MORGANTOWN, W. Va. — For the first time in 15 years, the Lucas Oil Pro Motocross Championship, sanctioned by AMA Pro Racing, will make a stop in the Southeast for the inaugural running of the Built Ford Tough Tennessee National.
Taking place this Saturday, June 1, at the historic Muddy Creek Raceway in Blountville, Tenn., the highly anticipated round three is sure to bring excitement to race fans throughout the south.
Muddy Creek Raceway has played host to some of the largest amateur motocross events in the country, making the third stop on the Lucas Oil Pro Motocross tour somewhat familiar to many of the racers who grew up competing in the amateur ranks. Although the facility has undergone many changes to accommodate the Nationals, its natural-terrain, great dirt and rolling hills will showcase all the components that have made Muddy Creek Raceway such a successful venue over the years.
Monster Energy Kawasaki’s Ryan Villopoto has started the 2013 season perfectly, winning all four 450 Class motos through the first two rounds of competition. This Saturday, Villopoto looks to extend his undefeated record at the Built Ford Tough Tennessee National. However, with one of the most competitive fields in Lucas Oil Pro Motocross history, Villopoto will have his work cut out for him.
Sitting second overall in the standings, reigning champion Ryan Dungey is all too familiar with the runner-up position early in the season. After James Stewart swept the first four motos of 2012, it wasn’t until Round 3 that the Red Bull KTM rider began a win streak that lasted 10 motos. Dungey has been in lead contention all season long and the Minnesota native looks to secure his first win at an all-new venue that has the potential to deliver an even playing field for everyone.
“I’ve never been to Muddy Creek before so I’ll take it with an open mind. It’s a new stop for all of us and I think it will be interesting,” said Dungey, the 2012 450 class champion.
The 450 Class is full of top-level competitors who have proven they have what it takes to be a contender this season. For example, Team Honda Muscle Milk’s Justin Barcia, who led 10 of 34 laps at round two, has proven his merit so far in his first full-time season in the 450 Class. After finishing with a (3-4) score last weekend, Barcia currently sits tied with teammate Trey Canard for third place in the point standings.
Yoshimura Suzuki’s James Stewart has had his fair share of ups and downs in the first two rounds, but the 2008 450 Class Champion remains intact for the championship chase early on. Stewart came out swinging at the opening round, capturing both holeshots and a third overall finish. Round two looked to be the same until Stewart collided with another rider in Moto 1, where he finished 15th. Stewart bounced back with a third place in Moto 2, allowing him to maintain a top five position in the standings.
In the 250 Class, several riders are looking to become the first to win the inaugural Tennessee National. Red Bull KTM’s Ken Roczen made a statement early on, sweeping the first three motos of the season. But GEICO Honda’s Eli Tomac was able to secure the overall win in his home state of Colorado last weekend, giving each rider one respective overall victory heading into Round 3.
There’s no counting out GEICO Honda’s Zach Osborne, who secured his first Lucas Oil Pro Motocross career podium finish last weekend. Osborne, a Virginia native, grew up only 30 miles from Muddy Creek Raceway and the familiarity could give the former world championship contender a possible advantage over his competition.