Hetrick making a charge
Published 10:03 pm Monday, July 27, 2015
BUCHANAN — With the 2015 Mountain Dew ATV Motocross National Championship, sanctioned by AMA Pro Racing (ATVMX), winding down, Hetrick Racing/Corrosion Specialties Honda’s Joel Hetrick kept the momentum of his late season surge going on Saturday.
In a head-to-head battle with main championship rival Chad Wienen, the current points leader and reigning three-time titleholder, Hetrick outlasted the Wienen Motorsports/Maxxis/SSi Decals/Walsh Race Craft Yamaha rider at legendary RedBud MX to earn his fourth overall victory of the season via tiebreaker. Despite equaling the series lead for wins with Wienen, Hetrick was unable to gain any ground in the points battle heading into the final round of the championship.
A warm afternoon in southwest Michigan provided conditions that would ultimately challenge the riders as the afternoon wore on, both as a result of the higher temperatures and an increasingly rough RedBud track. This combined to make an afternoon filled with hard-fought, exciting racing.
Perhaps to no one’s surprise, Hetrick kicked off the day by once again posting the fastest lap of time practice. It was his eighth ATVRiders.com Top Qualifier award in nine rounds this season. When the motos got underway, Vechery Racing/Never Sleep Designs Honda’s Casey Martin claimed his first SSi Decals Holeshot Award of the season. Behind him, Hetrick and Root River Racing’s Josh Upperman banged wheels in the first turn as they fought for track position, forcing Hetrick to briefly back off the throttle and get shuffled into the field.
The aggressive battle in the first corner proved to be the opportunity Wienen needed to eventually put his Yamaha at the front of the field on the opening lap, with Martin slotting into second ahead of Upperman in third. Hetrick fell all the way back to seventh, but immediately began his aggressive charge back to the front.
With a lead of over three seconds to his favor before the completion of the first lap, Wienen put himself into a virtually unbeatable position from the get go an put the pressure squarely on Hetrick to keep pace. Despite having so many riders in front of him, Hetrick found a way to climb back into second by Lap 2 and from there did all he good to track down Wienen. The gap between the two riders stabilized at about six seconds for most of the moto before Wienen eventually pulled away to take the win by 13.870 seconds.
Hetrick’s impressive runner-up effort put him in a position to earn the overall, while Maxxis Yamaha, powered by Moto-Xperts, rider Thomas Brown was able to make a last-lap pass on Vechery Racing/Never Sleep Designs Honda’s Ronnie Higgerson for third. JB Racing/Can-Am/Liquid Wrench’s Jeffrey Rastrelli was fifth.
Moto 2 proved to be an opportunity for Hetrick to bounce back from what he surely considered a frustrating first moto, and he put himself at the front of the field immediately by grabbing another SSi Decals Holeshot Award over Rastrelli and Wienen.
Hetrick moved out to over a second lead by the completion of the opening lap and with Rastrelli sitting between Hetrick and Wienen, it was the window Hetrick needed to open an insurmountable advantage.
Wienen moved into the runner-up spot by Lap 3, but continued to gradually lose ground to his championship rival throughout the remainder of the moto. Hetrick completed his wire-to-wire moto win by taking the checkered flag 6.262 second ahead of Wienen.
Brown once again finished third after moving into podium position early in the moto. Rastelli was fourth, with Higgerson fifth.
By virtue of their identical moto scores, Hetrick (2-1) and Wienen (1-2) ended the afternoon tied for the overall win. However, Hetrick’s triumphant effort in Moto 2 awarded him the tiebreaker and a hard-fought victory. Brown’s consistency landed him third (3-3), while Rastrelli (5-4) and Higgerson (4-5) tied for fourth, with Rastrelli getting the edge.
With identical point totals for the afternoon, Hetrick was unable to gain ground of Wienen in the AMA Pro ATV standings, a welcome consolation for Wienen after missing out on the overall win. A total of 15 points separate the duo and they will enter the final round as the only two riders mathematically eligible to win the championship. Brown is all but a lock for third in the final standings and currently sits 51 points out of the lead. Rastrelli (-154) and Upperman (-156) will continue their battle for fourth, with just two points sitting between them.