WALNUT — Sunset Ridge MX will host the Mtn. Dew ATV Motocross National Championship, running Friday through Sunday.
Reigning AMA Pro ATV Champion and Galena native Chad Wienen carries a 13-point lead into this weekend’s action and enters Sunset Ridge as the defending three-time race winner.
Two weeks ago at championship’s previous stop from High Point Raceway in Pennsylvania, Wienen came up just short in his bid for a 3-0 start to the season. The defending two-time ATVMX Champion was a fixture at the front of the field, but an impressive second moto performance by JB Racing/DWT/Mtn. Dew Live Wire Can-Am’s Joel Hetrick gave the victory to the up and comer and added intrigue to the early title fight.
Since the opening round of the 2014 season, Wienen, Hetrick, and ATVMX veteran John Natalie, have emerged as the most formidable riders in ATVMX. Each boasts at least one moto win, while both Wienen and Natalie have also finished on the overall podium in each of the first three rounds of the season. While Wienen’s consistency has allowed him to maintain the championship lead since the opening round, the rise to prominence by both Hetrick and Natalie is adding to the pressure of Wienen’s run at a potential third straight title.
Week in and week out, the on-track competition in 2014 has been compelling thanks to incredible battles for the win, podium, and throughout the AMA Pro ATV field. With the remaining six rounds of the championship scheduled on a bi-weekly basis from now until the finale at Loretta Lynn’s in August, the time is now for riders to make their move in the point standings.
While the top three riders in the championship appear to be hitting their stride, they will no doubt be accompanied by a slew of contenders who are also ready to step up and challenge for a win of their own. Former series champion Josh Creamer hasn’t had the consistency he was hoping for thus far in 2014, but the BCS Performance Can-Am rider does have a pair of fourth-place finishes through the first three rounds and sits just behind the lead trio in the championship standings.
Additionally, 2013 series runner-up Thomas Brown is learning from the success that has been achieved by his teammate and mentor Wienen at Wienen Motorsports/SSi Decals/Walsh Yamaha. He sits fifth in the AMA Pro ATV standings and is primed to make a run for the podium
Last year at Sunset Ridge, Wienen’s path to victory wasn’t as smooth as it had been the previous two seasons in which he posted dominant 1-1 efforts. After a strong start to the afternoon in which he won the opening moto, Wienen had to battle it out just to land on the podium in the final moto, which ensured his third consecutive victory at the facility by just one single point over Natali
As the ATVMX Championship gears up for its six-round run to crown a champion in 2014, Sunset Ridge MX will provide a critical stop in that journey. If any of Wienen’s challengers can overthrow his recent reign at his home track, it could translate favorably in their continued efforts to unseat him as series champion.