The second half of the 2015 Lucas Oil Pro Motocross Championship, sanctioned by AMA Pro Racing, will commence this weekend as the world's most prestigious motocross series continues its Independence Day tradition with the 41st Annual Red Bull RedBud National in Buchanan, Michigan.
The seventh round of the season will take place on the 4th of July for just the sixth time ever, and leading the way into action is the Red Bull KTM duo of Ryan Dungey and Marvin Musquin, who sit atop the 450 Class and 250 Class standings, respectively.
At the previous round from Budds Creek, Autotrader.com/Toyota/Yamaha's Justin Barcia finally broke through for the first overall win of his 450 Class career, overcoming incredibly difficult conditions that resulted from an afternoon of rain and thunderstorms.
In the 250 Class, Musquin earned his third overall win of the season, but was unexpectedly challenged for the victory by CycleTrader.com/Rock River Yamaha's Alex Martin, who not only earned the first moto win of his career, but also tied for the overall with Musquin to ultimately earn a career-best runner-up finish.
Since the untimely departure of GEICO Honda's Eli Tomac from the championship as a result of injury, Dungey and defending champion Ken Roczen, who rides for RCH Soaring Eagle/Jimmy Johns/Suzuki Factory Racing, have dominated the 450 Class and, in turn, have opened a considerable gap over the rest of the field in the championship standings. However, the unpredictable conditions at Budds Creek opened the door for another rider to emerge at the forefront of the division.
A native of New York, Barcia is arguably more comfortable in the wet than perhaps any other rider in the series and thrived all afternoon. While Dungey took a convincing win in Moto 1, he had a big crash off the start of Moto 2 and was left to fight his way through the field when conditions were at their worst. Barcia, who had grabbed the holeshot, took full advantage and cruised to his maiden victory both in the premier class and for the Joe Gibbs Racing Motocross effort who signed him for the 2015 season and earned just its second win in its eighth season of competition.
Rockstar Energy Husqvarna Factory Racing's Christophe Pourcel and Team Yoshimura Suzuki's Blake Baggett joined Barcia on the overall podium, with all three riders recording career-best efforts. Dungey's absence was his first of the 2015 season and his come-from-behind 12th-place effort in the final moto marked his first finish outside the top 10 this summer.
Dungey's misfortune in the second moto was the opportunity Roczen needed to try and chip away at the 37-point deficit he faces in the championship. However, the German titleholder was a bit under the weather at Budds Creek and ultimately tied his championship rival in points for the afternoon following 5-4 finishes.
For Dungey it was a best-case scenario in such a potentially damaging incident and despite getting the worst of what Mother Nature had to offer, he walked away healthy and still in full control of his own championship destiny.
Both Dungey and Roczen are former winners at RedBud, which should make for anticipated showdown Saturday afternoon. In fact, these two riders are the only past winners in the 450 Class field at the track. Roczen took the overall a season ago en route to the title, while Dungey has sat atop the podium twice, during his championship-winning campaigns in 2010 and 2012. With his breakthrough victory last weekend, Barcia should be expected to push the front duo, while Pourcel, Baggett and Rockstar Energy Husqvarna Factory Racing's Jason Anderson will all look to build upon their overall podium results this season.