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Images from 2018 Muddy Creek Motorcross event in Blountville, TN

Tomac and Barcia Do The Tennessee Two-Step

Jun 252018

The lone southeast visit in the Lucas Oil Pro Motocross Championship proved to be the most memorable for Monster Energy, as Eli Tomac and Justin Barcia left their mark on Muddy Creek Raceway. The annual Tennessee National provided arguably the most demanding track conditions of the season, but the Monster Energy duo rose to the occasion in the 450 Class to grab the top two steps on the overall podium and post a 1-2 sweep for the Monster Army.

Tomac had to fight hard to earn his fifth straight victory, but in the end it was enough to keep him unbeaten in the win column. The Monster Energy Kawasaki rider was his dominant self in the opening moto, but after his worst start of the season in Moto 2 the reigning champ was forced to dig deep and claw his way into contention. He put in the work, made tough passes on the best riders in the division, and gained enough spots to secure his spot atop the podium.

Barcia has been knocking on the door all season, consistently running alongside Tomac and fellow top contender Marvin Musquin all season long. Barcia has made a habit out of putting his Monster Energy/Yamaha Factory Racing machine up front this summer, and he was the most consistent rider at Muddy Creek despite just missing out on the overall win, garnering a pair of runner-up finishes behind his two most prominent rivals.

In the 250 Class, a wild afternoon of action gave way to the most unique results of the season thus far, but in the end the Monster Energy/Yamalube/Star/Yamaha squad left Tennessee with both a podium result and possession of the red plate.

450 Class Moto 1

A rainy morning gave way to partly cloudy skies and mint track conditions when the gate dropped on the first moto, where Tomac led the field into the first turn, only to have Ken Roczen slip underneath and steal the holeshot. Not one to be denied, Tomac immediately applied pressure on Roczen and hounded the Honda rider for several laps before making a sweet inside cut on the German exiting a corner to surge into the top spot.


Behind the battle for the lead Barcia was taking advantage of his top-five start. After he made quick work of Weston Peick for third, the Factory Yamaha rider closed in on the battle for the lead and came within a few bike lengths of Tomac before the champ dropped the hammer on Roczen. Once Tomac seized control of the top spot, Barcia followed into second not long after, and from there the Monster duo left the field behind.


Tomac distanced himself from Barcia over the final portion of the moto and took his eighth win in nine motos by 7.9 seconds. Barcia put even more space between he and Roczen, finishing second by nearly 10 seconds.


The dominant effort by Tomac and Barcia gave them a healthy edge over Musquin in the battle for the overall after Musquin crashed on the opening lap, a result of contact with Barcia’s rear tire, and soldiered home to fifth.


450 Class Moto 2

When the gate dropped on the final moto Barcia and Roczen raced side-by-side into the first turn, from which Roczen emerged with the holeshot and early lead. Barcia was in relentless pursuit of the top spot after starting second and stormed into the lead before the completion of the opening lap. Once out front with a clear track ahead Barcia dropped the hammer, knowing both Musquin and Tomac were behind him.


Tomac didn’t fare nearly as well as his fellow Monster athlete out of the gate. In fact, Barcia was responsible for pinching off Tomac as they stormed up the hill, which put the champ mid-pack as the entered the first turn. The Kawasaki was mired well outside the top 10, but true to Tomac’s nature he went to work and made passes happen as quickly as possible. By the time he completed the opening lap, Tomac was running 14th, but he had much more work to do with his closest rivals up front.


Barcia’s pace in first helped him establish a small gap on the field, but he soon was forced to deal with Musquin, who started third and easily move past Roczen for second. Barcia’s defense of Musquin was admirable, but after his troubles in Moto 1 the Frenchman was hell bent on getting into the lead. Barcia’s speed and line choice forced Musquin to make a big move to cut under the Yamaha and grab the lead, but Barcia kept pace and looked to respond.


While the battle of front stabilized, all eyes were on Tomac and his march through the field. It took the champ just two laps to break into the top 10, and then another five laps before he was in the top five. He made quick work of Peick for fourth and set his sights on Roczen for third. The battle with the German would ultimately decide Tomac’s fate in the overall classification, and with just seven-and-a-half minutes left in the moto Tomac made it look easy with a quick pass on Roczen that effectively locked up the win.


The champ’s pace was exceptionally faster than that of both Barcia and Musquin, but Barcia responded by dropping his pace once he received word that Tomac was on his heels. With the overall win in hand, Tomac backed things down.


Musquin went on to take the moto win, while Barcia made a late run to close in from second. Tomac followed in third.


Just one point separated Tomac and Barcia in the overall standings, but it ultimately resulted in a banner day for Monster Energy by sweeping the top two spots on the podium.


“I pushed to see if I could catch Justin [at the end of Moto 2], but he was going fast enough that I didn’t need to force the issue. We knew we had the overall so there wasn’t a need to risk it. It was good to get another win and keep this momentum rolling. I knew Musquin, Barcia, and Roczen all got a good starts and were up front, so my goal was to make enough passes to get the win, and that’s what we did.”


It was the best result for Barcia this season, and equals his best finish since the final round of the 2016 season.


Tomac’s fifth consecutive win and perfect start to his title defense has moved him to an advantage of 32 points over Musquin in the 450 Class championship standings. Barcia remains solidly in third, 26 points behind Musquin for second.


