Nothing on the AMA Pro Motocross Schedule hits like RedBud does. The crowd, the atmosphere, LaRocco's leap, the whole nine yards. Weather can be hit or miss, but luckily we got a good draw this summer. 2023 marks the 50th year of RedBud, and the folks there pulled out all the stops for some cool pre-race festivities. Names like Ryan Dungey, Trey Canard, Mike LaRocco, and other legends of RedBud past came out to get honored and run a legends lap. Additionally, James Stewart (so good by the way) got honored by being inducted into the track's Hall of Fame.
But after a well-deserved week off, the boys were back and set to begin this second leg of this AMA Pro Motocross tilt. And the key question remains the same? Can the Lawrence Brothers be stopped?
Good News-Bad News
At long last, we're finally getting some big names back into the fold. Earlier this week we found out that Chase Sexton and Jason Anderson were set to line up at RedBud after their most recent injuries. But we also found out that Monster Energy/Pro Circuit Kawasaki's Seth Hammaker was set to make his 2023 debut. When we've seen the Pennsylvania native line up in his young career, he's looked the part of a factory rider, but injuries have plagued him. In the last two years alone, Hammaker has run only two rounds of Supercross and missed all but three rounds of Motocross in 2021. Not to mention that health has ruined 2023 for Pro Circuit, so it's good to see them get at least one piece back.
Two weeks ago, Justin Cooper had a violent get-off at High Point, sidelining him for the day, but he was no worse for ware and was good to go this weekend. I can't say the same for his Star Yamaha teammate Jordon Smith, who suffered a UCL injury in his thumb. In his own words, he's going to miss at least the next few rounds, with the goal being to be 100 percent for SMX. But wait, there's more injury news because of course there is. Firstly, Chance Hymas of Honda HRC suffered a torn ACL, and his year is over. Secondly, Cooper Webb was "banged up" in a practice crash earlier this week and was ruled out by Red Bull KTM on Friday.
Eli Tomac Sent a Tweet
Let's set the stage here. On June 15, Adam Cianciarulo tweeted about watching some Eli Tomac footage, mentioning that he "doesn't give one single shit about roost", and that is one of his best traits. The same day, Zach Osborne replied that he felt like that wasn't the case, bringing up WW Ranch 2020, where he beat Eli Tomac. Osborne claimed that roosting him was his "last line of defense, and it worked." I went back to the second Moto of that National and there was a moment on the last lap where Osborne kicked up a ton of dirt on an inside corner, which forced Tomac to go for a tear-off and lose a chunk of time.
Now for the fun part. I don't think it takes a rocket scientist to figure out that Eli Tomac wasn't/isn't much of a social media presence. Sure, you would get some postrace thoughts or promotion for something gear, Monster Energy, or whatever else related, but not much else. And for the record, that's completely fine. That's just who Tomac has been his entire career. But somehow, someway, he caught wind of this exchange six days later, and here's what he had to say.
This is captivating/funny for a lot of reasons. Reason No. 1: This was the first tweet/reply that Tomac had made on Twitter since October 2020. Simply a wild thing to come back for. No. 2: How did he find out about this? This is the most important reason and it's by far. He follows 94 people, zero of which have anything to do with Moto outside of Alpinestars. My guess would be someone close to him told him about this because based on his most recent Twitter like coming in 2021, I find it hard to believe he's lurking in the shadows of the bird app. So who gave him the drop?
And No. 3: Outside of a few occasions, Atlanta 2021 with Justin Barcia being a good recent example, we haven't seen an abundance of Tomac show some real fire. He probably could have worded this better, but I appreciate the effort. I also feel like no one is in the wrong here. I didn't see a massive issue with what Osborne said, and I don't think he meant any malice by it. Either way, this was TREMENDOUS bye-week content.
Daytime Program/Injury Notes:
- Of the known track changes at the 11 Nationals, the RedBud renovations are my least favorite. Somehow LaRocco's leap wasn't as easy as I thought it would be with that said.
- Several guys wrapping up their amateur careers were on the 250 gate this weekend. Most notably, Daxton Bennick of Monster Energy Star Racing Yamaha
- Rockstar Energy Husqvarna's Casey Cochren was victorious in the RedBud Moto Combine event.
