This weekend, the top riders of the Lucas Oil AMA Pro Motocross Championship will head to New England for the historic Moto-X 338 Motocross National, which also serves as the penultimate round of the 12-race series.
With Rockstar/Makita/Suzuki’s Chad Reed clinching his first 450 Class championship last weekend at Budds Creek, the focus of the series turns to the hotly-contested 250 Class battle for the title between current points leader Christophe Pourcel and Ryan Dungey. Additionally, the talented women of the WMX Class make their return to action for round seven of eight. Honda Red Bull Racing’s Ashley Fiolek leads the way in search of her second straight championship.
Affectionately known as the "sandbox," Moto-X 338 has been a home to motocross events since 1973. The Lucas Oil AMA Pro Motocross Championship made its first appearance at the facility three years later and ever since, Southwick has been a favorite amongst fans and riders alike. The track is unique when compared to other tracks that host the series as it is the only one that is comprised primarily of soft and loose sand, held under the cover of the New England scrub pine trees.
Last weekend at Budds Creek MX Park, the chase for the 450 Class title came to a dramatic conclusion as Reed, a two-time AMA Supercross champion, finished second in moto one to Honda Red Bull Racing’s Davi Millsaps. In the second moto, Reed came out swinging and won under persistent rainfall, claiming the championship with two rounds remaining. Millsaps captured second overall while his teammate Ivan Tedesco finished third.
Joining the fray on Saturday is local Massachusetts legend John Dowd, who lives in nearby Ludlow. Dowd, a two-time Southwick winner, won back-to-back races in 1997 and 1998, grabbing wins in both the 250 and 450 Classes (formerly known as 125 and 250). At the ripe young age of 44, he also holds AMA records as the oldest rider to win an overall event, earn a moto victory, stand on the podium and claim an AMA Championship. The beloved New England rider finished sixth overall at this event one year ago and will look to improve on that performance by using his experience at the track to overcome his much younger opponents in addition to scoring AMA championship points, which will allow him to keep his national number of 16.
Pourcel, a Monster Energy/Pro Circuit/Kawasaki rider, leads the 250 Class by 13 points over Dungey, who rides for Rockstar/Makita/Suzuki. To date, Dungey has four overall victories to Pourcel’s three, but with the advantage, the French rider has placed his rival in a virtual must win situation for the remaining four motos. Last weekend, Pourcel’s teammate Jake Weimer landed his third overall win of the season despite treacherous conditions thanks to torrential rain. Playing it smart, Pourcel cruised to second overall as Dungey settled for third.
As the WMX Class returns for its first race in over a month, the championship chase is taking shape as Fiolek carries the momentum of five wins in six rounds. Rival Jessica Patterson brought a halt to Fiolek’s dominance at the previous race in Washougal, but with just two events remaining it may be too late as the reigning women’s champion holds a 49-point lead. However, a win at Moto-X 338 last season will play into Patterson’s favor. In order to claim the 2009 crown, Fiolek needs to gain just one more point over the field on Saturday. However, Patterson along with current third place rider Sherri Cruse are eager to keep their hopes alive and will pull out all the stops as the gates drop. Additionally, local Southwick competitors look to use familiarity to their advantage and pull off the upset.
Last season, James Stewart captured his 11th consecutive overall win en route to a perfect 2008 Lucas Oil AMA Pro Motocross Championship season and his first-ever 450 Class championship. 250 Class champion Ryan Villopoto nailed his 20th and final class victory in bringing one of the most dominant 250 careers to an exciting conclusion.
This weekend, the Southwick staff is preparing for what is sure to be yet another memorable event by providing a trio fundraising opportunities supporting local hero Doug Henry, the Southwick Recreation Center and School Department, as well as American Legion 338. Additionally, the track will host an open practice for all riders on Sunday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.
The excitement kicks-off on Friday at 3 p.m. as gates open for the Monster Energy Fan Fest that will feature live music, autograph sessions, pro team truck tours and a pit bike national.
Lucas Oil AMA Pro Motocross Championship Standings – After 10 of 12 Rounds
1. Chad Reed, Australia, Suzuki, 434
2. Andrew Short, Smithville, Texas, Honda, 330
3. Ivan Tedesco, Tallahassee, Fla., Honda, 322
4. Josh Grant, Riverside, Calif., Yamaha, 280
5. Michael Byrne, Australia, Suzuki, 276
6. Thomas Hahn, Decatur, Texas, Kawasaki, 229
7. Justin Brayton, Murrieta, Calif., KTM, 201
8. Cody Cooper, New Zealand, Yamaha, 176
9. Nick Wey, Dewitt, Mich., Yamaha, 176
10. Jimmy Albertson, Ozark, Mo., Yamaha, 150
1. Christophe Pourcel, France, Kawasaki, 432
2. Ryan Dungey, Belle Plaine, Minn., Suzuki, 419
3. Brett Metcalfe, Australia, Honda, 312
4. Jake Weimer, Rupert, Idaho, Kawasaki, 302
5. Tommy Searle, Great Britain, KTM, 282
6. Justin Barcia, Cairo, Ga., Honda, 267
7. Broc Tickle, Holly, Mich., Yamaha, 242
8. Blake Wharton, Pilot Point, Texas, Honda, 214
9. Tyla Rattray, South Africa, Kawasaki, 196
10. Kyle Cunningham, Ft. Worth, Texas, Kawasaki, 174
WMX Class (After 6 of 8 Rounds)
1. Ashley Fiolek, St. Augustine, Fla., Honda, 294
2. Jessica Patterson, Tallahassee, Fla., Honda, 245
3. Sherri Cruse, Bakersfield, Calif., Suzuki, 224
4. Vicki Golden, El Cajon, Calif., Honda, 192
5. Sara Price, Canyon Lake, Calif., Kawasaki, 175
6. Elizabeth Bash, Riverside, Calif., Kawasaki, 161
7. Sarah Whitmore, Cheboygan, Mich., KTM, 149
8. Mariana Balbi, Brazil, Honda, 126
9. Penni Cyrus, Queen Creek, Ariz., Kawasaki, 116
10. Tatum Sik, Temecula, Calif., Suzuki, 101