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The 2017 Lucas Oil Pro Motocross Championship is almost complete, as this weekend’s 2017 Budds Creek MX marks the eleventh round of the series.

Monster Energy Report: Budds Creek MX National

Aug 212017

As the late-summer thunderstorms do their work along the eastern seaboard, the 2017 Lucas Oil/AMA Pro Motocross Championships near their finale. The Budds Creek National – round 11 of the 12-round championship series – faced some daunting weather, with heavy rainfall hitting the track Friday night, forcing the track workers to work hard to make for a raceable track come Saturday morning.

Saturday saw a track with one primary racing line (although it improved throughout the day), and heavy heat and humidity to make a tough day even tougher.


In the 250cc class, the Monster Energy/Pro Circuit Kawasaki squad started the day with terrible news: Joey Savatgy, who had won two of the last three Nationals for the team, went down hard in practice, highsiding after he clipped the downside of a jump and landing on the leg he injured a week previously in a collision with a lapped rider. He was out for the day, and with team racers Justin Hill and Austin Forkner already out injured, Adam Cianciarulo – who has never won an AMA National moto or overall – was the last man standing for the Pro Circuit squad.


And stand he did.


In moto one, Cianciarulo took the holeshot over Aaron Plessinger, Shane McElrath and the rest of the field, while points leader Zach Osborne went down in the first turn.


Cianciarulo had to fight off the advances of two-time champ Jeremy Martin in the early half of the race, but slowly pulled away as the race progressed, eventually winning his first-ever AMA National moto by over six seconds over Martin, RJ Hampshire, Shane McElrath, Plessinger, AutoTrader/JGR/Monster Energy Suzuki’s Kyle Cunningham, Colt Nichols, and Osborne.


“This is probably the most rewarding win of my career,” Cianciarulo said after moto one. “I’ve won supercross races, and of course amateur stuff, but outdoors has come hard for me. I mean, even in 2013, my rookie debut here, I think I went 14-16 or something for 15th overall. I’ve had to work at it. I’ve been down, and I’ve had my moments. It’s been difficult, but the whole team stuck behind me, and it feels really, really good to get this win.”


But he had another moto to go, and he wanted the overall.


“I mean, that’s the goal,” Cianciarulo said. “That’s the goal. I don’t want to take away anything from this moto win, of course, because it came really high for me, but I feel like I have a lot left in the tank for the second moto, and I’m certainly going to leave it all out on the track. Win, lose, or draw, when I leave here, I’m going to empty the tank out there on the track, and we’ll see how it goes...”


In moto two, it’s a good thing he had something in the tank. Early in the moto, Cianciarulo had to fight his way into the top five, sitting fourth after lap one, while McElrath led Osborne and Martin.


Cianciarulo wasn’t being patient, he just had nothing for the lead group, but halfway through the race, Martin made a mistake and went down, handing third to Cianciarulo. At almost the exact same moment, Osborne took the lead from McElrath and began to pull away. Cianciarulo sat alone in third for a while, but late in the moto, he came under attack from Plessinger and Nichols, and all of a sudden, Cianciarulo caught fire, chasing down McElrath, then making the pass with a handful of laps left.


Osborne won the moto over Cianciarulo by 1.7 seconds, but Cianciarulo’s 1-2 score got him his first-ever AMA National overall motocross victory. The Pro Circuit team – the most successful team in the history of the sport – managed to win the National with their only remaining rider, even though he’d never actually won one before.


“It’s an unbelievable emotion for me,” Cianciarulo said. “This season has been up-and-down. I’ve had good moments and bad moments, and like you said last week and the week before, I’ve been consistent, but just haven’t gotten that win, and it just seems like every weekend, the pressure builds and builds, and it’s got to be this weekend, and then it’s got to be this weekend. I think that was holding me back for a while. I was blowing it. Even last weekend, after I crashed... It was tough. I actually had Nick Wey come to Florida and work with me, and man, it made such a difference. Mitch, Bones, Ian, Zach and everyone at Monster Energy/Pro Circuit Kawasaki, and Bruce and Dan at Kawasaki, it’s an unbelievable feeling, and a dream come true for me. I’m just glad to be here.”


The win also boosted Cianciarulo up to third in the points, just in front of his injured teammate Savatgy, with one round left to run next Saturday in Crawfordsville, Indiana.


Monster Energy Kawasaki’s Eli Tomac has held the points lead for most of the 450cc National Championship, but over the stretch of the last few races, some have begun to wonder what’s going on with him. The frantically quick Eli Tomac of the early and middle rounds of the series hasn’t been spotted since Southwick four rounds ago, and his points lead has dwindled as a result.


In the first moto, Tomac came off the gate poorly, and then things got worse as he was pinballed around exiting turn one and lost even more ground. Even after passing at least a half-dozen guys on the opening lap, he came around in 12th, and could only manage to rise up to seventh at the finish, extending his streak of mediocre finishes and costing him valuable points in the process, as second in points, Blake Baggett, finished two spots in front of him, and third in points, Marvin Musquin, finished second.


But in moto two, as if someone flipped the switch, Tomac was Tomac again.


He started just outside the top five, but worked his way up to second by lap five, then quickly motored around Baggett for the lead less than two laps later, and took off.


Tomac was never headed, and ended the moto with a laptime over a half-second faster than anybody else on the track, cruising in to victory over 7 seconds in front of Baggett.


It was Tomac’s first moto win in the last eight motos, and came right when he needed it most.


He now carries a 28-point lead into the final round next weekend in Indiana, which means all he has to do is finish inside the top 10 in both motos to take home the 2017 450cc National Motocross Championship.