Motocross

Lucas Oil Pro Motocross Championship Make Inaugural Stop At Ironman Raceway

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The Lucas Oil Pro Motocross Championship, sanctioned by AMA Pro Racing, will enter unchartered territory this Saturday, August 16, as the brand new Ironman Raceway in Crawfordsville, Indiana, will host the world's most prestigious dirt-bike racing series for the very first time.

The inaugural Thor Indiana National will serve as the penultimate stop of the 2014 season and fittingly enough, the 450 Class battle for the championship is reaching its most captivating point as the rounds wind down. Currently just seven points separate the Red Bull KTM duo of Ken Roczen and Ryan Dungey, while Yamalube/Star Racing Yamaha's Jeremy Martin continues to hold a significant lead over his 250 Class challengers.

One week ago, Dungey's late season surge in the championship standings continued at Unadilla. The two-time series champion earned his third win in four rounds and closed the deficit to his teammate to single digits for the first time since the second round of the season at Hangtown. Now, both Roczen and Dungey share four wins apiece heading into the final two races of the championship.

At Unadilla, Dungey's recent trend of seizing the opportunity continued. He got solid starts in each moto and attacked the field on the opening lap to put himself into the best position possible for the lengthy duration of the moto. Roczen was up to the task in Moto 1 and paced his teammate for the entirety of the race en route to second, but in Moto 2 he started several positions behind Dungey and was unable to move any higher than fourth while Dungey crossed the line in second and took home the overall win.

As a result, a 17-point swing has gone into Dungey's favor the previous two rounds and he appears more confident than ever as he continues to track down Roczen. Meanwhile, the German rookie continues to look for that consistency that made him the rider to beat throughout the bulk of the championship.

Unadilla marked the first time this season that Roczen failed to finish on the overall podium, which could be more significant than it seems given how the racing has played out in recent weeks. With just seven points separating the dominant KTM tandem, this championship is truly up for grabs with four motos and a total of 100 points still potentially up for grabs.

While Dungey appears to have the momentum on his side, Roczen has proven you can never count him out. Factor in a track that no rider has ever seen and this weekend could provide an equal playing ground between the two championship contenders.

While GEICO Honda rider Eli Tomac's role as spoiler has been well documented since his return to the championship from injury, Team Honda Muscle Milk's Trey Canard emerged as another rider to keep an eye on at Unadilla.

The veteran was arguably the fastest rider all day in New York and he capped off a strong afternoon with his first career moto win in the 450 Class, vaulting him to a season-best runner-up effort. Now that he knows how to win, Canard will no doubt be more confident and, in turn, faster than he's been all season, adding another obstacle for the KTM pair to overcome as they each continue to maximize their efforts.
Martin continues to hold his own and is one step closer to the 250 Class title. - Credit: Simon Cudby / Racer X
While the 450 Class looks as if it will go down to the wire, the 250 Class appears to be getting closer and closer to falling into Martin's hands.

The sophomore rider was able to earn his first moto win in the last five attempts to finish second overall and gain even more ground on his championship rivals. Adding to the momentum Martin gained last weekend was the misfortune experienced by his teammate Cooper Webb. After battling up front in Moto 1, Webb crashed and finished outside the top five. In Moto 2, he appeared to suffer a bike malfunction and was forced to record a DNF. As a result, he gave up 31 points to Martin and fell to third in the championship standings.

Webb's misfortune proved to be Monster Energy/Pro Circuit/Kawasaki rider Blake Baggett's benefit as the former series champion gained a spot in the standings. However, Baggett also lost 12 points to Martin at Unadilla and faces a 66-point deficit to the Yamaha rider.

Barring anything catastrophic, it appears as though Martin is well on his way to the first professional title of his young career. He's proven he has the ability to handle the pressure of leading the championship and for the most part has extended his advantage for much of the 2014 season. He's shown impressive patience when needed, but is also willing to fight for the win if it's within reach. If Martin continues to do what he's doing, it will be nearly impossible for either Baggett or Webb to close the deficit.

The Lucas Oil Pro Motocross Championship travels from one of its oldest tracks, in Unadilla, to its newest track at Ironman Raceway. Located in the heart of one of the most motorsports-crazed pockets of the U.S. just outside Indianapolis, Ironman Raceway is destined to quickly carve out a unique place in the championship and in the world of racing as a whole. It boasts a tradition of hosting a round of the GNCC championship, with an event that has grown over time to become one of the largest and most celebrated events on the GNCC schedule.

While the world's best motocross riders won't be trudging through the mud and trees like the off-roaders do, many of the same qualities that have made the Ironman GNCC legendary will be on display at the new Ironman Raceway motocross layout. The dirt is superb, and while the surrounding area is flat, the track offers huge elevation changes and massive jumps, which is always welcome by both riders and fans alike. It may be the newest venue in the championship, but Ironman Raceway is expected to fit right in with the best and most globally renowned tracks in the sport.

Top Image: Dungey is full of confidence at the season's most critical point.

Credit: Simon Cudby / Racer X

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