AMA Lucas Oils Pro Motocross Championship Series
Ironman National at Ironman Raceway
Story by Don L. Schneider
Photos by Don L. Schneider, Beth Latham and Kurt Bauer
CRAWFORDSVILLE, IN, AUG. 21-22, 2015
How fortunate once again to have a safe road trip from Oklahoma to Indiana. As I made the 916.57 miles – which was 14 hours and 22 minutes, one way – all alone, I was wondering when I will find that special lady with whom I could share these days… and that’s something I was used to, actually.
After making it to the track on Friday to check in and get my press credentials from MX Sports hostess Gabrielle Dovidio, I watched the practice for the inaugural Legends and Heroes race. [For that story, please see “Men of Iron: Legends and Heroes at Ironman – and Carmichael Wows the Crowd Once Again!” by Don Schneider, with photos by Schneider and Kurt Bauer… Editor]
After all those festivities had been completed, I made a quick stop into the local Comfort Inn; there had been no cancellations, but the manager made a call and found an open room some 25 miles away. Yes, although all 10 hotels in Crawfordsville had been booked up, I still needed a place to shower, clean up and rest my long legs. The rest areas that I had made hasty use of on the trip were a bit uncomfortable in the back seat of the Caddy.
After a good night’s sleep and a great shower, I made the return trip to the Ironman Raceway early Saturday morning. I arrived at the special VIP media entrance, which was one mile south of the main gates, and the parking area was already filled, with more than a hundred vehicle in the media parking area. However, I asked the pretty gal at the fenced gate if I could have a look-see. She said, “Yes sir, give it a try.” As I drove down the grassy area, I parked next to the fence and left room for vehicles to pass by if needed. I opened the car door and I just knew I was there: I was at the final round of the 2015 AMA Lucas Oils Pro Motocross Championship in Crawfordville, Indiana, just 45 minutes west of Indianapolis.
The atmosphere was filled with the clean air, though there was a brief whiff of pre-mix in the air, as Gared Steinke was just arriving back to his pit area, where Gwen Lauerman was helping him with his helmet and jersey.
The bluest of skies graced the area, and the sounds of announcers “Moto Mike” and Steve “Lerch” Scott welcoming moto fans had my mind in a tizzy fit, remembering all the great times at the tracks around the world.
While making my way past all the big semi-rigs with their great-looking pit areas, I stopped and spoke with Dwayne Williams of www.VitalMx.com fame. The smiles of people who see others they want to chat with for a few minutes is priceless to me. I was then thinking of the podcast that Brad Gebhardt at www.BigMxRadio.com and I had done the previous night. [That podcast can be heard at http://bigmxradio.com/podcast/ironman-national-pre-race-show-don-schneider/… Editor]
The promoters were changing the format. Usually the 250cc Pro class races first and then the 450s are the second race of the day. After the Legends and Heroes race was over, the 450s were making their way to the staging area.
Wow! The track reminded me of my former hometown track, Mother Nature’s gift: Washougal National Motocross Park in Washougal, Washington. That track is just 15 miles down the Columbia River from Portland, Oregon. I used to work for the original owner of the facility, Dave Dimeo, and his son Gary Dimeo, also a former Pro motocrosser and my boss at Aloha Auto Body in Aloha, Oregon.
Here at Ironman, the deep soil was ripped and groomed to perfection. The “Face of Godzilla” hill was an eye-appealing spectacle; the downhill portion was the steepest thing this side of Gravity Cavity at the great Hollister Hills ORV Grand Prix track, where I had last raced to qualify for a Loretta Lynn’s National with mechanics Thach Dinh and Ward Bouslough. (By the way, the next race there will be September 4-6, 2015, and you can check it out at www.ampgfimotocross.com or www.bayothg.com.)
When I looked toward the west, the massive uphill triple that was measured off at 130 feet looked very undoable. However, the 53-year-old Legends and Heroes MotoSport.com manager, Guy “Airtime” Cooper, was the first to attempt it, and then Ricky Carmichael, Jeff Emig and Jeff Stanton had been clearing it in practice earlier. All the fans were in awe as these guys twisted the throttle to the stops in fourth gear, sailing over with the ease and finesse of all the younger Pro riders in attendance.
For those who have been following the 450cc Championship this year, y’all know that KTM Factory star Ryan Dungey zipped the lid on the title while at the last round in Utah. He came to Indiana with a 93-point lead, with exactly 500 points. There were only five points separating second-place rivals RCH/ Soaring Eagle Casino/ Jimmy John’s-backed Ken Roczen (with 407 points) and JGR’s Yamaha-backed Justin Barcia (with 402).
So I was actually hoping to see Dungey aboard a KTM 250 or even a two-stroke KTM 125, like Gared Steinke. I wanted to see him possibly be a spoiler in the battle for that 250cc-class Championship title, where just two points separated Yamaha’s Jeremy Martin (with 461) and KTM World Champion Marvin Musquin (with 459).
Ryan Dungey posted the fastest timed-practice qualifying run, with two minutes and 22.577 seconds. The second fastest in practice was Justin Barcia, at two minutes and 23.626 second. Jason Anderson was third at two minutes and 24.802 seconds. Next was Christophe Pourcel at two minutes and 24.117 seconds, and Canadian National Husqvarna’s Tyler Medaglia was fifth. Josh Grant, a two minutes and 24.950 seconds, was sixth. Seventh was Ken Roczen, at two minutes and 25.236 seconds. In eighth was Trey Canard, at two minutes and 25.964 seconds. Ninth was Suzuki jockey Broc Tickle, at two minutes and 26.345 seconds, and rounding out the top 10 was Justin Bogle, at two minutes and 26.351 seconds.
