WALNUT — Chad Wienen’s bid for a fourth consecutive win at his home track race at Sunset Ridge MX came up just a couple points short on Saturday as he watched his Wienen Motorsports/SSi Decals/Walsh Yamaha teammate Thomas Brown capture his first win of the 2014 Mtn. Dew ATV Motocross National Championship, sanctioned by AMA (ATVMX), season.
With his 2-1 moto scores, Brown edged out Wienen (1-3) for the overall win by just two points.
“I guess I like these kind of finishes,” Brown said. “I was able to get in behind Upperman [in the second moto] and make the pass with just a few turns to go. Everything worked well today and I’m so thankful for the cheering and support the fans gave us whenever we passed by.”
Wienen is now the only rider in the AMA Pro ATV Class to boast an overall podium result in each of the first four rounds of the season, and as a result he retained control of the ATVMX standings. He holds a 28-point lead over Natalie.
“Overall it was a great day,” said Wienen. “The track was prepped well and the racing was great. I’m so stoked to have so many fans, friends, and family in attendance here. I’m proud I wad able to get on the podium and I’m even more proud to see Thomas [Brown] take the win for the team.”
The fourth round of the championship featured the most parity of the season thus far, with Brown becoming the fifth different rider to finish on the overall podium.
The AMA Pro ATV Class competed in its warmest conditions thus far in 2014 and near 90-degree temperatures was accompanied by high humidity. As a result, the sandy track at Sunset Ridge MX broke down dramatically and made racing even more challenging for this highly talented field of the world’s best ATV riders. Despite the heat, fans still came out in force to cheer on the competitors for a great day of action, which began with hometown boy Wienen, from nearby Galena, grabbing the ATVRiders.com Top Qualifier Award.
At the start of the first moto, it wasn’t Wienen but Baldwin Motorsports/PEP/Upperman Racing Honda’s Josh Upperman who raced to the SSi Decals Holeshot. However, his lead was short lived as Motosport.com/RRR/Ford/DWT/Walsh/Fox Honda’s John Natalie took over the top spot in the second corner. Shortly thereafter, JB Racing/Cheerwine Can-Am’s Jeffrey Rastrelli moved to the front of the field to lead the first lap with his JB Racing/DWT/Mtn. Dew Live Wire Can-Am teammate Joel Hetrick in second, searching for back-to-back overall wins. Upperman settled into third with Natalie fourth and Wienen crossing the line in fifth, while Brown slotted into sixth.
It didn’t take long for Wienen to begin making his move forward, moving into the top three on Lap 2 while Hetrick slipped past Rastrelli to become the fourth different leader of the moto. The captivating racing continued on the third lap with Upperman reclaiming the lead. He looked to pull away but was caught by a hard-charging Wienen just a couple laps later as the defending champion assumed control of the moto on Lap 5 and never looked back.
Brown was on a similar charge forward and eventually slotted into second behind his teammate. The pair asserted themselves out front while a heated battle ensued for the final spot on the podium between Upperman, Hetrick, and BCS Performance Can-Am’s Josh Creamer. Wienen cruised to the moto win and put himself in position to claim the overall while Brown followed in second. Upperman was able to withstand the pressure and maintained his hold on third with Hetrick and Upperman rounding out the top five.
Upperman’s strong ride carried over into the second moto with the veteran sweeping the SSi Decals Holeshots for the day. This time Upperman maintained control of the lead, but he was under constant pressure from Natalie, Brown, and Wienen. Things were status quo up front through the first five laps until Brown and Wienen started to shake things up by making a push to the front yet again.
As time wound down in the moto, Brown started to close the gap to Upperman. A three-plus second margin closed to under a second with two laps to go when Brown made one final surge to slip past Upperman on the final lap with just a few turns remaining, stealing the moto win and securing the overall victory in the process. Upperman took the runner-up spot just under a second behind Brown, while Wienen settled for third. Rastrelli capped off a strong final moto effort with a fourth-place finish, followed by Hetrick in fifth.
Upperman captured his second overall podium result of the season in third (3-2) with his best effort of the ATVMX championship thus far. Hetrick followed up his win at the previous round with a fourth-place finish (4-5), while Rastrelli rounded out the top five (7-4). Natalie missed out on the overall podium for the first time this season, finishing sixth (6-6).
“I knew one of those Yamahas were on my rear,” said Upperman. “I planned to go on the inside there [on the final lap] to block Thomas’ (Brown” pass attempt, but just plain blew it.”
Hetrick sits third in the AMA Pro ATV Class standings, sitting 29 points behind Wienen for the lead and just one point behind Natalie for second. Brown moved into fourth with his win (-48), while Upperman also gained a position to move into fifth (-54).
The Mtn. Dew ATV Motocross National Championship will take a week off before returning to action for the fifth round of the 2014 season on June 14-15. BriarCliff MX in Nashport, Ohio, will be the host site of the Built Ford Tough BriarCliff ATV National.