RedBud race preview: The drama continues as series approaches midpoint

June 28, 2017

Just four points separate Baggett and Tomac in 450MX points entering Round 6.

The battle between Eli Tomac and Blake Baggett rages on. (Photo: Rich Sheperd / Racer X Online)

After five rounds of the 2017 Lucas Oil Pro Motocross Championship, the drama in the 450 Class shows no signs of ending.

After High Point, there appeared to be a fierce battle shaping up between Blake Baggett and Eli Tomac over the rest of the season. And sure enough, after the results of Muddy Creek, those two are separated by just four points now (with Baggett still holding the red plate). Each rider has won two overalls so far this summer.

This past weekend at Muddy Creek, Tomac returned to the top of the overall podium for the first time since the season opener, while Baggett made an impressive charge from 39th to 3rd in Moto 2 to salvage a day that could have easily ended with him losing the points lead. Both riders have reason for confidence entering Saturday's Fourth of July weekend race at RedBud.

Meanwhile, as anticipated, Marvin Musquin is seeing his title hopes fade away following the meniscus tear he suffered just before High Point. Although Musquin said in a statement that he was feeling better this past weekend from a pain-tolerance standpoint, his mechanical DNF in Moto 2 cost him dearly. Now 34 points behind Baggett and still dealing with the knee injury, fans will just have to hope he heals up enough to at least start challenging for moto wins again in the near future, even if the championship is becoming a longshot.

But wait! There's another rider who can crash the Baggett/Tomac party.

Jason Anderson came out at Muddy Creek and made a huge statement by taking the win in Moto 1 and nearly earning the overall victory as well. That puts the Rockstar Husqvarna rider just 19 points behind Baggett and 15 behind Tomac, deficits that can be made up in just one single moto should something happen to either of the top two.

Jason Anderson has two moto wins so far in 2017. (Photo: Rich Shepherd / Racer X Online)

Hoping for misfortune won't suffice though. Anderson will need to show both podium consistency and speed in order to stake his claim for the 2017 title. But like Baggett and Tomac, his confidence should be peaking right now.

While the title battle in the 450 Class will hopefully remain exciting for weeks to come, here's a few other items to keep an eye on this weekend.

Welcome back, Trey Canard
Muddy Creek marked Trey Canard's return to racing for the first time in about three months. He started strong in both motos — fifth in Moto 1, second in Moto 2 — but ended up with 10-11 moto finishes. Some rust is always to be expected when a rider returns from a long layoff, but it will be interesting to see if he can build on those results. Canard's first year with Red Bull KTM has been marred by injury, so you know he will want to log strong results before the end of the summer.

Dean Wilson's streak still going
One of the intriguing storylines we've been following throughout the season has been Dean Wilson's streak of top-10 finishes. After five rounds, it's still intact, and he and Baggett remain the only riders to finish in the top 10 in every single moto this season. Wilson's 8-7 finishes were good enough for fifth overall at Muddy Creek, giving him his third top-five overall finish of the season so far.

Weston Peick is coming off his best race of the season. (Photo: Rich Shepherd / Racer X Online)

Start of something for Weston Peick?
Weston Peick turned in his best result of the season last weekend with 4-4 moto finishes at Muddy Creek. The results haven't been there for the JGR Suzuki team so far this season, but could Peick help turn that around with another solid result?

Watch out for Broc Tickle?
A few weeks ago at High Point, Tickle rode his best race of the season, finishing third overall with 4-4 moto results, and has quietly situated himself fifth in 450MX points. He's had success at RedBud in recent years — fourth overall in 2015, third overall in 2016. If you're looking for someone who might turn some heads with strong rides behind the top guys, Tickle is certainly a contender.

Zach Osborne's title to lose?
For all the parity in the 250 Class this year — Six different moto winners! Four different overall winners! — Osborne is firmly in control of the points race thanks to his consistency and another disappointing outing from Jeremy Martin at Muddy Creek. Osborne's points lead is now 31 over Alex Martin, meaning that Osborne could DNF his next moto and still have the lead. Will Osborne avoid any mistakes that hamper his title hopes, or will he continue to hold a comfortable edge as the series reaches the midway point?

Austin Forkner is still in search of his first moto win in 2017. (Photo: Jeff Kardas / Racer X Online)

More first-time winners still to come in the 250 Class?
Last week, we mentioned Aaron Plessinger as a candidate to add his name to the list of moto winners this season. Right on cue, AP delivered both a moto win and an overall win at Muddy Creek. Through five rounds and ten motos, there have now been four different overall winners and six different moto winners, and there is potential for those numbers to get even higher. (A seventh different moto winner would match the number we saw in 2016.)

This week, we're turning the focus to Austin Forkner. The Monster Energy/Pro Circuit Kawasaki rider has been solid all season. Were it not for bike issues that saddled him with a DNF at Glen Helen — an issue that struck most of the Pro Circuit bikes, not just Forkner's, that weekend — we might be mentioning his name as a potential title threat despite the lack of wins.

Forkner finished 2-3 at Round 3 (Thunder Valley) and 3-3 at Round 5 (Muddy Creek). He's been on the cusp of a win throughout the season, and one seems more likely than not to come before the end of the summer. Could RedBud be the week it happens?

The RedBud National will take place on Saturday, July 1. Click here for info on how to watch all the action.