- 250 Fastest Qualifier: No. 241 Daxton Bennick (Professional Debut with Star Yamaha) (2:06.880) (Three Star Bikes in the top six with Bennick, Cooper, and Deegan)
- 450 Fastest Qualifier: No. 18 Jett Lawrence (2:04.713) (Chase Sexton and Jason Anderson ended up in second and third in qualifying in their returns. Brandon Scharer snuck into the top 10 in his season debut).
- I still cannot believe he sent that tweet man.
250 Class Recap
1st - No. 238 Haiden Deegan (Monster Energy Star Racing Yamaha) (2-3)
It probably wasn't in the fashion he would have wanted, but win No. 1 is officially in the books for Deegan. He had some great juice off the start grate all day, but despite pulling off a Moto 2-holeshot, he ended up leading zero laps. You can say it was handed to him, but a wise man in a navy blue hoodie from New England preaches the mantra "control what you can control." That's exactly what Deegan did, and with some luck, got the opportunity to stand at the top step of the podium with his whole family there. Not to mention, he's now just 11 points out of a share of the red plate.
2nd - No. 43 Levi Kitchen (Monster Energy Star Racing Yamaha) (7-1)
Want to know how big starts have been this year? Kitchen kicked off Saturday in 17th across the finish line the first go around, but despite making up a ton of spots early, he hit a bit of a wall around midway and couldn't get passed seventh. Despite losing out on a holeshot to Deegan in that second Moto, Kitchen got by him on that opening lap and never looked back. Had Kitchen hit the marks on that start, he would have won the Overall going away with the pace he had, which is shocking only because he wasn't too quick in qualifying.
4th - No. 128 Tom Vialle (Red Bull KTM) (9-2)
I've been waiting all year for a statement ride out of the defending MX2 World Champion, and I finally got my wish in Moto 2. He was top three the whole Moto, but Vialle ended up overwhelming Deegan in crunch time (last three laps), running close to a second and a half faster a lap and three seconds faster coming to the white flag. I'd be lying if I said I didn't expect a win by this point, but it's been a rough year as it is for the Frenchman. Here's to hoping he can find some success before the year is out. Also happy that he nor Ryder D got hurt on that cross-jump incident in Moto 1.
8th - No. 35 Seth Hammaker (Monster Energy Pro Circuit Kawasaki) (5-10)
I would have preferred to see Hammaker not ride into some off-track banners in his first race of the year, but outside of that in Moto 2, I liked the pace I saw out of Mitch Payton's returning rider. The fitness seemed to be there, and Hammaker was very sporty despite the blunders, even spending some time in a podium position in Moto 1. Not going to get any easier with the Wick coming up, but a good return.
9th - No. 96 Hunter Lawrence (Honda HRC) (1-DNF)
Very glad to say that Lawrence's injury right off the bat in Moto 2 was better than it looked because it looked rough in real-time. He also gets to keep the red plate for the time being, but, he's now going to have to sweat things out if he wants his first-ever Motocross title in the States. Deegan got that first win notched off, and the pressure of simply getting it is already gone. Should be a fun fight to the finish between these two.
250 Class RedBud Top 10
1st No. 238 Haiden Deegan (3-2)
2nd No. 43 Levi Kitchen (7-1)
3rd No. 32 Justin Cooper (4-4)
4th No. 128 Tom Vialle (9-2)
5th No. 24 R.J. Hampshire (3-7)
6th No. 34 Max Vohland (6-6)
7th No. 30 Jo Shimoda (8-5)
8th No. 35 Seth Hammaker (5-10)
9th No. 96 Hunter Lawrence (1-DNF)
10th No. 241 Daxton Bennick (10-9)
250 Class Points After RedBud
1st No. 96 Hunter Lawrence (200 Points)
2nd No. 238 Haiden Deegan (189 Points)
3rd No. 24 R.J. Hampshire (167 Points)
4th No. 30 Jo Shimoda (158 Points)
4th No. 43 Levi Kitchen (154 Points)
6th No. 32 Justin Cooper (152 Points)
7th No. 34 Max Vohalnd (137 Points)
8th No. 128 Tom Vialle (134 Points)
9th No. 75 Ryder DiFrancesco (106 Points)
10th No. 832 Chance Hymas (92 Points) (Done for the year via torn ACL)
450 Class Recap
1st - No. 18 Jett Lawrence (Honda HRC) (1-1)
Another day another 1-1 for the Jett. Thought for a little bit that Dylan Ferrandis was going to have something for him in that second Moto, but Lawrence shut that down real quick. Now sitting 10-0 on the year, next up for him is a venue in the Wick where he went 1-1 a year ago, but Lawrence also put up a 9-3 on the board in Central Mass a year before that. It won't be a walk in the park at some of these east coast Nationals, that's for sure.
