GEICO Honda 250 MXReturning to the GEICO Honda team as a replacement rider for injured past champion Justin Bogle, 23-year-old Christian Craig has brought a healthy dose of enthusiasm to teammates Matt Bisceglia, R.J. Hampshire, and Jordon Smith.Craig looked strong in his first race back last weekend at Thunder Valley Motocross in Denver, leading the entire team with an overall fifth-place result after finishing Moto 1 in fourth place and Moto 2 in sixth. His fourth-place ranking in the first moto was the best of the year among the 250 contingent.
“I’m just so happy to be on the team again,” said Craig, who rode a 450 for the group last outdoor season. “The bike is working great and everyone here in this pit is great. I feel really good on the bike and I’m looking forward to Tennessee in a big way. If I can lift everyone in some way, all the better.“I was happy with where I finished being my first race back. Of course, now I want more. I’d like to get up on the podium at Muddy Creek, and I really expect to challenge for the podium there. The tracks at these outdoor races get really rutted up, but my bike was tracking well in Denver and going where I wanted it to. If that continues in Tennessee, I can’t see why we won’t have a chance to do well, all of us on this team.”Saturday’s Red Bull Tennessee National at Muddy Creek Raceway is the fourth of 12 in the Lucas Oil Pro Motocross Championship. Currently, Bisceglia is ranked highest among the GEICO Honda 250 riders in ninth place. Hampshire is next in 11th place, followed by Smith in 13th and Craig in 18th.Interestingly, the four riders finished in opposite order of their points ranking last weekend, with Craig fifth overall, Smith close behind in sixth, Hampshire eighth, and Bisceglia 12th.“I need to come back this weekend and really work on minimizing mistakes,” Bisceglia said. “Denver was a challenge. The elevation didn’t bother me at all; I’m in great shape. The track was very technical. It got very rutted, so it was definitely difficult in areas. I need to be better in those sections.“This weekend will be all new to me. I missed last year’s Muddy Creek with an injury, so this will actually be my first ever race in Tennessee. They say we may get rain and that Muddy Creek will be muddy, so that could shake things up. I just need to make sure I’m ready for whatever happens and, like I said, make no mistakes.”After staying with a friend in Southern California for the last several weeks so he could train with the team, Floridian Hampshire is happy to be heading back east, where he plans to stay for the next stretch of rounds.“I’m ready to be back home, so I am definitely excited to see Muddy Creek on the schedule,” Hampshire said. “I’m ready to head back to Florida and sleep in my own bed. I actually rode at Tennessee a lot as an amateur, so I love it there. I feel very comfortable at Muddy Creek. The track is always fun and technical.“I need to keep building every weekend and make improvements. My team and I did a bunch of testing last week and it’s starting to pay off. I was complaining a lot about my bike but the team stuck behind me, made some changes, and made it work. Overall we made a big improvement on my bike in Denver and I feel like I got better. Not much more we can ask for now except to keep building. It’s time to get in the top five.”Going East also has Belmont, N.C., resident Smith feeling right at home.“I’m excited about Tennessee,” Smith said. “I rode there quite a bit growing up, so everything should go well there. I really like the track, and I’m excited and hopefully we can do well. I feel really comfortable riding that track, so I’m hoping to get some top-five finishes there this weekend.”The first motos of the Red Bull Tennessee National will be shown live from noon to 2 p.m. ET on MAVTV. The second moto will air live from 2 to 3 p.m. ET on NBC.