Wienen retains lead heading into season finale
Joel Hetrick has been on a late-season tear as he tries to wrestle away the 2015 Mtn. Dew ATV Motocross National Championship away from three-time defending champion Chad Wienen. This Saturday the pair each took a moto at RedBud MX in Buchanan, Mich.
Hetrick (Hetrick Racing/Corrosion Specialties Honda) earned the overall victory via tiebreaker, but couldn’t chip away at Wienen’s (Wienen Motorsports/Maxxis/SSi Decals/Walsh Race Craft Yamaha) championship lead in the penultimate round of the season.
A warm afternoon in Southern Michigan provided conditions that challenged the riders as the afternoon wore on, both as a result of the higher temperatures and an increasingly rough RedBud track. This combined to make an afternoon filled with hard-fought, exciting racing.
Perhaps to no one’s surprise, Hetrick kicked off the day by once again posting the fastest lap of time practice, which he has done eight times in nine rounds this season. When the motos got underway, Vechery Racing/Never Sleep Designs Honda’s Casey Martin claimed his first SSi Decals Holeshot Award of the season. Behind him, Hetrick and Root River Racing’s Josh Upperman banged wheels in the first turn as they fought for track position, forcing Hetrick to briefly back off the throttle and get shuffled into the field.
With a lead of over three seconds to his favor before the completion of the first lap, Wienen put himself into a virtually unbeatable position from the get go and put the pressure squarely on Hetrick to keep pace. Despite having so many riders in front of him, Hetrick found a way to climb back into second by Lap 2 and from there did all he could to track down Wienen. The gap between the two riders stabilized at about six seconds for most of the moto before Wienen eventually pulled away to take the win by 13.870 seconds. With Hetrick taking second, Maxxis Yamaha, powered by Moto-Xperts, rider Thomas Brown was able to make a last-lap pass on Vechery Racing/Never Sleep Designs Honda’s Ronnie Higgerson for third. JB Racing/Can-Am/Liquid Wrench’s Jeffrey Rastrelli was fifth.
Moto 2 proved to be an opportunity for Hetrick to bounce back from what he surely considered a frustrating first moto, and he put himself at the front of the field immediately by grabbing another SSi Decals Holeshot Award over Rastrelli and Wienen. Hetrick moved out to over a second lead by the completion of the opening lap and with Rastrelli sitting between Hetrick and Wienen, it was the window Hetrick needed to open an insurmountable advantage.
Wienen moved into the runner-up spot by Lap 3, but continued to gradually lose ground to his championship rival throughout the remainder of the moto. Hetrick completed his wire-to-wire moto win by taking the checkered flag 6.262 second ahead of Wienen. Brown once again finished third after moving into podium position early in the moto. Rastelli was fourth, with Higgerson fifth.
By virtue of their identical moto scores, Hetrick (2-1) and Wienen (1-2) ended the afternoon tied for the overall win. However, Hetrick’s triumphant effort in Moto 2 awarded him the tiebreaker and a hard-fought victory. Brown’s consistency landed him third (3-3), while Rastrelli (5-4) and Higgerson (4-5) tied for fourth, with Rastrelli getting the edge.
With identical point totals for the afternoon, Hetrick was unable to gain ground on Wienen in the AMA Pro ATV standings; a welcome consolation for Wienen after missing out on the overall win. A total of 15 points separate the duo and they will enter the final round as the only two riders mathematically eligible to win the championship. Brown is all but a lock for third in the final standings and currently sits 51 points out of the lead. Rastrelli (-154) and Upperman (-156) will continue their battle for fourth, with just two points sitting between them.
AMA Pro ATV Overall Results (Moto Results)
- Joel Hetrick, Seneca, Pa., Honda (2-1)
- Chad Wienen, Galena, Ill., Yamaha (1-2)
- Thomas Brown, Sanger, Texas, Yamaha (3-3)
- Jeffrey Rastrelli, Palm City, Fla., Can-Am (5-4)
- Ronnie Higgerson, Cuter, Ill., Honda (4-5)
- Nicholas Gennusa, Wall Township, N.J., Yamaha (7-6)
- Tyler Hamrick, Cortland, Ohio, Honda (8-8)
- Josh Upperman, Louisville, Ohio, Honda, (6-10)
- Brett Musick, Verdunville, W.Va., Yamaha (9-9)
- Vital Cazenave, Union City, Tenn., Honda (15-7)
AMA Pro ATV Championship Standings
- Chad Wienen, Galena, Ill., Yamaha – 432
- Joel Hetrick, Seneca, Pa., Honda – 417
- Thomas Brown, Sanger, Texas, Yamaha – 381
- Josh Upperman, Louisville, Ohio, Honda – 278
- Jeffrey Rastrelli, Palm City, Fla., Can-Am – 276
- Nick Gennusa, Wall, N.J., Yamaha – 268
- Ronnie Higgerson, Cutler, Ill., Can-Am – 247
- Vital Cazenave, Union City, Tenn., Honda – 202
- Brett Musick, Verdunville, W.Va., Yamaha – 192
- Tyler Hamrick, Cortland, Ohio, Honda – 191