Motocross

Ryan Dungey Eyes Third Straight Win At High Point Raceway

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Fellow Minnesota-born riders Ryan Dungey and Jeremy Martin are currently enjoying similar success one month into the 2015 Lucas Oil Pro Motocross Championship, sanctioned by AMA Pro Racing.

After both riders took over their respective points leads in the 450 Class (Dungey) and 250 Class (Martin) by winning at Colorado's Thunder Valley MX Park, they cemented their distinction as championship leaders by winning back-to-back races this past weekend at Tennessee's Muddy Creek Raceway.

Heading into this weekend's annual stop at High Point Raceway in Mount Morris, Pennsylvania, both Red Bull KTM rider Dungey and Yamalube/Star Racing Yamaha rider Martin are in search of three straight wins and continued growth of each rider's current points lead. The gate will drop on the 39th Annual UPMC Sports Medicine High Point National, Round 5 of the 2015 season, this Saturday, June 13.

Since turning pro in 2007, Dungey has single handedly put the state of Minnesota on the motocross map, becoming the state's most prominent competitor since Donny Schmit and by far its most successful. In just his second year of full-time competition last season Martin, the youngest son of Spring Creek MX Park owners John and Greta, and brother of fellow 250 Class rider Alex, added to the state's racing legacy by mounting a surprising, yet dominant run to the first title of his career.

Now after it waited more than a decade for another top-level rider to emerge, the state of Minnesota has a pair or superstars sitting atop each of the two most prestigious off-road motorcycle racing championships on the planet for the first time ever. Adding to significance of this feat is the fact that Dungey and Martin are also bringing a total of 175 points apiece into this weekend's action.



Dungey's first win of 2015 at Thunder Valley was on an afternoon in which each of his main competitors, GEICO Honda's Eli Tomac and RCH Soaring Eagle/Jimmy Johns/Suzuki Factory Racing's Ken Roczen, endured misfortune. Tomac's misfortune would turn to heartbreak after the news late last week confirmed the early leader of the championship would miss the remainder of the season with shoulder injuries.

With that win at Thunder Valley, Dungey assumed control of the 450 Class title fight and came out even stronger this past weekend in Tennessee to ensure his possession of the red number plate, earning the Bud Light Fastest Qualifier, winning the first moto and capping off the afternoon with 1-2 scores to earn the combined 40th win of his Lucas Oil Pro Motocross Championship career, placing him third on the all-time list.

Dungey became the first two-time winner at Muddy Creek Raceway and maintained KTM's undefeated 450 Class record at the facility. Most importantly, he extended his points lead to 37 points over Roczen, who finished second.

With High Point just days away, Dungey has visions of continued success as he looks to earn a third 450 Class title in six seasons. He's a two-time winner at the legendary facility, both of which came during his championship-winning seasons in 2010 and 2012. Moreover, Dungey's comfortable points lead at such an early stage of the championship is familiar territory as well. In 2010 he carried a 36-point lead into the fifth round of the season and enjoyed a 42-point margin at this point in 2012.
Roczen's consistent improvement since the start of the season has moved him to second in the 450 Class standings - Credit: Simon Cudby
With back-to-back runner-up finishes to his credit, Roczen has become Dungey's closest rival in the battle for the championship as the reigning 450 Class champion continues to improve with each passing moto. Battling a stress fracture in his spine, Roczen's 2015 campaign got off to an ominous start at Hangtown where he could barely ride his motorcycle for a full moto.

He started his title defense with a 19th-place effort in the summer's first moto, but has remained a fixture inside the top 10 ever since, including five straight moto finishes of third or better. With his first moto win of 2015 recorded last weekend in Tennessee, Roczen appears to be hitting his stride, but his lingering injury will undoubtedly be a weekly obstacle as he tries to fight back from the major deficit he faces in the points against a familiar foe in Dungey.

Although Roczen has managed to move into second in the 450 Class standings, he has just a slight edge over Team Yoshimura Suzuki's Blake Baggett. The premier class rookie earned his first overall podium at Thunder Valley and came up just a few points shy of another top-three performance last weekend.

He, along with Dungey, is one of just two riders in the 450 Class to finish inside the top 10 in every moto this season and he doesn't appear intimidated by the championship credentials of the two riders that sit ahead of him in the title fight. Baggett carries a comfortable 21-point lead to the next active competitor in the standings, Autotrader.com/Toyota/Yamaha's Justin Barcia.
Baggett continues to be the championship's top rookie and is one of only two 450 Class riders to finish inside the top 10 every moto thus far. - Credit: Simon Cudby
Martin's 250 Class title defense began exactly how he wanted, with a win at the opening round. However, the following weekend at Glen Helen proved to be an early test of Martin's resiliency after an adversity filled afternoon.

While he could have easily finished outside of the points after beginning each moto that day at the tail end of the 40-rider field, Martin refused to quit and salvaged fifth and sixth-place results. Since then, the Yamaha rider has been on a tear, winning three of the last four motos and a worse result of second. That recent string of dominance has also allowed him to win three of the first four rounds of the 2015 season, overcoming a 19-point deficit in the championship along the way.

Each of Martin's last two wins have come on tracks he had never won at before and looking ahead to this weekend, High Point is another venue in which he is currently winless. If recent trends suggest anything, Martin enters this weekend as the rider to beat.

Although Martin's recent string of success has been convincing, Red Bull KTM's Marvin Musquin has kept up with that pace for the majority of the season up to this point. Musquin only missed out on a win at the season opener at Hangtown due to a second-moto tiebreaker, and he went 1-1 at Glen Helen as Martin battled from the back. Unfortunately for Musquin, racing luck hasn't been on his side the last two weekends.

A crash in the first moto at Thunder Valley left him with a slightly injured wrist and a 14th-place finish that ultimately cost him the points lead, and this past weekend at Muddy Creek contact from another rider on the opening lap forced Musquin to come from behind to salvage fourth. In each of those instances however, Musquin has all but erased that misfortune with a strong moto effort that has proven to be the key in his continued battle with Martin in the 250 Class standings.

Just six points separate Martin from Musquin heading into High Point, with the lead pair surging out to a 47-point lead over the remainder of the field. Musquin is a former winner at High Point, back in 2013, and as the only former winner at the track in the 250 Class he hopes this weekend gets some good fortune back on his side.
Like his fellow Minnesotan, Martin is in search of a third consecutive overall win heading into High Point. - Credit: Simon Cudby
Founded on a longstanding friendship and partnership between the Holbert family, who owns the land the track sits on, and the Coombs family, who promotes the event and now owns the championship as a whole under MX Sports Pro Racing, High Point Raceway is one of the sport's most storied venues, nestled in the hills of the Southwest corner of Pennsylvania.

Not only does it feature one of the most dynamic layouts in all of Pro Motocross, taking advantage of the rich soil and a natural, amphitheater-like setting, it also boasts arguably the most loyal and boisterous supporters who have made this race an annual summer tradition for nearly 40 years thanks to its perfect combination of a stellar racetrack for the riders and an ideal setting to watch the race for fans.

Foxtel will show the racing in Australia on a delay on Sunday morning, check local guides for times and channel. The opening moto's should be able to be seen live over at Promotocross.com

Top Image: Ryan Dungey heads to High Point in search of his third straight overall win this season.

Credit: Simon Cudby

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