Byrd Back on Top of Podium at Steel City MX
Round six of the 2011 AMA ATV Motocross National Championship Series presented by DWT traveled to Steel City Raceway for yet another exciting weekend of racing. Saturday’s podium celebration saw fresh faces as American Honda’s Joe Byrd claimed his first overall win of the season, while Ballance Racing’s Thomas Brown took a season-best second and Motoworks Can-Am’s rookie Chase Snapp finished an impressive third overall – marking his first ever podium finish in the Pro class.
Current points leader Chad Wienen captured his very first SSi Decal Holeshot Award of the season in moto one. John Natalie tucked in behind his Can-Am teammate right away, launching what appeared to be the beginning of another classic Can-Am battle to the finish.
Baldwin Motorsports PEP Racing’s Josh Upperman led a string of anxious riders in an early battle for the third position as Thomas Brown, Chase Snapp and Joel Hetrick diced back and fourth behind the Honda rider. Around the halfway mark, Upperman misjudged a downhill double and went down pretty hard, paving the way for Brown and the two rookies. The following lap, Natalie cartwheeled through the section in front of the mechanic’s area, jamming so much dirt into his exhaust that he couldn’t get his bike started – losing his second place position.
Wienen set his own pace out front, about fifteen seconds ahead of the second place battle between Motoworks Can-Am’s Snapp and Ballance Racing’s Brown. Brown put the heat on Snapp towards the end of the moto but wasn’t able to make the pass after Snapp went double, double, double in a tricky rhythm section. Snapp went on to secure an impressive second place finish in his first year of Pro ATV racing.
“My Can-Am is working awesome this year,” says Snapp. “Thomas and I were pretty close all weekend, he rode tough out there. I knew he was behind me in the first moto but I just tried to keep my focus and ride hard. That second moto I messed up in the second corner and just couldn’t hang with him.”
Nick DeNoble grabbed his first SSi Decals Holeshot Award of the year in moto two and led the first three laps of the race as American Honda’s Joe Byrd and Travis Moore battled for the second spot close behind. DeNoble held his own out front until a valve gave way in his engine on lap four, causing him to drop back and eventually pull off the track. After making a few changes in bike setup, Byrd found the rough Steel City course to be much easier to conquer out front as he moved past the broken down DeNoble for the lead.
Yamaha’s Thomas Brown turned his mid-pack holeshot into a season-best second place finish after powering past Moore and Upperman early on, where he then set his sights on Byrd for the lead. Brown put his Yamaha within two seconds of the race-winner on the last lap, but wasn’t able to seal the deal for the win. Byrd went on to take his first race-win since his win at Red Bud in 2009, giving him the overall with a 4-1.
“The track was real fast and hard packed this weekend. I came off the line in second and once I got the lead I knew I needed to keep some cushion but I didn’t want to ride too hard and make a mistake,” says Byrd. “We had some bad luck earlier in the season but American Honda has been really supportive. We made some changes with suspension and motor work, I guess some ATVs work and some don’t. It’s been a while but I’m happy to be back on top of the box.”
Brown secured a second overall with a 3-2 in front of rookie Chase Snapp who went 2-7 for third, his first ever Pro podium. Walsh Racecraft Suzuki rider Jeremy Lawson went 6-4 for fourth overall while Baldwin Motorports’ Josh Upperman rounded out the top five with 9-3.
“I couldn’t get around Chase in that first moto, he was riding good. The second moto I got a better start and just put my head down and tried to stay focused,” says Brown. “The Ballance Racing team works hard, we’ve been building off each moto and we’re moving forward every weekend. Moto Experts has my motors running so smooth right now and Maxxis had my tires hooking up good this weekend, I’m just really stoked right now.”
The Pro Am Production class has been a constant battle to the finish line this season with heavy hitters like Casey Martin, Jeffrey Rastrelli, Mark Madl and Aaron Meyer. This foursome never fails to provide an exciting show week after week in the Pro Am Production class, exchanging race positions and often times race winners throughout the weekend.
Martin grabbed the moto one holeshot aboard his Honda machine but the points leader wasn’t on top for long as Rastrelli took the inside line to power past Martin and into the lead, never looking back. Meanwhile, Madl put the move on Meyer to capture the third spot behind Martin. Madl and Martin diced back and fourth throughout the moto with Martin coming out on top by less than half a second over Madl. Meyer clenched the fourth spot with Jesse Barnes wrapping up the top five in moto one.
Rastrelli edged out Meyer for the moto two holeshot with Casey Martin close behind in third. Rastrelli pulled away from Meyer and Martin in the first half of the race as they were immersed in a two-way battle for second. Near the halfway point, Madl kicked it into high gear, quickly gaining two positions from Meyer and Martin before eventually catching the leader Rastrelli. With only two laps to go, Madl reeled in Rastrelli through the downhill straight and took over the lead just in time to secure the moto two win. Rastrelli still got the overall with 1-2 and Madl took home second with a 3-1 for the day. Casey Martin went 2-4 for third in front of Ohio’s Aaron Meyer who went 4-3 for fourth overall. Nicholas Moser of Pennsylvania rounded the top five with a 6-5 finish.
Things heat up as Casey Martin now sits only two points ahead of Mark Madl in the Pro Am Production Championship point standings. Aaron Meyer sits 23 points behind the leader in third place while Rastrelli only trails Meyer by three points in fourth. Ronnie Higgerson holds a comfortable fifth overall.
The AMA ATV Motocross Championship Series heads to Spring Creek MX in Millville, Minn., June 4 and 5, with Pro class racing starting at 1 p.m. Saturday, supported by 37 amateur classes throughout Saturday and Sunday. For more information, please visit http://www.atvmotocross.com/.
|Can-Am Steel City ATV National Results||ATV Motocross Pro Class Standings|
|1.||Joe Byrd||Honda||4 – 1||1.||Chad Wienen||Can-Am||250 (3 wins)|
|2.||Thomas Brown||Yamaha||3 – 2||2.||John Natalie||Can-Am||240 (2 wins)|
|3.||Chase Snapp||Can-Am||2 – 7||3.||Josh Upperman||Honda||221|
|4.||Jeremy Lawson||Suzuki||6 – 4||4.||Jeremy Lawson||Suzuki||205|
|5.||Josh Upperman||Honda||9 – 3||5.||Joe Byrd||Honda||180 (1 win)|
|6.||Chad Wienen||Can-Am||1 – 17||6.||Chase Snapp||Can-Am||176|
|7.||Travis Moore||Honda||7 – 8||7.||Thomas Brown||Yamaha||157|
|8.||Devin Heimes||Suzuki||8 – 9||8.||Nick DeNoble||Honda||155|
|9.||John Natalie||Can-Am||14 – 5||9.||Travis Moore||Honda||144|
|10.||Harold Goodman||Honda||10 – 11||10.||Joe Hetrick||Honda||142|