DELMONT, Pa. — Steel City Raceway hosted the penultimate round of the Lucas Oil Pro Motocross Championship, sanctioned by AMA Pro Racing, on Saturday with its annual Labor Day Weekend stop in Western Pennsylvania.
Just a couple weeks removed from capturing his second career 450 Class title, Red Bull KTM’s Ryan Dungey, of Belle Plaine, Minn., raced to his ninth straight overall victory of the season with another impressive sweep of the motos. In the 250 Class, GEICO Honda’s Eli Tomac, of Cortez, Colo., captured his fourth overall win with a dominant 1-1 outing that tightened the championship heading into the final round of the season.
Dungey began the afternoon with a dominant effort in the opening moto. The KTM rider took the lead out of the first corner and never looked back, leading all 15 laps and winning by over 31 seconds to put himself in position to capture the overall.
In the second moto, Dungey had to climb his way through the field from outside the top five. At the conclusion of the opening lap, he had moved into fourth and slowly began picking off his rivals. Out front, MotoConcepts Suzuki’s Mike Alessi, of Victorville, Calif., opened up a comfortable margin as rain started to fall.
On Lap 3, Dungey moved into second, with the rain helping close the gap between him and Alessi. As the weather cleared, the battle for the lead ensued. Alessi fended off Dungey’s advances for several laps, even forcing a small bobble by the KTM rider, but on Lap 10, Dungey made the pass and led for the final four laps to secure the win.
“It was nice to come out of here with a win today, this place has been good to me in the past (in the 250 Class),” said Dungey, who won for the first time at Steel City Raceway in the premier division and also moves into sole possession of third on the 450 Class all-time wins list with 23 victories. “There were some good line choices. The second moto got a little slippery when that rain came, but I put in good laps and limited the mistakes. Luckily, I just went off the track a bit (with the bobble) and didn’t lose too much ground. I want to continue (winning) with these last two races. They mean just as much as the 10 before.”
Alessi finished second (3-2), while Jeff Ward Racing Kawasaki’s Josh Grant, of Riverside, Calif., captured his team’s first podium in third (4-4).
In the 250 Class, Tomac left little doubt that he would be the rider to beat on Saturday. After posting the fastest practice lap of either class earlier in the day, Tomac carried the momentum into the motos. In Moto 1, points leader Blake Baggett, of Grand Terrace, Calif., grabbed the holeshot aboard his Monster Energy/Pro Circuit/Kawasaki, but was passed shortly thereafter by GEICO Honda’s Justin Barcia, of Monroe, N.Y.
Once out front, Barcia established a solid lead. Tomac worked his way into second by Lap 3, following a fourth-place start, and set his sights on his teammate. The Honda duo set the pace of the moto for the next 10 laps, engaging in a see-saw battle. Tomac gained an advantage on Lap 12 and made the pass stick, closing out the final three laps.
In Moto 2, Tomac positioned himself into the lead early, capitalizing on a good start and leading all 13 laps without any pressure from his rivals. He crossed the line with 10-seconds over field to secure the victory.
“It was the best day I could ask for,” said Tomac, who moved into second in the 250 Class standings following his performance. “I came and did what I needed to do, and now I’m within a moto of the points lead. Justin (Barcia) and I definitely got close out there (in the first moto), but we are just trying to chase Blake (Baggett) right now, so there isn’t a lot of tension between us. I’ve gotten good starts (recently), and I think these are the best starts I’ve had all season. I think that’s what the difference was today. I’m one of those guys that likes to get out front early and set that pace.”
Red Bull KTM’s Ken Roczen, of Germany, finished in the runner-up spot (3-2), while Barcia, who fell to third in the championship standings, rounded out the podium (2-3).
Baggett’s fourth place finish (4-4) helped him maintain control of the standings heading into next weekend’s final round, holding a 14-point lead over Tomac and 18 points over Barcia. This trio along with Roczen, who sits 45 points out of the points lead, enters the final round with a mathematical shot at the title.