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Lucas Oil AMA Pro Motocross Championship Notes: Toyota Trucks Thunder Valley National

MORGANTOWN, W.Va. (June 24, 2011) – One week after a closely-contested fourth round of the season from Budds Creek MX Park, the Lucas Oil AMA Pro Motocross Championship moves west to Lakewood, Colo., for Saturday’s Toyota Trucks National at Thunder Valley MX Park.

TwoTwo Motorsports/Bel-Ray Racing’s Chad Reed currently sits atop the 450 Class standings and last weekend, the former champion captured his third win in four rounds on the heels of his fourth straight second moto victory. In the 250 Class, Monster Energy/Pro Circuit/Kawasaki’s Tyla Rattray secured his second overall win of the season and becomes the first rider in the 250 Class this summer to go consecutive rounds atop the standings.

450 Class

TwoTwo Motorsports/Bel-Ray Racing
Reed started his day at Budds Creek with a third-place finish in the opening moto. In Moto 2, he grabbed the early lead and never looked back, despite several strong challenges from Rockstar/Makita Suzuki’s Ryan Dungey. Reed’s impressive start is highlighted by his undefeated record in second motos through the first month of competition and he enters Thunder Valley looking for his first win at the track, as well as keep his rivals at bay.

“The team is doing an awesome job,” said Reed. “We have the speed and the bike to win races, and we’ve demonstrated that. It’s nice to have the lead in the points early in the season. It’s a matter of being consistent and finishing on the box every weekend in order to be in the hunt for the championship come the end of the year.”

Monster Energy Kawasaki
Ryan Villopoto’s outing at Budds Creek was equally as strong as Reed, as the two riders tied for points on the day. While his third-place effort in the final moto gave the tiebreaker to Reed, Villopoto still left Maryland with no points lost. He still remains just 15 points out of the lead and returns to Thunder Valley for the first time since 2008, when he took the overall win in the 250 Class.

Fellow Monster Energy Kawasaki rider Jake Weimer also had a solid day at Budds Creek. Weimer has improved his consistency over the last couple weeks and his 10-7 moto scores in Maryland landed him eighth overall. Weimer took his first career win at Thunder Valley in 2009 as a member of the 250 Class, and he hopes his past success will result in his strongest ride of the year on Saturday.

Rockstar/Makita Suzuki
Ryan Dungey was mere bike lengths from sweeping the day’s motos at Budds Creek. The defending champion showed tremendous speed in both motos, but wasn’t able to work his way into the lead. As a result, he settled for third overall on the heels of back-to-back runner-up finishes, and ultimately just lost one point in the championship standings. Dungey took the win at Thunder Valley in 2010, and there couldn’t be a better time to break through for his first victory of the 2011 season.

“It was another good, solid weekend,” said Dungey. “We got off to really good starts on my RM-Z and I was able to get second in both motos. Overall, my Rockstar Makita Suzuki felt great and we were solid throughout the day. We just have to keep moving forward and plugging away. We’ve got Lakewood this weekend and I’m really looking forward to it. Last year we were able to get a win there in the AMA Pro Motocross Championship race as well as the Motocross of Nations. It’s always a great track.”

Brett Metcalfe enjoyed one of his strongest outing of the season at Budds Creek. After a strong start to the day in practice, Metcalfe overcame a tough start in the opening moto to finish sixth. A better start in the final moto put Metcalfe in position to run inside the top five, but he ultimately settled for another sixth-place effort and landed sixth overall. He currently sits fifth in the standings and heads to a track he enjoys this weekend.

“It was a pretty positive day for me at Budds Creek,” said Metcalfe. “I went 6-6 for sixth overall and there were some positives and negatives, but overall I felt pretty good. My Rockstar/Makita Suzuki is working great and the team has been doing a great job getting me more comfortable out there. I think that’s why I was able to qualify faster. I’m happy and feel that Budds Creek was my best riding of the season. I’m looking forward to Lakewood. It’s a track I’ve done well at in the past. And I think it is a track that suits me. I’m hoping to go there and put my Suzuki up on the podium where I know it can be.”

Muscle Milk/Toyota/JGR
Davi Millsaps’ return to Budds Creek resulted in a seventh-place finish overall. The JGR rider has rode consistent throughout the season and even in the face of adversity, has found a way to fight through. As a result, Millsaps currently occupies fourth place in the championship standings. He enters Thunder Valley looking to keep the momentum going.

American Honda
Budds Creek originally signified the end of Kevin Windham’s 2011 Lucas Oil AMA Pro Motocross Championship season. Windham capped off his fill-in role for American Honda with a strong effort, posting a pair of fourth-place efforts to finish fourth overall. After the success, Windham decided he couldn’t stay away and will be back one more time on Saturday at Thunder Valley.

“I feel I have good momentum going into Colorado after finishing fourth last weekend at Budds Creek,” said Windham. “I’m having such a good time this season, and the fans’ support at each round has played a big role in my decision to race some additional rounds in the series.”

Josh Grant made his return to action at Budds Creek, following a lengthy absence from competition due to injury. Grant’s first race of any kind since January resulted in a solid start to his 2011 season, posting 8th and 10th-place finishes to finish 10th overall.

