Everyone loves a shakeup, and we got one at round six of the AMA Motocross Nationals at Budds Creek. Motocross is anything but predictable, but in the mud, just take the numbers and stats and throw them out the window. In the mud, moto is governed by Murphy’s Law, and Ryan Dungey learned that at Budds Creek, winning the first moto and then having a relatively disastrous second moto. Ken Roczen, meanwhile, had a steady day, gaining points on Dungey but not setting the world on fire like we hoped, and even Marvin Musquin took an unexpected win on the day with 7-1 moto scores in the 250 class. Let’s take a look at some key points of the Budds Creek National.
1. Ryan Dungey is at least partially human
Mud races have historically come with a black cloud over Ryan Dungey. Not that he can’t ride it - he is actually a very strong mud rider, coming from Minnesota. But Dungey has had weird luck in the mud. At Southwick in 2011, for example, his Suzuki would not start at the line for moto two, then miraculously fired after the race started, allowing Dungey to stay in the championship hunt. At Budds, he dominated moto one in the semi-muck, then grabbed a dream start in moto two when the track had become much more creek-like, only to stick the KTM in the mud on the landing of the first jump and take a trip over the bars. It was a huge wreck, but in typical Dungey fashion he just jumped up as quickly as possible and got back in the race. He made it up to 11th before a bad line choice rendered him helplessly stuck while the leader Barcia came around to lap him. Dungey’s 12th in that moto was by far his worst result of the season.
2. Justin Barcia can ride in the mud
Speaking of Justin Barcia, the JGR Yamaha rider from upstate New York put his pedigree to work in the garbage weather to take his first ever 450 overall win in the Nationals. His first win ever was in 2009 at a muddy Southwick, so it’s perfectly fitting that Barcia hit yet another career milestone in the rain. Barcia was on a completely different level from the rest of the field in that moto, gleefully hopping around the track while the rest of the riders struggled to survive and to not become depressed. It was probably the most dominant moto we have seen in the mud since Ricky Carmichael lapped the field at Millville in 2006.
3. The fans love two-strokes
After Gared Steinke made some serious noise in the moto underground by qualifying for the 250 class at High Point on a YZ125, the core moto fans have been raving about riders on two-strokes in the Nationals. At Budds, Steinke again qualified for the 250 class on his 125, but it was privateer Cody Gragg who stole the two-stroke spotlight: he finished in 13th in the wasteland that was 450 moto two on a YZ250. It was the first time a two-stroke has finished in the top 15 of a National in the last decade.
4. Marvin Musquin has his hands full
Marvin Musquin still managed to come out on top at Budds even with a relatively stressful moto one comprised of a lot of riders in his way. The track was especially one-lined after the rains in the morning, and a bad start meant that Musquin had to sit in agonizing patience to make passes while the leaders pulled away. Luckily, his championship nemesis Jeremy Martin also had strokes of bad luck throughout the day, including stalling on the last lap of moto one and giving the win to his brother, Alex. But now in the series, Jeremy has a few riders in his corner that are serious front runners; Cooper Webb returned to racing at Budds, and Alex Martin has been an amazingly unexpected addition to the podium regulars. Both of those riders are not racing for a title, and both have incentive for Jeremy to win the title. Marvin Musquin still has the only advantage that really matters right now - more wins and more points - but when team tactics come into play later in the series, he will be looking to riders like Jessy Nelson and Justin Hill to put themselves in the mix, too.
5. There are more spoilers than we thought
Coming into Budds Creek, we knew that the battle for the 450 title was yet another battle of the titans that are Roczen and Dungey. We also knew that Roczen needed some riders to get between himself and RD, we just didn’t know who those riders were. Though the elements may have exaggerated the results a bit, there’s no denying that Barcia, Blake Baggett, and Christophe Pourcel each handily competed with Roczen in both motos. Of course, since Dungey won the race easily in moto one and Roczen struggled in the late laps after running second for almost the whole moto, the results on paper need to be taken with a grain of salt, since it is entirely possible that something was going wrong for Kenny in that race to drop him from second to fifth in the last three laps.