View From The Infield: One Last Dance 4

Mother Nature had a wicked surprise for the end of the 2018 Lucas Oil Pro Motocross Championship series, making for a muddy finale.

View From The Infield: One Last Dance
The riders and crews awoke to a thunderstorm that moved in over the area, dumping a bunch of rain in a short amount of time. It was a great day for ducks...and GEICO Honda Team Manager, Dan Betley.
Davey Coombs, doing a little readjustment before practice to try and divert some of the standing water off the course.

Practice was abbreviated due to the rain, with only a single session for each group. The course was the best for the 250 B riders, which led to quite a few names near the top of the time sheets that we're not accustomed to seeing there. But with the top ten getting seeded in, it pushed some other riders who'd normally qualify out of the show. The shot of Chase Sexton above should give you an idea of what the riders were dealing with.

One of the surprise non-qualifiers was Ryan Sipes (above), along with his teammates, Jordan Bailey, and Mitchell Harrison. Both JGR Suzukis (Decotis and Lopes) missed out, as well as Troy Lee Designs/Red Bull/KTM's Mitchell Falk and Sean Cantrell.

We're not sure which was more unusual. The number of privateers lining up at the inside of the gate...

...or the number of factory-sponsored riders hoping to make it in as alternates.

The rain finally let up before the start of racing, but there's no doubt it was a very sloppy course for moto one. Chase Sexton and Hunter Sayles led the way as they headed into turn one.

Justin Cooper led six laps in moto one of the 250 action, eventually finishing third.

Chase Sexton was second in moto one, but slipped to sixth in moto two for third overall.

Austin Forkner used a 7-5 day to finish with a sixth overall.

Aaron Plessinger methodically picked his way to the front in moto one, grabbing another moto win.

RJ Hampshire grabbed a great start, and then almost tossed it away halfway down the slick, snotty start straight.

Colt Nichols was pumped to get a good start and finish the season with a strong second. He finished just off the podium, with a fourth overall.

Shane McElrath was eighth overall at Ironman after a fifth in moto one (after starting from the far outside gate), and a tenth in moto two. Look for him to pick the number 24 for next season.

Dylan Ferrandis was fourth in moto two, after breaking on the last lap of moto one.

Oh yeah...there's nothing quite like a celebratory burnout on the podium.

The podium looked a lot like the previous week at Budds Creek, with a pair of GEICO Honda riders (Sexton and Hampshire) and Aaron Plessinger...just in a different order. This week it was Aaron with the win, followed by RJ and Chase.

There were four generations of Plessingers celebrating after the final moto of the year, with great-grandma, Connie; fiance Kendall (with their new son, Jake); mom, Angie; and dad, Scott.

Chad Reed and Dylan Merriam had the early jump on the 450 class in moto one.

Phil Nicoletti led three laps after taking over the top spot from Justin Barcia.

Justin Barcia went to work to reel in Filthy Phil.

Marvin Musquin was good for fourth in moto one. After the race we talked to KTM Team Manager, Roger DeCoster about the mid-week practice crash that Marvin had suffered before Budds Creek, and he said in addition to an elbow injury, he'd barely been able to sit because of the way he'd landed.

Ken Roczen and Chad Reed battled for a minute in moto one. Kenny made it to third spot, while Reedy settled for fifth. Still, a killer effort for his first attempt at a National in three years.

Nearly every rider out there had some moments trying to keep the bike under them in the slimy conditions. Eli included. At the end of the moto, he was a single point away from clinching the title, so the pressure stayed on during moto two.

Yeah, this was what the weekend was like for lots of riders. Nick Frazt-Orr taking a mid-moto break.

Justin Barcia took a relatively easy first moto win.

The following sequence shows off the inside line that Chad Reed used in both 450 motos. It was grass covered and a bit elevated, and officials admitted afterward that it probably should have been blocked off, but in the chaos of trying to make the event happen, it got overlooked.

Tyler Medaglia and Blake Baggett duked it out for fifth and sixth in moto two. Blake won that battle, but Tyler won out on the overall, finishing in sixth spot. Blake crashed early in moto one, and finished 16th in that one.

Yeah, Kenny. There may have been others going for it, but Ken Roczen was the only one we saw go for the uphill triple during moto two.

Cooper Webb and Marvin Musquin had a fairly spirited battle over third and fourth spot. Then Marvin had a tangle with a lapped rider, and had to do it all over again.

In an abundance of caution, the team had done an engine swap between motos, and Eli pretty much cruised it in for the title.

It was weird to not see Eli Tomac among the top three, but he had the prize that he wanted in hand, with a number one plate.

Make it a 1-1 day for Justin Barcia, and a nice way to end his 2018 National series.

Way to go, champ. The championship hat was a nice touch for the Colorado native.

Kudos to Eli Tomac and the Monster Energy Kawasaki crew on back-to-back 450 titles. Now it's on to maybe the most anticipated race in U.S. MX history, the MXoN at RedBud.


GuyB 8/27/2018 5:00 PM

4 comments newest first

It's nice to see Eli starting to become a man and not giving up so easily! The guy has so much talent and is such a smooth rider too.
It's also good to see another mud race in order to keep OUR riders up to snuff in ALL conditions.
I can't believe everyone gave Reed the same starting spot both Motos, LOL Especially when the officials were asked OUT LOUD if its cool to use the grass on the start and he said it's cool.
Roczen did a great job in the mud too, as its super hard after an major arm or wrist injury to learn mud again cause you use so many different muscles and styles. Kenny has probably the best tech. riding at this moment, he saves so much energy and such a different line than anyone else accept maybe Tomac. If you really watch him in person he has changed from upper shoulder arm/wrist strength to main torso/back strength in his riding style. He is just so smooth and such a perfect technique, kids should study his riding style and they will learn a great style. Once dude gets this perfected and gets comfortable with it he will be on top and Tomac and Herings better look out!

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