“It felt so good to be back racing last weekend,” said Grant. “I loved getting to race my factory Honda again, and getting to spend the weekend with all the Honda crew. My goal was to finish in the top 10 last weekend and I achieved that. I’m looking to build on that result on Saturday.”

Valli Motorsports/Rockstar Yamaha
Ricky Dietrich posted a strong effort at Budds Creek to continue his solid start to the 2011 season. The off-road veteran challenged for a top-10 finish in both of the day’s motos, ultimately posting a pair of 11th-place efforts for 11th overall.

Troy Lee Designs/Lucas Oil Honda
Christian Craig also kept his impressive start to the season going. At Budds Creek, Craig finished just outside the top 10 in each moto, posting 13-12 moto scores. His 12th-place overall finish solidified his position in the championship standings, currently sitting in ninth.

Red Bull KTM
Although it’s taken four rounds, Andrew Short broke into the top-10 in the 450 Class standings following Budds Creek. Short’s effort in Maryland was one of his best of the season, with 9-8 moto scores putting him ninth overall. This weekend, Short heads to his hometown track at Thunder Valley, and the opportunity to compete in front of family and friends always serves as extra motivation for the veteran rider.

“I had a better weekend last week, but still struggled in a few areas,” said Short. “I definitely need to improve my starts. I am working my butt off and hoping to get closer to the top five as we near the halfway point of the season.”

In just his second race this season, Mike Alessi found himself in the mix at the front of the field. Alessi got off to fast starts in both motos and battled with the likes of Reed, Villopoto and Dungey. Once he settled into a groove, Alessi posted a pair of solid fifth-place finishes to finish fifth overall. After two rounds, Alessi already occupies 11th in the 450 Class standings.

250 Class

Monster Energy/Pro Circuit/Kawasaki
The entire Mitch Payton-led squad continues to dominate the 250 Class. Through four rounds of competition, Payton’s riders have won every moto and overall of the season. Currently, Tyla Rattray sits atop the championship standings and the South African rider was able to capture his second win of the season last weekend at Budds Creek.

Not far behind sits Dean Wilson. The sophomore rider has yet to claim an overall win this summer, but he’s been a consistent challenger, boasting three moto victories and sitting just four points from his teammate in the standings. At Budds Creek, he finished second overall and will look for that first win of the season at Thunder Valley.

Blake Baggett occupies the third spot in the 250 Class standings, giving Payton a clean sweep of the championship podium to this point. Baggett has a pair of overall wins to his credit, but suffered from misfortune at Budds Creek, finishing seventh overall. He’ll look to bounce back on Saturday.

Broc Tickle rounds out the talented Pro Circuit lineup, coming off a season-best fifth-place finish at Budds Creek. Tickle has shown consistent improvement from week-to-week and despite sitting seventh in the standings, he will look to challenge for the podium this weekend.

GEICO Honda
Justin Barcia secured his first podium finish of the 2011 season at Budds Creek, showing impressive resolve despite suffering from illness. Barcia’s 6-2 moto scores landed him third overall and he hopes that the momentum from the performance carries into Thunder Valley.

Eli Tomac also performed well at Budds Creek, despite not getting the starts he had hoped for. Tomac posted a pair of fifth-place finishes to bring home fourth overall and close the gap on Blake Baggett for third in the 250 Class standings.

DNA Shred Stix/Star Racing Yamaha
Kyle Cunningham started his day at Budds Creek with a solid fourth-place effort in the opening moto. However, misfortune struck in Moto 2 and resulted in a 15th-place effort. Despite that, Cunningham still finished inside the top 10, in eighth overall.

Gareth Swanepoel boasted the strongest effort in the Star Racing stable at Budds Creek. The South African rider began with a ninth-place finish in the opening moto, but posted a strong second moto performance by finishing fourth, which helped him grab sixth overall.

Rockstar Energy Suzuki
Martin Davalos finished ninth overall at Budds Creek, to lead the way for the Rockstar Energy Suzuki team. The veteran rider’s pair of 10th-place moto scores resulted in ninth overall and it also boosted him into ninth in the 250 Class standings.

“My Budds Creek weekend was decent overall,” said Davalos. “Now, we’re heading to Thunder Valley and that’s my favorite track of the entire series. It reminds me of home because the altitude is pretty high. I’m looking forward to going there and getting some good starts and running up front. I’ve got the speed; I just need to keep out of trouble.”

WMX Class
The Motorcycle-Superstore.com Women’s Motocross Championship also returns to action on Saturday at Thunder Valley. With two of eight rounds completed, American Honda’s Ashley Fiolek holds an eight-point lead over DNA Shred Stix/Star Racing Yamaha’s Jessica Patterson. Last season at Thunder Valley, Patterson dominated en route to the win, but Fiolek is coming off her first win of the 2011 season at Freestone and will look to maintain the momentum.

Television coverage for Saturday’s Toyota Trucks Thunder Valley National begins with live coverage of the opening motos for both the 450 and 250 classes on FUEL TV, beginning at 3 p.m. EST. Same-day, final moto coverage of both classes will air back-to-back on SPEED, beginning at 12 midnight EST with the 450 Class, immediately followed by 250 Class coverage at 1 a.m. EST.

For more information on the 2011 tour, please log on to www.allisports.com/motocross.