Spring Creek preview: Martin brothers hope to strike blow on home soil

July 20, 2017

Osborne and Tomac control their respective point standings, but their championship rivals will try to chip away at Round 8

Will a trip home to Spring Creek be what Alex Martin needs to close the gap on Zach Osborne? (Photo: Jeff Kardas / Racer X Online)

After a week off, the 2017 Lucas Oil Pro Motocross Championship is heading north to Minnesota for Round 8 of the season at Spring Creek Motocross Park.

And when you talk about Spring Creek, you have to talk about the Martin brothers.

Millville, Minnesota is of course the home of Jeremy and Alex Martin, and Spring Creek is the track their parents own and the track they grew up riding. Not surprisingly, this track has been kind to them in years past.

Jeremy's career results at Spring Creek: 4th (2013), 1st (2014), 2nd (2015), 1st (2016). Obviously, that's quite good.

As for Alex, his overall results in Millville haven't been as gaudy, but he did join his brother on the podium last year by finishing third.

This year, the brothers' home-track race comes at a pivotal time: With the 2017 championship battle in the 250 Class already past the halfway point, they are facing a mounting deficit and a dwindling amount of time to overcome it.

Zach Osborne, who has held the red plate all year long, has been cruising in recent weeks and enters Spring Creek on the heels of back-to-back overall wins (going 2-1 in both) at RedBud and Southwick. In the process, Osborne has bulked his points lead up to 45 over Alex Martin and 59 over Jeremy Martin.

Osborne's success is the subject of this week's…

Lucas Oil Pro Motocross Stat of the Week
Zach Osborne has only led 28% of the laps in the 250 Class but has won 43% of the motos and 57% of the overalls and holds a 45-point lead. (For comparison, Eli Tomac has led over 44% of the laps in the 450 Class but has just a 19-point lead and has scored fewer total points than Osborne.)

The keys to Osborne's big points lead: consistency and an ability to make passes. Though he only has two holeshots (by contrast, the Martin brothers have combined to take eight holeshots in 14 motos), Osborne has won nearly half of all 250 Class motos and has an average finishing position of 2.6.

In other words, Osborne hasn't done his damage by dominating races start-to-finish, but instead by putting himself in position to consistently reach the podium and often challenge for the lead later in races.

Let's isolate just the past four motos. Here's how many laps each of the top three riders have led during the last two rounds (RedBud and Southwick).

Zach Osborne: 18 laps led
Alex Martin: 18 laps led
Jeremy Martin: 17 laps led

Yet, what do they have to show for it? Osborne finished top-two in all four motos (and won two of them), Alex finished exactly third in all four, and Jeremy won one moto but failed to crack the podium in the other three.

Zach Osborne held off Alex Martin and Dylan Ferrandis for a rare wire-to-wire moto win at Southwick. (Photo: Shawn Smith / ProMotocross.com)

As a result, here's how many points each rider accrued during that span.

Zach Osborne: 94 points
Alex Martin: 80 points
Jeremy Martin: 71 points

The parity in the 250 Class has been evident this year, but when it comes to the title race, Osborne is finding ways to get it done week in and week out.

The question for Spring Creek: Can either of the Martin brothers strike a blow before the title slips away any further?

Tomac in control in the 450 Class
The battle for the 450 Class title remains ongoing, but it's essentially been whittled down to a two-man race after Jason Anderson was unable to race Southwick. Here's a look at where the top five in the class left things off heading into Round 8.

Eli Tomac (291 points): Once the presumptive title favorite, the Monster Energy Kawasaki rider is back in control. He has now won five straight motos and three straight overalls. He holds a 19-point lead over Baggett, has all the momentum and is heading to a track where he once had a 1-1 sweep in 2014.

Blake Baggett (272 points): Baggett has finished on the podium in 10 of the last 11 motos, but was hampered by a thumb injury at Southwick. He still posted 2-2 finishes but was unable to challenge Tomac in either moto. According to Racer X Online, Baggett's MRI confirmed a suspected torn ligament, but it won't require immediate surgery and shouldn't cause him as much discomfort going forward as it did last time out.

Marvin Musquin (219 points): A struggle with a knee injury this season pretty much knocked Musquin out of title contention, but he seems to be getting healthier. Southwick wasn't a good race for him though — he went down early in Moto 1 and had to rally back to get fourth, then he crashed hard in Moto 2 and could not finish the race. The Red Bull KTM rider remains a threat for wins and will at least be in the fight for third in points.

Jason Anderson (216 points): A crash earlier in the week left Jason Anderson unable to race at Southwick. It was a devastating blow to his title hopes, but he suggested on social media that he would return for Spring Creek. Like Musquin, Anderson is capable of playing a spoiler role as he battles for victories and a spot in the top three of the point standings.

Dean Wilson (198 points): The streak is still alive, as Wilson has finished top-10 in 14 of 14 motos this year, but the Rockstar Husqvarna rider is coming off his best outing of the season. After landing on the Moto 2 podium and the overall podium at Southwick, Wilson will look to continue the momentum.

Blake Baggett is still chasing Eli Tomac in the 450MX point standings. (Photo: Shawn Smith / ProMotocross.com)

Two other riders trying to ride some momentum into Spring Creek are Cooper Webb and Cole Seely. Webb set a new career high with a third-place finish in Moto 1, and Seely had a pair of fifth-place moto results.

Another rider to keep an eye on is Team RMATVMC rider Benny Bloss, who is expected to make his Lucas Oil Pro Motocross season debut this weekend after recovering from a shoulder injury suffered during supercross. After joining what was then the BTO Sports KTM team in 2016 and moving up to the 450 Class, Bloss was one of the season's biggest revelations. He finished sixth in points thanks to a strong second half that included 14 straight finishes of 11th or better to close the summer.

One rider who won't be on the gate is Josh Grant. The veteran racer underwent knee surgery last week to fix an injury he sustained at Southwick. His timetable for return is four to six weeks, putting the rest of his season in doubt.

Watch live coverage from Spring Creek on Saturday, July 22. Click here for info on how to watch.