Spring Creek Preview: Excitement in Store

The most exciting race of the series is set for Round 8 at the La Crescent Wine & Spirit Spring Creek National. Coming out of the best weekend of the 2016 Lucas Oil Pro Motocross Championship is breaking news that promises even more action for this weekend.

Not only did the 450 class see the battle it had been waiting for all season take place between Eli Tomac and Ken Roczen, but this week the class will see the long awaited return of key riders that are sure to mix things up.

In the 250 class there has been a major swing in momentum, and with Cooper Webb now leading the charge for the class it will be up to Joey Savatgy to snap back into rhythm or move aside to give Jeremy Martin a chance at the top.

Before we dive into this week’s exciting stories to watch, here is the tune-in information you need to know. Practice will begin at 11 a.m. ET on Promotocross.com and will continue to broadcast the action throughout the day. Moto 1 for both classes will also be available on MAVTV at 2 p.m. ET, while both moto 2 for both classes will be shown on NBCSN with 450 starting at 7 p.m. ET and 250 getting underway at 11 p.m. ET. Click here for all of the La Crescent Wine & Spirit Spring Creek National tune-in information.


Eli Tomac battled Ken Roczen at The Wick 338 last weekend to triumph with 1-1 moto finishes on the day. (Photo: Simon Cudby)

 

TOMAC TURNS ON, ROCZEN NOT WORRIED

Tomac turned it on this past weekend at The Wick 338 and let Ken Roczen remember that he is not invincible and the season isn't over.

With 1-1 finishes on the day, Tomac took to the sand at Southwick to give the fans the battle for first they had been waiting for all season. Tomac led the races for a total of 19 laps at the Red Bull Southwick National, and for the first time in the 2016 series he earned the overall win on the day. It was a true show that Tomac put on. From finding the perfect series of turns to set Roczen up for the pass in moto 1, to getting a pass denied only to find another route before crashing and doing it all over again in moto 2—Tomac was relentless. The question remains, though: Can he keep up this momentum and earned enough points to overtake Roczen for the title?

Roczen did not seemed phased at the end of the day for Round 7. Keeping his cool on the podium during his post race interview, Roczen seemed very comfortable with his loss considering he still finished 2-2 on the day and knowing that Southwick is the only serious "sand" track of the series. Whether or not it was the sand (which it absolutely could have been), Roczen received a bit of a wake-up call when Tomac found ways to not only pass him once over the course of the day but three times to take both moto wins.

 


After being sidelined for the majority of the series, James Stewart is set to return for Round 8 at Spring Creek MX. (Photo: Simon Cudby)

 

RETURNING 450 RIDERS TO SHAKE UP ROUND 8

As soon as the sand settles and the series seems to be taming down for the front-runners of the 450 class, top riders are set to return for Round 8 and are surely going to add a new layer of excitment.

Throughout the 2016 series the 450 class has watched as James Stewart and Blake Baggett sustained injuries in Round 1, then it was Dungey and Canard not returning for Round 4 and then they lost Cole Seely going into Round 6. Each rider was a top-5, if not better, contender at the time of their injuries. To add to that already long list, Justin Bogle will not be racing Round 8 following four consecutive holeshots due to a crash sustained in moto 2 at Southwick.

Now, as we enter Round 8, a slew of 450 riders are ready to return and they are doing so with just enough time left in the series to stir things up all over again. First it was announced that Trey Canard would be ready to ride for Spring Creek, then came the news of James Stewart and then a final twist came when it was heard that Dean Wilson will joining the action for the first time in this 2016 outdoors series. For Canard it was a matter of playing it safe and monitoring the progress of his recovery from a bulging disk, and now he is feeling healthy enough to race. Stewart sat out at first due to injury then longer as he awaited the birth of his first child, now both of those concerns are behind him and he is ready to race Round 8. Wilson was definitely the wild card of the returning bunch as he has been out due to injury since Round 2 of the 2016 supercross season, but following rides at Spring Creek press day it is official that he will be entering the outdoors ring.

So where does this leave the rest of the class? Marvin Musquin, Justin Barcia and Broc Tickle had each shown major gains in the class points overall following the departures of the 450 class' elite. For Musquin it may have been a matter of getting comfortable on the bigger bike for his first series on a 450, but for Barcia it was a matter of finding his stride. Both Musquin and Barcia seem to have gotten their riding dialed at this point, but will now need to readjust at the gates with familiar faces lining up. As for Tickle, he had really been playing his consisten game well. It is not likely his riding will see much adjustment coming into Round 8, but there is now a serious chance that his position in the point standings may receive a negative outcome with these riders returning.

