Natalie and Upperman complete podium
Riding high after his opening round victory two weeks ago, Chad Wienen (Motorsports/SSi Decals/Walsh Yamaha) used 2-1 moto finishes at Muddy Creek Raceway in Blountville, Tenn. to secure his second straight victory of the 2014 Mtn. Dew ATV Motocross National Championship, sanctioned by AMA.
Just like at the opening round, Wienen’s path to victory wasn’t easy as his fellow contenders stepped up in their efforts to unseat the champion. Muddy Creek Raceway presented some changes to its popular layout, which were well received by the riders and played a major role in the outcome of each moto. From new jumps to off-camber corners, track position was at a premium and starting up front paid big dividends.
Motosport.com/RRR/Ford/DWT/Walsh/Fox Honda’s John Natalie started the afternoon by grabbing his third SSi Decals Holeshot to start to opening moto, with Wienen giving chase. The duo opened a small gap in the opening laps over Two Seven Motorsports/DASA/Maxxis/Fireball Racing Honda’s Brad Riley. As the field began to sort out, Natalie and Wienen pulled away while Riley continued to amass one of his best pro moto perfomances. Eventually, BCS Performance Can-Am’s Josh Creamer moved passed Riley into third but was caught up in a crash with Wienen Motorsports/SSi Decals/Walsh Yamaha’s Thomas Brown just a short time later.
While both riders returned to action, their misfortune allowed JB Racing/DWT/Mtn. Dew Live Wire Can-Am’s Joel Hetrick to take over the final spot on the podium. Out front Wienen pressured Natalie throughout the moto, showing a wheel on occasion, but Natalie held him off for his second moto win of the season. Hetrick finished third, with Baldwin Motorsports/PEP/Upperman Racing Honda’s Josh Upperman in fourth and JB Racing/Cheerwine Can-Am’s Jeffrey Rastrelli rounding out the top five.
As the gate dropped on the second moto, Upperman became the first rider other than Natalie to capture the SSi Decal Holeshot. Upperman kept his Honda out front for several laps before Wienen, who started second, made his move on the lead and took over the top spot. Natalie asserted himself into third place while a battle ensured behind him between Hetrick, Brown, and Rastrelli.
Hetrick and Brown went wheel-to-wheel for several laps before contact forced Hetrick off the track. Brown assumed fourth and Rastrelli fifth. Hetrick returned to action in 10th, but started to fight his way back through the field. Wienen went on to post a dominant moto win and secure the overall victory, while Upperman maintained control of second with Natalie in third. Brown finished fourth, with Rastrelli edging out a hard-charging Creamer for fifth.
Wienen’s 2-1 results duplicated his efforts from the opening round for the overall win. Natalie grabbed the runner-up spot overall for the second straight round (1-3), while Upperman secured his first overall podium result of the season in third (4-2). Hetrick finished fourth overall (3-7), while Rastrelli finished fifth (5-5).
“I had to play it smart today, it’s a long season,” says Wienen. “We are only the second round in and if you force the issue, you can end up on the ground. In that second start, we were all rubbing up to the first corner trying to get position. I started to the inside of John [Natalie] and that seemed to be the difference maker. Everyone is working really hard and I’m trying to play it cool. Going home with the red plate helps me work harder as we head into this break.”
Creamer narrowly missed the overall podium on his Can-Am after finishing fourth in the final moto. His moto scores of 3-4 landed him fourth overall, while Wienen’s teammate Thomas Brown rounded out the top five overall with 5-5 moto finishes.
Wienen extended his lead in the AMA Pro ATV standings to six points over Natalie. Hetrick sits third, 18 points out of the lead, while Upperman occupies fourth, 25 points out. Rastrelli rounds out the top five, 33 points behind.
The Mtn. Dew ATV Motocross National Championship will take a break of about six weeks before returning to action for the third round of the 2014 season on May 17-18. Legendary High Point Raceway in Mt. Morris, Pa., will be the site of the Maxxis ATV Stampede.