Tennessee National Belongs To Roczen

Ken Roczen earned his third overall victory in the Lucas Oil Pro Motocross 450 class this year on Saturday at Muddy Creek Raceway. (Simon Cudby Photo)
Ken Roczen earned his third overall victory in the Lucas Oil Pro Motocross 450 class this year on Saturday at Muddy Creek Raceway. (Simon Cudby Photo)
Ken Roczen earned his third overall victory in the Lucas Oil Pro Motocross 450 class this year on Saturday at Muddy Creek Raceway. (Simon Cudby Photo)

BLOUNTVILLE, Tenn. – The Red Bull Tennessee National, round five of the Lucas Oil Pro Motocross Championship, sanctioned by AMA Pro Racing, produced a wild afternoon of competition on Saturday from one of the newest tracks in the series at Muddy Creek Raceway.

Needing a win in the final 450 Class moto, Red Bull KTM’s Ken Roczen did just that to ensure his third overall win in just five career starts in the premier division. In the 250 Class, Yamalube/Star Racing Yamaha’s Cooper Webb broke through for his first career win to become the 75th different winner in the history of the division.

GEICO Honda’s Eli Tomac made his anticipated 450 Class debut at Muddy Creek following a lengthy recovery from a broken collarbone. Last year’s 250 Class title winner made his presence felt immediately by setting the fastest lap of practice, and then carried that momentum into the opening moto by grabbing the Motosport.com Holeshot Award.

As Tomac and Roczen positioned themselves out front, a huge first turn pileup included most recent winner James Stewart and his Team Yoshimura Suzuki in addition to Discount Tire Racing/TwoTwo Motorsports’ Chad Reed, and Toyota/Yamaha/N-Fab/JGRMX’s Josh Grant.

Roczen made a pass on Tomac for the lead on the opening lap only to go down the next time around and fall to fourth. Tomac seized the opportunity to lead his first ever 450 Class moto, impressively holding off Team Honda Muscle Milk’s Trey Canard and a hard-charging Dungey for over half the race. Dungey made his way by Canard and set his sights on Tomac out front, closing in lap-by-lap and eventually making the pass on lap nine.

Roczen rebounded from his early trouble to follow Dungey past Tomac and into second, pitting the teammates in a battle for the win. Dungey maintained his advantage throughout the remainder of the race to take the moto win, his first since the opening round, while Roczen followed in second. Tomac finished third with Canard fourth, while Stewart passed nearly the entire field to finish fifth.

Knowing he needed a good start in order to have a shot at his second overall win of the season, Dungey raced to the Motosport.com Holeshot Award in Moto 2, only to be passed by Roczen on the opening lap. The KTM riders proceeded to consistently pull away from the field from that point on, meaning the win would be decided between the teammates. Tomac slotted into third off the start and maintained control of the podium spot despite pressure from Canard. Out front, Dungey closed in on Roczen as they approached lappers in the late stages of the race but was unable to mount a serious challenge, which allowed Roczen to steal the overall win. Tomac followed in third.

Both Dungey and Roczen finished the afternoon with identical moto results, but Roczen’s better second moto finish gave him the edge in the tiebreaker.

“I felt good out there. I got a good start [in the second moto] and even had a close call out there with about two laps to go which caused me to lose a bit a time, but I still made it happen,” said Roczen, who has finished third or better in every moto this season. “I’m happy it’s over. It was another good weekend and we were able to keep the points lead steady.”

“All in all it was a good day,” said Dungey. “I pushed it that whole second moto. I tried [to close in on Roczen] and got fortunate with the lappers coming in there, but then they came my way and it kind of averaged out. We gave it all we had and that was all I can do.”

It marked the third time this season that the KTM duo has finished 1-2 overall. Tomac’s pair of solid third-place finishes guaranteed a spot on overall podium in his 450 Class debut, with Canard fourth (4-4) and BTO Sports KTM’s Andrew Short fifth (6-8). Stewart endured even more misfortune in the second moto to soldier home with an 11th-place finish and land eighth overall (5-11), one round after his dominant win.

With no points being exchanged between Roczen and Dungey, 16 markers still separate the pair at the top of the championship standings. Stewart’s challenging day dropped him to 43 points out of the lead in third, with just one point separating he and Canard in fourth.