In moto one, Christophe Pourcel took the early lead through the MotoSport.com holeshot area. Dungey nearly threw it away in turn four, heading toward the Face of Godzilla hill; his bike bucked him up, as his feet were almost to the seat. However, he muscled it back down and set back out for Pourcel. Jason Anderson, Justin Bogle and Dean Wilson rounded out the top five.
As they crossed the line after lap one, the sixth through 10th positions were filled by Phillip Nicoletti, Canadian rider Colton Facciotti, Ryan Sipes, Weston Peick and Andrew Short. Barcia and Roczen were battling back in 11th and 12th, respectively.
Unsurprisingly, Dungey took over the lead on lap two, and he was never threatened again. Since the real battle was for runner-up for the year, all eyes were on Barcia and Roczen as they freight-trained it together. They were running in sixth and seventh by lap three. Barcia stayed strong up until he relinquished the position to Roczen on lap 13 of 15. At the same time, Rockstar Husqvarna’s Anderson put it to Pourcel for second. Pourcel took third.
Then Roczen pushed it up another notch and displaced Pourcel for third on the white-flag lap. Rounding out the top five was Bogle. Blake Baggett, who’d started in 14th, motored up to take sixth at the checkers.
In the second moto, Barcia took the MotoSport.com holeshot, ahead of Pourcel and Dungey.
On lap three, Dungey went down, and although he was quickly up and running again, he was now in eighth.
On lap four, Roczen passed Barcia to take over the point position.
About halfway through lap seven, Dungey moved by Barcia, and it seemed like Barcia was out of physical stamina, as Broc Tickle then made a pass on him halfway through lap nine.
Then the crowd must have gotten Barcia to wake up; he is the Team USA’s Trophy Des Nations Captain for 2015, and it seemed he needed to prove something or other. Well, a second wind must have sparked Barcia’s innermost self, as he looked much better by lap 12. He passed Tickle back with three laps remaining.
At the checkers, it was Roczen crossing the line 6.256 seconds ahead of Ryan “The Locomotive” Dungey. Barcia finished third, some 32 seconds back. Tickle and Trey Canard rounded out the top five.
“Anytime I come to the track, I want to give my best,” Dungey said. “There really was no reason not to go for the win. I felt good, the bike was dialed in, and I just relaxed and had good finishes. It’s a good way to finish off the season. Now I can relax and recharge to get ready for next year. I’m glad to have wrapped up the title last week, but every race in this series is important, so I’m looking forward to finishing the season strong.
“We were running fourth at the beginning [of moto two],” Dungey continued, “so it’s a little tougher to take the lines you want when you aren’t out front. I hit a little bump and it caused a little tip-over, so I just got back up and put my head down the rest of the moto. We were able to make up the ground we needed to get the win and end the season the way we wanted. It’s been a great year, and I’m excited for what lies ahead.”
Dungey marked his seventh overall victory of the season. No one else had more than two.
Last year’s number-one-plate holder, Ken Roczen, ended the season on a high note, winning the final 450cc moto of the season on his RCH Soaring Eagle Suzuki, which must have given him a positive feeling as he goes into the off season – and faces planned back surgery. Roczen’s 3-1 tally earned him second overall. His solid result was important, giving him second in the final standings, and edging out rival Justin Barcia, who finished fourth overall with a 7-3 score.
Third overall went to Jason Anderson. It was his fourth podium of the season. Anderson wrapped up the season sixth in the standings. He came up just three points behind Christophe Pourcel.
Red Bull KTM’s Ryan Dungey also confirmed that he would not be participating in the USGP at Glen Helen in San Bernardino, California.
“I won’t be doing that race,” he said. “I think a lot of the KTM guys are.”
Dungey did confirm that he will race the Red Bull Straight Rhythm and Monster Energy Cup during this off season.
Team USA members Jeremy Martin and Cooper Webb will race the USGP on September 20. Webb is expected to race MX1 (450), while Martin will race MX2 (250).
Rockstar Energy Husqvarna’s Jason Anderson and Christophe Pourcel will race the USGP. They are expected to ride the 2016 Husqvarnas.
Results: August 22, 2015 (Round 12 of 12)
450: 1. Ryan Dungey (KTM); 2. Ken Roczen (Suz); 3. Jason Anderson (Hsq); 4. Justin Barcia (Yam); 5. Christophe Pourcel (Hsq); 6. Trey Canard (Hon); 7. Blake Baggett (Suz); 8. Broc Tickle (Suz); 9. Josh Grant (Kaw); 10. Phil Nicoletti (Yam); 11. Colton Facciotti (Hon); 12. Andrew Short (KTM); 13. Justin Bogle (Hon); 14. Dean Wilson (KTM); 15. Benny Bloss (Yam); 16. Tyler Medaglia (Hsq); 17. Ryan Sipes (Hsq); 18. Ben LaMay (KTM); 19. Kyle Cunningham (Suz); 20. Kaven Benoit (KTM).
[Stay tuned for the 250cc Pro-class portion of this event to be posted soon on Today’s Cycle Coverage… Editor]