450 Class Results

1. Eli Tomac, Monster Energy Kawasaki (1-3)

2. Justin Barcia, Monster Energy/Yamaha Factory Racing (2-2)

3. Marvin Musquin, KTM (5-1)

4. Ken Roczen, Honda (3-4)

5. Blake Baggett, KTM (4-5)

16.   Alex Ray, Monster Energy/Yamaha Factory Racing (18-13)


450 Class Standings

1. Eli Tomac, Monster Energy Kawasaki – 242

2. Marvin Musquin, KTM – 210

3. Justin Barcia, Monster Energy/Yamaha Factory Racing – 184

4. Ken Roczen, Honda – 169

5. Blake Baggett, KTM – 164

15. Alex Ray, Monster Energy/Yamaha Factory Racing – 47

250 Class Moto 1

For point leader and two-time winner Aaron Plessinger, the key to his 2018 success has been a direct result of his improved starts. The Monster Energy/Yamalube/Star/Yamaha rider had positioned himself at the front portion of the field more often than not through the first four rounds and that confidence vaulted him to his first holeshot of the season in the opening moto at Muddy Creek.


Plessinger edged out his biggest rivals, the Martin brothers, to start Moto 1 with the lead, but trouble struck early when he tucked the front end. The small mistake proved costly, but Plessinger remounted quickly and got back into the action just outside the top 10. In his absence, Alex Martin took the lead, with Jeremy Martin in second. Behind them, Monster Energy/Yamalube/Star/Yamaha rookie sensation Justin Cooper made a challenge for third.


The Martins eventually swapped spots, which put Jeremy into the lead, but Cooper continued to apply pressure on Alex for second. That continued attack forced a mistake out of the elder Martin, which allowed Cooper to move into second. He maintained his hold on the runner-up spot through to the finish.


Martin took the moto win, with Cooper right behind. Plessinger fought valiantly to break back into the top 10 and finish ninth. The Monster Energy/Pro Circuit/Kawasaki duo of Austin Forkner and Joey Savatgy were impressive as well and battled one another for fifth place throughout the moto. In the end, Forkner outlasted his veteran teammate to secure fifth, while Savatgy settled for sixth. In his second race back from injury Frenchman Dylan Ferrandis finished 11th, but he would make his presence felt in a big way in the next moto.


250 Class Moto 2

As the field exited the first turn to start Moto 2 it was Alex Martin to grabbed the holeshot just ahead of his teammate Sean Cantrell and Ferrandis. The Frenchman refused to let the lead slip away and got around Cantrell for second on the opening lap before applying pressure on Martin for the lead. Plessinger emerged from the fray in fourth, while Forkner served as the only other Monster rider inside the top 10.


Cooper’s hopes for a shot at a first career victory were dashed on the opening lap when he came together with Jeremy Martin on the opening lap, which sent both riders to the ground. Martin was done for the day, while Cooper restarted dead last.


Ferrandis continued to carry the torch for both Monster Energy and his Star Yamaha squad, as he was all over Martin for a series of laps. Despite the pressure, Martin weathered the storm and continued to hold on to his very slim lead. As the moto reached the halfway point, lapped traffic put some distance between the lead duo.


Plessinger eventually moved into third, while Savatgy broke into the top 10 and continued to climb up the standings. Forkner was forced to recover from an early incident that dropped him outside the top 15, but he also did well to claw his way back into the top 10.


Out front, Ferrandis mounted another serious challenge for the lead in the waning stages of the moto. A major mistake by Martin saw him crash spectacularly out of the lead, which allowed the Frenchman to cruise by. From there Ferrandis never looked back to take his first moto win of the season after just his third gate drop of the summer. A surging Shane McElrath followed in second, while Martin recovered for third. Plessinger settled for fifth, with Savatgy seventh and Forkner ninth. Cooper did all he could to finish 28th.


When the points were tallied, McElrath broke through for his first career win. Ferrandis led the way for Monster Energy with a stellar runner-up finish highlighted by his moto win. Savatgy finished sixth, with Plessinger right behind in seventh. Forkner and Cooper ensured five Monster Energy riders were inside the top 10 by finishing eighth and 10th, respectively.


Despite an afternoon in which he wasn’t at his best, Plessinger still managed to add to his lead in the 250 Class championship standings. He now holds a 23-point lead over Jeremy Martin. Cooper and Forkner also maintained their spots inside the top five, while Savatgy broke into the top 10.


250 Class Results

1. Shane McElrath, KTM (3-2)

2. Dylan Ferrandis, Monster Energy/Yamalube/Star/Yamaha (11-1)

3. Chase Sexton, Honda (8-4)

4. Alex Martin, KTM (12-3)

5. Jordon Smith, KTM (7-6)

6. Joey Savatgy, Monster Energy/Pro Circuit/Kawasaki (6-7)

7. Aaron Plessinger, Monster Energy/Yamalube/Star/Yamaha (9-5)

8. Austin Forkner, Monster Energy/Pro Circuit/Kawasaki (5-9)

10. Justin Cooper, Monster Energy/Yamalube/Star/Yamaha (2-28)

17. Colt Nichols, Monster Energy/Yamalube/Star/Yamaha (10-20)


250 Class Standings

1. Aaron Plessinger, Monster Energy/Yamalube/Star/Yamaha – 199

2. Jeremy Martin, Honda – 176

3. Alex Martin, KTM – 170

4. Justin Cooper, Monster Energy/Yamalube/Star/Yamaha – 158

5. Austin Forkner, Monster Energy/Pro Circuit/Kawasaki – 143

10. Joey Savatgy, Monster Energy/Pro Circuit/Kawasaki – 112

13. Garrett Marchbanks, Monster Energy/Pro Circuit/Kawasaki – 72

14. Dylan Ferrandis, Monster Energy/Yamalube/Star/Yamaha – 68

27. Colt Nichols, Monster Energy/Yamalube/Star/Yamaha – 12