450 Race Report:
In timed qualifying, Grant ended up second, less than two tenths of a second slower than his teammate and points leader Eli Tomac. Behind them came Marvin Musquin, Monster Energy/Yamalube Yamaha’s Cooper Webb, Jason Anderson, and 35 other racers.
Musquin took the lead to start moto one over Cole Seely and Christian Craig. Grant soon joined them, and then fought his way into second over the next few laps. Eli Tomac started well outside the top 10 and passed his way by Seely at about the halfway point, then did likewise a few laps later with Craig before setting his sights on his teammate in second. With only two laps to go, Grant seemed to slow significantly, which allowed Tomac to catch and pass him, and at the finish it was Musquin over Tomac, Grant, Craig, Anderson, Dean Wilson, Seely, Blake Baggett, Monster Energy/JGR/AutoTrader Suzuki’s Weston Peick, and Webb.
Although it’s often the case that Tomac can win races almost without regard for where he starts, he acknowledged between motos that he was going to need to start better than he did in moto one if he was going to end up winning the Glen Helen MX National.
“[I need] to stop being buried going up that second hill,” Tomac said. “No excuses, though. We have the long start here, so it was all on me that time. Marvin got out front and ran away with it. So, I’ve got to be closer the next race to compete with him. I was feeling good as the laps were going, but like I said, too far back...”
Grant’s reason for slowing late in the race became apparent when his team switched out his motorcycle’s engine between motos, reportedly citing an unknown transmission problem. They swapped out Tomac’s engine as well, just to be safe.
“Obviously we’ve got to get a good start, but I’m just glad to be in front of all my hometown fans,” Grant said after his fourth podium finish in a row, going back to the Las Vegas Supercross at the beginning of the month. “It’s pretty rad to hear everybody screaming and all the banners and stuff. It’s awesome to be able to do this for how many years I’ve been doing it and still have that support. It feels good.”
Craig got the holeshot to start moto two, and he had Baggett all over him right from the start. Anderson soon joined them out front, and the pair fought their way by Craig, who eventually went down and broke his hand. The crash handed third to Musquin.
However, things fell apart for Tomac and Grant on the opening lap. Grant was running near the front when he made a mistake and went down, and his gas cap came undone in the crash, forcing him to pit for more fuel just to be safe since he had no idea how much he actually lost. That put him well behind. At exactly the same moment in the same turn, Tomac also went down, but his fall came from a front-brake malfunction that seemed similar to the one he suffered at the Dallas Supercross earlier this year. He stopped in the pits, and just as at the Dallas SX, his team ended up cutting his brake line and sending him back out to face the Glen Helen hills with only a rear brake.
Out front, Baggett held Anderson off for a while, but Anderson eventually found his way by down the start straightaway to take the lead and score his first-ever 450cc MX moto win. Baggett was second in front of Musquin, Broc Tickle, Justin Bogle, Peick, Wilson, Seely, Martin Davalos, and Monster Energy/JGR/AutoTrader Suzuki’s Justin Barcia.
Musquin took the overall win with a 1-3 score over the 5-1 of Anderson and the 8-2 of Baggett.
Grant and Tomac fought their way through the field valiantly. Grant caught up as far as 17th despite having to repeatedly tighten his gas cap throughout the race, only for front-fork issues to eventually put him out of the moto. To even get around Glen Helen without a front brake would be difficult for even experienced riders. Tomac was passing professional motocross racers without a front brake. On the last lap, Tomac found his way by Monster Energy/Team Kawasaki’s Dakota Tedder for 19th, where he would finish, salvaging two crucial championship points.
Musquin now leads the championship by 15 over Tomac as the series heads to Tomac’s home state for round three next weekend.