who has finished third or better in every moto this season. “I’m happy it’s over. It was another good weekend and we were able to keep the points lead steady.”
“All in all it was a good day,” said Dungey. “I pushed it that whole second moto. I tried [to close in on Roczen] and got fortunate with the lappers coming in there, but then they came my way and it kind of averaged out. We gave it all we had and that was all I can do.”
It marked the third time this season that the KTM duo has finished 1-2 overall. Tomac’s pair of solid third-place finishes guaranteed a spot on overall podium in his 450 Class debut, with Canard fourth (4-4) and BTO Sports KTM’s Andrew Short fifth (6-8).
Stewart endured even more misfortune in the second moto to soldier home with an 11th-place finish and land eighth overall (5-11), one round after his dominant win.
With no points being exchanged between Roczen and Dungey, 16 markers still separate the pair at the top of the championship standings. Stewart’s challenging day dropped him to 43 points out of the lead in third, with just one point separating he and Canard in fourth.
Coming into Muddy Creek, every moto win and overall victory in the 250 Class was split between two riders – Yamalube/Star Racing Yamaha’s Jeremy Martin and Monster Energy/Pro Circuit/Kawasaki’s Blake Baggett. The former series champion Baggett entered the day with back-to-back wins at the previous two rounds, while Martin controlled the championship points lead.
As the gate dropped on the first moto, Frenchman Christophe Pourcel put his Valli Motorsports Yamaha out front for the Motosport.com Holeshot Award, with Monster Energy/Pro Circuit/Kawasaki’s Justin Hill hot on his rear fender. Behind them, Martin found himself on the ground in the first corner following a multi-rider incident and started at the rear of the field.
As Pourcel and Hill did battle out front, GEICO Honda’s Justin Bogle and Webb closed in. Both Bogle and Webb moved past Hill before Webb then took over second place from Bogle just a couple laps later. Baggett started inside the top five and also began a surge to the front, and before long it became a three-rider battle for the lead between Pourcel, Webb and Baggett.
On lap 11 Webb took control of the moto from Pourcel and brought Baggett with him. The pair pulled away in the closing laps, which allowed Baggett to make a desperate move in the final corner and somehow pass Webb on the outside to edge him out at the line by .080 seconds. Pourcel finished third, with Bogle fourth and Red Bull KTM’s Marvin Musquin fifth. Martin fought his way through the field to finish 10th.
With a four moto winning streak in his favor, Baggett sought to claim three-straight overall victories for the first time in his career but had to overcome a slew of riders at the start of the second moto. Bogle earned the Motosport.com Holeshot Award but was pushed by Pourcel and Webb early, with each rider making the pass to set the tone out front. Webb wasted little time in putting himself in control, passing Pourcel for the lead before the conclusion of the opening lap.
Once out front, Webb was able to maintain his advantage even though Baggett made his way from another top five start to come within bike lengths of Webb with just a handful of laps remaining. After several pass attempts, Baggett made a slight bobble that opened some space between he and Webb.
Shortly thereafter, Baggett made contact with a lapped rider that forced him to the ground, allowing Bogle to assume second and causing Pourcel to crash as well. Webb raced on knowing the win was his and capped off a career day by winning his first career moto and securing his first overall victory in the process. Bogle finished second with Baggett coming back to finish third.
“I’m on cloud nine, I’m not going to lie. I was beating myself up when I got passed in the last turn [in Moto 1], but I was able to come back and get the job done,” said Webb, who hails from North Carolina and considers Muddy Creek to be his home race. “To do this at my home race, I could hear these guys [the fans] every single lap. Baggett was on me the whole moto, but I told myself I wasn’t going to let him by. I’m so pumped.”
Webb had earned five runner-up finishes in nine motos prior to the win, including two second place overall finishes. Baggett’s 1-3 results placed him second overall, while Bogle’s runner-up finish in the second moto helped move him to third overall (4-2). Pourcel was fourth (3-4) while Musquin rounded out the top five (5-5).
Martin was never a factor in either moto after difficult starts and ultimately finished a season-worst seventh overall after posting 10-6 moto scores. Despite that, he still sits atop the 250 Class standings albeit by just eight points over his team-mate Webb. Baggett closed in to within 17 points of the lead in third.
“The only thing I’m concerned about is getting a good week of practice and coming out strong at RedBud,” said Martin, who also earned his first career win earlier this season. “I rode as hard as I could today and gave it everything I had, so I can walk away knowing I did everything I could. We’ll just come back stronger.”
The 2014 Lucas Oil Pro Motocross Championship will reach the halfway point next weekend with its annual 4th of July tradition at the Red Bull RedBud National. RedBud MX in Buchanan, Michigan, will host the sixth round of the season on Saturday, July 5. Action begins at 1 p.m. ET.