Photos by: OCTOPI
The 2018 Lucas Oil Pro Motocross Championship headed down south from High Point Raceway down to Blountville, TN. for round number five and the 2018 Tennessee National. For the fifth round in a row it was Monster Energy / Kawasaki’s Eli Tomac (1-3) walking away with the overall win in the 450 class. For the second weekend in a row, the #1 gave up a moto win to Red Bull / KTM’s Marvin Musquin, but he remains undefeated in overalls for the year. Eli was joined on the 450 podium by Monster Energy / Yamaha’s Justin Barcia (2-2) in 2nd overall and Musquin (5-1) taking 3rd overall.
In the 250MX class, GEICO / Honda’s Jeremy Martin smoked everyone in the opening moto, but a hard crash in moto two ended his season with a broken L2 vertebrae. The overall in the 250MX class went to Troy Lee Designs Shane McElrath with a consistent 3-2 day–the first win of his career. Climbing onto the podium with Shane was Monster Energy / Star Racing / Yamaha’s Dylan Ferrandis (11-1) in 2nd overall and GEICO / Honda’s Chase Sexton (8-4) taking 3rd overall. It was one of the weirdest days for podium moto scores ever.
After the racing was over, we gathered numerous quotes from riders about their fifth outdoor MX race of 2018.
Eli Tomac: (1st in 450MX) “It was a successful day and we’re happy to be taking some points home with us. The goal is to get a good start so we’re out front and I was able to do that in Moto 1. Unfortunately, we didn’t get the start we wanted in Moto 2 so I really had to battle to make some passes. It feels great to leave here with the overall win and we’re going to keep working hard every week.”
Shane McElrath: (1st in 250MX) “It [my first win at my home race] feels a little better than my first podium here. The day was really good. I finally got my bike dialed in–the first couple rounds were tough. We’re making progress each week and that’s what we’re happy about. We just kept working–kept pushing–and it’s crazy for everything to come together for the first time this season here in front of everybody. I felt good today on the track, I just need a little better starts. I’m still kind of speachless.”
Justin Barcia: (2nd in 450MX) “‘m really happy. It was a good day. I’m just getting more comfortable with the bike each weekend. We’re really close, but it’s like we’re just taking steps to get more comfortable. Also, my riding as well is getting better. We’re just trying to put everything together. Today was a step in the right direction. I had a lot of fun. That second moto was tough. That track was really difficult. It’s easy to override a track like this, especially with my riding style, but that’s something I’ve been working on a lot: trying to be smoother. The Yamaha has a lot of power and it’s like when you override it, it makes the chassis tighter. That second moto, I knew Eli was coming at the end and I really needed to throw down some good laps to push it to the limit but still not override it. It’s hard. It takes a good rider to sort this track out. Like Marv [Marvin Musquin] in the second moto, he was on rails and nailing his marks and stuff. I feel like this track is kind of like an MXGP track. It’s slick underneath, with breaking bumps and chop from the throttle. It was a little one-lined today. Lappers were like awful. Besides that, I think this place is great. I had a lot of fun and we’ll keep on working.”
Dylan Ferrandis: (2nd in 250MX) “I ride to win so that’s what I’m looking for. Last year for my comeback for sure was a little bit shy. It’s not easy to ride with guys that have already raced three or four races. I didn’t make starts and my performance was a little bit shy. That’s why my first moto was bad last weekend, but third in the second moto was a good one. This weekend I expect a lot. I was looking forward to fighting for the podium all day and the first moto was terrible. I had a bad start and I crash on second lap. I was way back and I push really hard to come back to the front. I never think about doing a podium today with an 11th in the first moto. In the second moto, I got a good start which I was looking for, for a while this season. Also in Supercross I didn’t take good start in every race I did. I took a good start and I fight with Alex Martin the whole moto. I put a lot of pressure on him. He made a mistake which allowed me to win the moto. I’m happy.”
Marvin Musquin: (3rd in 450MX) “When you crash on the first lap, that doesn’t help. It made it difficult on me. I clipped someones back wheel on the first lap. From that, I just tried my best to come back. You know when you have the top four or five guys at the front, it’s hard to get better than a 5th–that’s what I got. I caught Blake Baggett on the last lap, but it was not enough. It’s very frustrating to be in this position but that’s racing. I did my best and all I could do in the second moto was to get a better start and stay on two wheel. That’s what happened. I was being patient, got around [Ken] Roczen, got around Justin [Barcia] and I was able to control the race towards the end. That’s awesome. It’s a good feeling and it was good enough for at least a podium.”
Chase Sexton: (3rd in 250MX) “I actually had really bad starts today. I started outside the top ten both motos, so I was pretty bummed on that. But I was excited with my first lap. I made a lot of passes. I think I was in third for most of the second moto. I actually saw Dylan [Ferrandis] and Alex [Martin] in front of me. I started catching them a little bit. I had no idea Shane [McElrath, overall race winner] was behind me. He came out of nowhere and blew by me, and then from there on it was pretty much it. These guys rode good. The track was pretty good. It was a little tough to pass, but it was fun. I’m happy to get my first podium. It wasn’t the moto scores that I like to have, but third is third. So, it’s been good.”
