Points leader Natalie struggles to 10th place finish
There was a noticeable absence at this weekend’s Suzuki Summer ATV National at Sunday Creek Raceway as Motoworks Can-Am‘s Chad Wienen missed his first race of this season after undergoing surgery just last week. Although Wienen will not be racing again this season, the ATV Motocross family will continue to follow and support Wienen in his recovery efforts.
Round 8 of the AMA ATV Motocross National Championship Series presented by DWT took over the grounds of Sunday Creek Raceway in Millfield, Ohio, for the first time ever in the history of the series. A small rain took place in the early afternoon, creating an interesting dynamic for the first set of motos, but as soon as the rain stopped and the sun came out, it was a perfect day for ATV racing.
Motoworks Can-Am’s Jeremie Warnia was the fastest qualifier after taking advantage of the dry track conditions during the morning practice sessions.
“The track was awesome for practice, I prefer when it’s dry definitely. My Can-Am was running really good and I just found smooth lines out there,” says Warnia.
As a part of the Independence Day celebrations at Sunday Creek Raceway, opening ceremonies consisted of not only the National Anthem but also a top-notch fireworks display that preceded the AMA Pro class start. To add to the excitement, Mother Nature tacked on a blanket of showers as the Pro riders lined up for moto one. Ohio’s Josh Upperman shot off to grab the SSiDecals.com Holeshot Award, adding to his collection on the year. Upperman lead the Can-Am of Chase Snapp until he slipped up early on, allowing the rookie Snapp to move into the lead.
“I got a good jump out of the gate, in a mud race like that you just want to get out front early and I did that for about the first half a lap but then I got a little squirrely but I got back on and rode safe and smooth the rest of the race,” says Upperman.
Upperman held tight behind Snapp in the beginning of the race and the rain continued to fall, making the track conditions slippery at best. Several riders fell victim to the slick track early on, making for a lapper-infested race for the front-runners. By mid-moto Snapp, Upperman and Ballance Racing’s Thomas Brown had lapped their way up to seventh place.
“It was crazy how many lappers we came up on, I don’t think they even realized they were getting lapped so it got a little difficult in their roost for a while,” says Snapp. “I’m not usually a mud rider but I came out of the first corner in third, got into second and then Upperman went off the track so I capitalized on that and just rode my own race and tried to stay smooth.”
Warnia got off to a great start in the mud and put himself into the fourth position in front of teammate John Natalie, who came through the finish line looking at his bike, eventually pulling over to the mechanic’s area. Jeremy Lawson struggled off the start but put his Walsh Race Craft Suzuki within striking distance of Warnia by mid-moto. Warnia eventually pulled off the track, later claiming that there was water in his air box that caused him to not finish the moto.
Joel Hetrick capitalized on Warnia’s withdrawal, putting the pressure on Lawson for fourth. On the last lap, Lawson bobbled and spun off the track, allowing Hetrick to cruise by and take fourth as Lawson finished fifth.
American Honda‘s Joe Byrd appeared to have bike problems throughout the moto as he pulled on and off the track several times.
After a small intermission and a few turns of the disc following the morning’s rain, the Sunday Creek crew provided stellar track conditions for moto two. The SSiDecals.com Holeshot Award once again went to Upperman, but not without a fight from Brown, who rode the wheel of Upperman for the entire first lap. Brown quickly began fading after the first lap; later explaining that he had to wear his sight lap goggles in the moto after an issue before the race. Since the goggles didn’t have tear offs, Brown couldn’t see in front of him.
Hetrick rocketed past Brown and jumped on the back of Upperman’s Honda early on, showing all signs of taking over the lead but Snapp and Lawson weren’t letting him go. The duo cruised through the rhythm section side-by-side, each stealing a position away from Hetrick. Lawson’s Suzuki was sandwiched by this year’s blazing rookies for a substantial amount of time, but once Lawson broke free it was all about catching the leader. Lawson made a valiant effort, turning out some of the fastest lap times of the day, but wasn’t able to make up all the ground he lost on the start.
Brown finally got his goggles situated and made a run for the rookies, first passing Hetrick and then Snapp. Brown put in a solid effort toward the end of the moto, finishing third and taking home the third overall.
“This win definitely feels awesome, I’d like to thank my entire team for this weekend – the bike was set up perfectly for the track conditions. And this place was awesome, I hope we come back again next year,” says Upperman. “I’m going to go back home and work hard. John [Natalie] is going to be a tough one to beat, we all want a championship this year and it’s going to be tough to do but we’ll just keep looking forward and hope for the best.”
Natalie put together a tenth overall after experiencing bike problems in moto one. Natalie now holds the points lead over Upperman by only seven. Wienen has the third spot over Lawson and Chase Snapp rounds out the top five, only 12 points ahead of Thomas Brown.
The AMA ATV Motocross Championship Series heads to Unadilla Raceway in New Berlin, Ny., July 16 and 17.
|Spring Creeek MX Results||ATV Motocross Pro Class Standings|
|1.||Josh Upperman||Honda||2 – 1||1.||John Natalie||Can-Am||307 (2 wins)|
|2.||Chase Snapp||Can-Am||1 – 4||2.||Josh Upperman||Honda||300 (1 wins)|
|3.||Thomas Brown||Yamaha||3 – 3||3.||Chad Wienen||Can-Am||297|
|4.||Jeremy Lawson||Suzuki||5 – 2||4.||Jeremy Lawson||Suzuki||279|
|5.||Nick DeNoble||Honda||6 – 5||5.||Chase Snapp||Can-Am||244|
|6.||Joel Hetrick||Honda||4 – 13||6.||Thomas Brown||Yamaha||232|
|7.||Travis Moore||Honda||10 – 8||7.||Nick DeNoble||Honda||214|
|8.||Devin Heimes||Suzuki||9 – 12||8.||Joel Hetrick||Suzuki||196|
|9.||Adam Clark||Honda||7 – 14||9.||Joe Byrd||Honda||194 (1 win)|
|10.||John Natalie||Can-Am||16 – 6||10.||Travis Moore||Honda||190|