3rd - No. 23 Chase Sexton (Honda HRC) (2-3)
Although the results look good in a vacuum, especially considering this was his first National in a month, Sexton left some meat on the bone at RedBud. A good, not great start allowed Lawrence to waltz away in that first Moto in the early stages. No guarantee he was going to beat him, but Sexton wasn't too far off on speed, and with a better start, anything would have been possible. Secondly, that Moto 2 wipeout was the deciding factor in him losing out on second overall. Not a bad day given the circumstances, but I'd like to see Sexton clean up the little things.
5th - No. 21 Jason Anderson (Monster Energy Kawasaki) (5-7)
Very quiet day out of El Hombre on Saturday. Felt like I didn't hear his name much, but a 5-7 about a month and a half removed from a neck injury is pretty solid. He held up well in crunch time as well, running some solid lap times. Well, of those not named Lawrence, Sexton, or Ferrandis, that is. Just happy to see Anderson back out there, if anything.
13th - No. 81 Ty Masterpool (Sports Clips/Beachview Treatment/Airline Vacuum Kawasaki) (6-DNF)
Have to feel for Masterpool. He doesn't deserve DNFs with the way he's been pushing it this season, but it's just one of those things. If for nothing else, he was right on Lawrence's heels to begin Moto 1 and wasn't far off of him in the opening few laps. I think it might have been Denny Stephenson who said this a while back, but I'm starting to buy in on the idea that Masterpool should consider MXGP as a future option. I have a hard time imagining he would have trouble finding a factory rider on a 250 or 450, with the way he's been running this summer.
450 Class RedBud Top 10
1st No. 18 Jett Lawrence (1-1)
2nd No. 14 Dylan Ferrandis (3-2)
3rd No. 23 Chase Sexton (2-3)
4th No. 7 Aaron Plessinger (4-4)
5th No. 21 Jason Anderson (5-7)
6th No. 36 Garrett Marchbanks (9-5)
7th No. 47 Freddie Noren (7-8)
8th No. 69 Phil Nicoletti (10-9)
9th No. 107 Jose Butron (11-10)
10th No. 9 Adam Cianciarulo (31-6)
450 Class Points After RedBud
1st No. 18 Jett Lawrence (250 Points)
2nd No. 14 Dylan Ferrandis (193 Points)
3rd No. 7 Aaron Plessinger (174 Points)
4th No. 9 Adam Cianciarulo (149 Points)
4th No. 2 Cooper Webb (147 Points)
6th No. 47 Freddie Noren (108 Points)
7th No. 81 Ty Masterpool (107 Points)
8th No. 103 Lorenzo Locurcio (98 Points)
9th No. 36 Garrett Marchbanks (91 Points)
10th No. 23 Chase Sexton (86 Points)
RedBud PulpMX Industry Idiots Fantasy Team
450 Class: Adam Cianciarulo (All-Star, +3), Garrett Marchbanks (-1), Jose Butron (+7), Izaih Clark (+16)
250 Class: Justin Cooper (All-Star +3), Seth Hammaker (No Handicap), Bailey Kroone (+18), Lux Turner (+18)
FFL: Jett Lawrence (Successful) and Justin Cooper (Unsuccessful)
Points Total: 438 (I hate it here)
Next Up: The Wick 338 (Southwick, Massachusetts)
Main Image via Yamaha