Ken Roczen: (4th in 450MX) “I’m happy with how today went. I got fourth, but I feel a lot better and am more satisfied with it this weekend than last because I think we made some good steps forward. I’m a lot happier with my second moto. We definitely made some great improvements on the bike between races. I was kind of fighting it a little in the first moto, but the changes we made were a lot better. I was having fun and not feeling beat up. I ripped two holeshots, which is great. I was up there in the first moto, finishing third, but I just wasn’t gelling. I don’t think the results show how happy I was with the second moto–not on the podium, but all in all I’m satisfied and we can just keep working forward from here on out.”
Joey Savatgy: (6th in 250MX) “This track is pretty easy to fall in line with the rider in front of you, making it hard to make clean passes. That first moto it was tough to get by guys, but I’m glad I learned a few places to pass because I needed it after that tough start in Moto 2. Overall, I felt good and know we can pick it back up at Southwick.”
Weston Peick: (6th in 450MX) “I had two good starts and was running at the front in both motos. Overall, I rode well. My hand is still a problem, though. I have about 15 minutes in me before I lose the feeling in it. When that happens, I get whiskey throttle and my hand blows off the handlebars. Other than that, the series has been going well. I have good speed. My plan is to grind it out every weekend and put in solid finishes. People expect me to finish motos, and that’s what I have been doing. Sixth overall isn’t where I want to finish, but I’m collecting points.”
Austin Forkner: (8th in 250MX) “I’m bummed that I couldn’t get the starts that would have put me in contention at the front. I seemed to ride a little bit better in the second moto even after going down. It’s a learning week. We know we have the speed so we’ll see if we can put it together next weekend.”
Justin Hill: (7th in 450MX) “”My day wasn’t terrible, but it could have been better. I had a practice crash that took the wind out of my sails for the motos. I’m bummed, because I was hoping to make a big improvement from High Point last weekend. I felt better at Muddy Creek and a lot closer to the front guys in practice. Seventh place isn’t the worst finish in the world, though. I’m building, and we made a couple of good changes to the RM-Z450 with the chassis. I’m just a bit upset about the racing, because I wanted to make a jump in my progress. I am excited that I get to race the Suzuki RM-Z450 for the rest of the National series! I have seven more races to be a podium guy and show people that I can be successful outdoors. I’m looking forward to it.”
Phillip Nicoletti: (8th in 450MX) “My second race was a lot better than my first. I had a lot of tip overs. I was trying to push it and lost my cool in the second moto. It’s ok. I’m going in the right direction and I’m looking forward to getting in the sand next weekend.”
Cameron McAdoo: (11th in 250MX) “Muddy Creek was a big step in the right direction for me. The first moto I didn’t come out with the start I was looking for but did my best and came back to 13th. Moto 2 I got a lot better start and was running in sixth for the first 20 minutes and ended up with eighth. It felt good to gain the experience running with the front group, and I look forward to doing a lot more of it as the season continues!”
RJ Hampshire: (12th in 250MX) “Practice didn’t go so well but I got a good start in that first moto and found the pace early,” said Hampshire, who ended up with 4-19 scores and 12th overall. “Felt strong all moto and had good speed. Second moto had a decent start but when Jeremy and Cooper went down I hit someone and went way off the track. Was able to come through the pack pretty well and had a good battle going with Jordon Smith for about the last six or seven laps. Had a pass on him on the last lap and he jumped across the track where he hadn’t gone the entire race and we hit in the air. I hit the ground hard and I’m pretty beat up! Even if I hadn’t passed him, I would have had an overall podium spot, so the crash situation really bummed me out. We will do all we can this week to be on the gate next weekend.”
Michael Mosiman: (13th in 250MX) “Muddy Creek was a pretty good race. My starts improved and my aggression improved. I got a good start in the first moto but then got pushed wide. I got a better start in the second moto and was running a good pace. I went down after Cantrell and lost two spots, but I had some good passes so I was happy about that. All-in-all there were a lot of positives, and I’m looking forward to Southwick.”
Mitchell Harrison: (14th in 250MX) “I’ve been getting great starts all week. I was looking to get better starts today. I had to come through the pack. I feel strong again, though, so I think next week will be good. I love the sand so I’m looking forward to doing better.”
James DeCotis: (15th in 250MX) “It was great to be at the races. I’m thankful that I was able to return at Muddy Creek. Honestly, after breaking my back I wasn’t sure whether I’d even be able to race this summer. It was a long road to get here. I’m so thankful to be with the Autotrader/Yoshimura/Suzuki Factory program and have access to the therapy at JGRMX. To come away with points in both motos is a good start, but the finishes aren’t where I want to be. Taking the positives away, I was really fit and strong in both motos. Now I just need to get the speed. I figured that would happen, because I was off the bike for 3-1/2 months, and I was in a lot of pain during those first few weeks on the bike. Only lately have I started to get that aggression back. It will take time, but Southwick should boost my confidence. The goal is to put on a show for my New England fans. I’m blessed that Suzuki has given me the opportunity to race the Nationals, and that they understand that it’s going to take some time to get where I need to be.”
Jordan Bailey: 16th (in 250MX) “Muddy Creek is an awesome track. I didn’t get a great start in the first moto but I made some passes. I had to work my way up again in the second moto. It’s a step in the right direction, but I need to get a little more aggressive. I’m looking forward to Southwick.”