 


Cooper Webb maintained his momentum at The Wick 338 to earn his third consecutive overall win of the series. (Photo: Simon Cudby)

 

WEBB KEEPS CLIMBING, SAVATGY KEEPS FALLING

Webb came out swinging at Southwick, and with 2-1 moto finishes he was able to maintain his growth in gap of points over Savatgy while he rode on to win his third straight overall on the season. Oddly enough, right as Webb seems to have found his groove, Savatgy seems to have fallen off of his. 

At first it was Savatgy finishing second overall behind Webb, then he dropped back seventh overall on the day at RedBud but at Southwick he finished at ninth overall and it has allowed Webb to gain 37 points more than Savatgy in the overall point standings. Savatgy has been suffering with finishes due to crashes sustained during the motos. Though they seem to be fluke crashes around turns without being in the heat of battle against another rider, they are crashes nevertheless and they need to stop. Round 8 will be important for Savatgy to not only regain the confidence in the corners to win a moto but also as an important stepping stone in recovering lost points while trying to rettake Webb for the series lead.

If Savatgy cannot find his stride in Round 8, Jeremy Martin is ready to step up and make his own run at the points leader. Right now J. Martin is sitting in third for class points overall and only one point behind Savatgy. Both J. Martin and Alex Martin had a rough Round 4 showing as they each experience major bike malfunctions in separate motos, and since then they have both had the occasional poor moto result but overall have been steadily finishing in the top-5. J. Martin has been finishing slightly better than his brother on the grand scale, but if Savatgy shows more signs of slipping then he will have both of the Brothers Martin to deal with as Alex is sitting only 20 points behind Jeremy.

 


Despite a crash in moto 2, Zach Osborne rode to a 8-7 finish at Southwick to maintain as fifth in class points overall. (Photo: Simon Cudby)

 

THE BATTLE FOR 250 TOP-5 INTENSIFIES

Currently holding down the fifth position in class point overall is Zach Osbourne. Osborne had a standout ride in Round 4, where he led 11 laps to earn a moto win and overall podium, and has since stayed regularly in the mix with multiple moto and an overall podium finishes. Osborne is currently where he is in class points overall due to his consistency every race and ability to not get caught up in any of the crashes. However, during moto 2 at Southwick while doing battle with Savatgy for fifth Osborne dipped his front tires and going down. Osborne saw his worst overall finish (seventh) since his ride in Round 4. Osborne’s secret to success is staying out of the crashes, so assuming he returns to form at Spring Creek he is likely to maintain his top-5 place in class points overall.

Forkner came into Southwick as not only the rookie in the class but also as the first-timer at the track. Still, Forkner made major gains at The Wick 338 and managed to earn the fastest qualifying time, a top-5 finish in moto 1, a second place finish in moto 2 and ultimately he found his first overall podium of his career. Pair all that effort from Southwick with a holeshot like the one he earned at RedBud for Round 6 and we could see him climbing out of sixth and toward the top-5 in class points overall after Spring Creek. 

Aaron Plessinger, currently seventh in class points overall, looked to be returning to for at Southwick with 4-5 moto finishes and fifth on the day overall. In moto 1 Plessinger found himself in second early on in the race and did well to hold off J. Martin while battling through a handful of tight turns. Plessinger reminded everyone on the track that he can fight with the best of them, especially if he grabs a good start out of the gate.

Arnold Tonus is another worth keeping an eye on. Early on in the season Tonus couldn’t find his way into the top-10 at the days end, but then in Round 5 at Tennessee he scratched his way into a 10th place finish on the day. in Round 6 he bumped his way up to ninth on the day and then last weekend he finished sixth overall after earning his first moto podium of the season with a third in moto 1. If nothing else, Tonus is finding his comfort zone in this second half of the season, and if he continues to push you can bet he will better his current eighth place in class points overall.

In related 250 class news, Shane McElrath will likely be sitting out for Round 8 at Spring Creek MX. McElrath has been on a tear in recent rounds with holeshots in Rounds 5 and 6 and even found his way to the front of the pack to lead 5 laps at Southwick. McElrath, currently in ninth for class points overall, took a very heavy crash while battling for third during the final lap at Southwick and sustained a concussion, a shoulder separation, bruised lungs and seven broken ribs.