Budds Creek preview: Zach Osborne closes in on his first title

August 17, 2017

It could all come full circle for Osborne on Saturday

Zach Osborne's first outdoor championship could come at the site of his first victory. (Photo: Rich Shepherd / Racer X Online)

There's just two rounds left in the 2017 Lucas Oil Pro Motocross Championship. Next stop: Budds Creek Motocross Park for Round 11.

The big story in Mechanicsville this weekend will be Zach Osborne. The Rockstar Energy Husqvarna rider is on the verge of his first 250MX title and has a very good shot at locking it down on Saturday.

The magic number for Osborne is 51. If he ends the day at Budds Creek with a lead of at least 51 points, he clinches the championship. Right now, he holds a 63-point lead over Jeremy Martin, so he can afford to lose up to 12 points and still clinch one round early.

With two separate motos taking place in one day, the clinching scenarios can get a little complicated, but essentially, if Osborne finishes on the podium in both motos at Budds Creek, he'll win the title regardless of Martin's performance.

To get into even more specifics: Even if Martin were to sweep both motos, Osborne could finish 2-5 or 3-4 (or better) in the motos and still take care of business.

Then there's the scenario where Osborne could clinch after just one moto. In order to do that, he'd need to build up a 75-point lead over Martin after the first moto of the day. That means picking up 12 points in a single moto. That could happen if Osborne wins the moto and Martin finishes 8th or worse. Or some equivalent scenario where they both finish further down the standings (i.e. Martin DNFs, Osborne finishes 9th or better).

Osborne, who was just named to this year's Motocross of Nations team for the United States, leads the 250 Class in moto wins (7) and overall wins (4) this season but has cooled down a bit in recent weeks. Poor starts have been a hindrance for him, but he has made his living all year by turning fast laps and passing riders by the bunch. With such a large points lead, Osborne doesn't need to push things too hard and can afford to just ride smart races and net top-five finishes.

Of course Martin does not have that same luxury. Expect to see him leave it all on the line as he clings to his slim title hopes. Coming off a victory last weekend at Unadilla, he'll hope to keep the momentum rolling.

Playing the role of spoiler could be Joey Savatgy, who we should probably mention isn't technically eliminated yet, mathematically speaking at least. (He's down 89 points to Osborne and 26 points to Martin.) But while a title shot isn't realistic, another race win certainly is. Savatgy enters Budds Creek as one of the hottest riders in the 250 Class, having won three of the last six motos and two of the last three overalls.

Then there are the rest of the usual suspects — Aaron Plessinger, Dylan Ferrandis and Adam Cianciarulo chief among them. Cianciarulo is a particularly interesting one to watch, as he's been on the cusp of winning races in recent weeks, only to lose in heartbreaking fashion. Last week it was a crash while leading in Moto 1 that did him in. Is this the week his luck turns around?

As for last year's race at Budds Creek, who was the 250 Class winner? It was none other than Zach Osborne, riding to 4-1 moto finishes for the overall win.

That was the very first win of Osborne's 250MX career. One year later, things are much different thanks to the breakout season currently in progress. On Saturday, everything could come full circle for Osborne, as he might have a career-defining moment at Budds Creek for the second year in a row.

Three-way championship battle resumes in the 450 Class
Just a few weeks ago, it seemed like a foregone conclusion that Eli Tomac was on his way to his first 450 Class championship. Tomac was cruising to moto wins, Blake Baggett was struggling with a thumb injury, and Marvin Musquin had seemingly already been knocked out of title contention due a knee injury and some DNFs.

But fortunes shift quickly in Lucas Oil Pro Motocross, and the landscape has changed: Tomac is coming off one of his worst races of the season, 10-5 moto finishes for ninth overall; Baggett is still dealing with a thumb injury but is getting enough second-place moto finishes to still be a pest for the others; and Musquin has reeled off six moto wins in a row and is suddenly back in the discussion.

With four motos left, Tomac holds a 27-point lead over Baggett and a 31-point lead over Musquin. That's a decent cushion but one that's far from safe. With the way Musquin's been riding lately, all it could take is one DNF from Tomac to really shake things up.

There are, of course, scenarios where Tomac could clinch the title this weekend, but even if he steadies the ship at Budds Creek, this battle appears destined to go down to the final round of the season at Ironman.

There's a lot to look forward to from the rest of the field too.

Dean Wilson, who is currently enjoying a renaissance season, sits fourth in points and is the only rider to finish inside the top 10 of all 20 motos that have been run so far this year. Martin Davalos, who has been one of the biggest surprises of the season, has top-four finishes in five of the last seven motos and is coming off a career-best second-place overall result at Unadilla. Cole Seely is a week removed from the first 450MX overall podium of his career and the announcement that he'll be on the Motocross of Nations team. And Justin Bogle, who won a surprise moto earlier in the year, is one of the riders auditioning themselves for a new ride in 2018.

Make sure to tune in this Saturday, August 19 for live coverage from Budds Creek. Click here for detailed info on how to watch.