The Troy Lee Designs/Lucas Oil/Red Bull/KTM’s riders had high expectations for the 11th round of the Lucas Oil Pro Motocross Championship. Jessy Nelson, Shane McElrath and Mitchell Oldenburg looked forward to a much smoother track than they encountered in the last round at Unadilla.
Held just outside of Salt Lake City, the Utah National at Miller Motorsports Park presented a rather challenging track for the riders but some strong starts helped Nelson and McElrath earn some positive results at day’s end.
Nelson got off the line well to start Moto 1, narrowly missing the holeshot and quickly assuming the lead down the second straightaway. He would maintain his lead for the next four laps and battle for a spot on the podium throughout the remainder of the race until a late-race crash with only two laps left. Nelson would remount and cross the finish line in 11th position.
Following a red flag restart, Nelson started Moto 2 towards the front of the pack and cracked the top-10 as the moto approached the halfway mark. He would ride a consistent second half of the race, finishing in ninth place and collecting his ninth top-10 overall finish of the season in the process. Nelson remains alone in fifth place overall in the championship hunt with one round remaining.
“It felt great to get such a good start in Moto 1 and lead the first part of the race,” said Nelson. “I was riding well throughout the moto until I got crossed up on a jump and went down. Moto 2 went alright, but I’m definitely looking to step up and end the season on a high note next weekend in Indiana.”
McElrath followed Nelson’s lead in Moto 1 quite literally when he used a top start to move into third place on the second lap. After battling for a podium position, he would end the moto in 12th place. Another strong start to Moto 2 found McElrath battling with his teammate Nelson throughout the middle portion of the race and would ultimately follow him across the line in 10th place. McElrath’s 12-10 moto scores earned him 11th overall on the day and helps him maintain his eighth place position in the championship standings.
“I was pretty happy with my starts today,” said McElrath. “It certainly helps to begin the motos toward the front of the pack, especially when the track is a bit rough and rocky like it was today. It wasn’t quite Unadilla tough but it was still challenging and the heat didn’t make things much easier.”
For the fourth time this season Oldenburg led the team in qualifying, heading to the line with the seventh gate pick in Moto 1. A crash on the start resulted in an injured thumb and a premature end to his race day in Utah.
“I’m bummed to have my day end so early like this,” said Oldenburg. “I was feeling good throughout the morning and was hoping to crack the top-10 after having just missed last weekend.”