Defending champ sweeps motos under the lights at Ballance Moto X
Round 5 of the AMA ATV Motocross National Championship Series made its way to Oakland, Ky., where defending champion John Natalie made history by sweeping the first-ever ATVMX night race at Ballance Moto X. The specially-designed night track was made up of technical whoop-sections and quick lap times, and the unique atmosphere made for a spectator-friendly weekend of racing.
Central Kentucky hosted a regular day of amateur racing at the home track of nine-time GNCC ATV champion Bill Ballance, but the evening show brought an all-new element to the race program. The AMA Pro ATV class featured two motos under the lights, while the Pro-Am Production class highlighted the amateur portion of night racing, and the Women and 50cc Sr. (6-8) classes wrapped up their second motos under the lights.
Motoworks/Can-Am’s John Natalie was the top qualifier heading into the evening sessions and he maintained his momentum as the gate dropped for Moto 1. It was Texas native Craig Porter who grabbed the SSi Decals Holeshot Award in Moto 1, but Natalie put himself into the lead position after getting around Porter and Chad Wienen on the opening lap.
Wienen Motorsports/SSi Decals/Walsh Race Craft/Yamaha’s Chad Wienen is coming a victory in his home state last round. He settled in behind the defending champ Natalie and the duo kept within two seconds of each other throughout the entire 17-lap race. Moto 1 came down to the final moments between Natalie and Wienen, and this time it was Natalie who came out on top.
“I was determined to get that fastest qualifier award this afternoon and I was pumped to take it home,” says Natalie. “We got the bike dialed in after last night’s practice and everything was working well today.”
Baldwin Motorports/PEP’s Josh Upperman got off to a good start in Moto 1 and spent a majority of the race battling with Motoworks/Can-Am’s Joel Hetrick for the third place spot. Hetrick’s holeshot was less-than-desirable but the young gun pushed his way inside the top three by mid-moto, only to have Upperman reclaim the third place position by the end of the moto.
TBROWN Yamaha Racing/Moto-X-Perts rider Thomas Brown got a back of the pack holeshot in Moto 1, but quickly made his way into the top five battle with Hetrick and Upperman. From there, Hetrick put a charge on Wienen for the second place spot but a late pass attempt caused Hetrick to lose some time and Wienen went on to take second.
Natalie grabbed his first SSi Decals Holeshot Award of the season in Moto 2 and the rest was history for the defending champ. Natalie laid down the fastest lap of the moto on lap 5, but Hetrick wasn’t letting him go anywhere fast. Wienen put in a valiant effort to catch the Motoworks/Can-Am teammates near the end of Moto 2, and the top three came through the checkers with less than 10 seconds in between.
“I really liked the whole night race this weekend,” says Hetrick. “It added another element to the racing and I’m actually a night person, so it worked out well for me!”
Upperman finished in the fourth place position in Moto 2, but it didn’t come easy. Brown held the upper hand for a majority of the race, but Upperman made the move late in the race to claim the fourth place spot, giving him fourth overall for the day with a 3-4 score. Brown followed in fifth place, taking home fifth overall.
Lonestar/SSi Decals/Get Dirty MX’s Nick DeNoble went 6-6 for a sixth overall on the day, his best finish since the opening round in Georgia. Derek Swartfager (Honda) finished seventh overall, ahead of rookie Jeffrey Rastrelli (Suzuki) who matched his season-best eight place overall in Round 3. Another rookie, Mark Madl (Honda), took home ninth overall, while Ohio’s Adam Clark rounded out the top ten.
Tennessee’s Cody Gibson was the highlight of the Pro Am Production class once again as he swept both motos of the evening. Ohio’s Tyler Hamrick (Honda) came in second overall with a 3-3 score, while Pennsylvania’s Nick Moser went 2-5 for third overall.
The 2012 AMA ATV Motocross Championship heads to High Point Raceway in Mt. Morris, Pa. June 16-17 for round six of the ten-race circuit.
|Ballance Moto X National||2012 ATV Motocross Pro Class Standings|
|1.||John Natalie||Can-Am||1 – 1||1.||Chad Wienen||Yamaha||235 (3 wins)|
|2.||Chad Wienen||Yamaha||2 – 3||2.||John Natalie||Can-Am||220 (1 win)|
|3.||Joel Hetrick||Can-Am||4 – 2||3.||Joel Hetrick||Can-Am||189 (1 win)|
|4.||Josh Upperman||Honda||3 – 4||4.||Josh Upperman||Honda||184|
|5.||Thomas Brown||Yamaha||5 – 5||5.||Thomas Brown||Yamaha||169|
|6.||Nick DeNoble||Honda||6 – 6||6.||Derek Swartfager||Honda||137|
|7.||Derek Swartfager||Honda||7 – 7||7.||Nick DeNoble||Honda||127|
|8.||Jeff Rastrelli||Suzuki||9 – 8||8.||Jeff Rastrelli||Suzuki||115|
|9.||Mark Madl||Honda||7 – 10||9.||Harold Goodman||Honda||113|
|10.||Adam Clark||Honda||10 – 9||10.||Adam Clark||Honda||111|