Rocky Mountain ATV/MC-KTM-WPS rider Blake Baggett piloted his KTM 450 SX-F FACTORY EDITION to a career-first AMA 450SX victory on Saturday night with an incredible performance at Round 2 inside a packed State Farm Stadium in Glendale, Arizona.
Red Bull KTM Factory Racing’s Marvin Musquin powered through a nagging knee injury to earn a solid fifth, while teammate Cooper Webb rounded out the top-ten in the 450SX class.
Musquin, who qualified fourth earlier in the day, shot off the line in 450SSX Heat 1 to capture the holeshot and early lead. He battled back-and-forth for the lead spot before solidifying the win and top gate pick for the Main Event. Webb, the second-place qualifier, got off to a sixth-place start in 450SX Heat 1 and ultimately secured a fifth-place transfer position.
As the gate dropped for the Main Event, Musquin powered his KTM 450 SX-F FACTORY EDITION to a second-place start, battling for the early lead before settling into third. However, the race saw red flag conditions early on due to a downed rider on the track and the field was re-set into a staggered start based on their current running positions. As a result, Musquin began third in line. Upon the restart, Musquin resumed his battle for a podium position but a few mistakes quickly dropped him to fifth. From there, the Frenchmen maintained a solid pace to ultimately finish fifth.
Musquin: “Glendale is always a big, big track and it’s always been a really tough race track for me, so I’m happy because this year was a lot better. I got a great start in the heat race and I got the win, so that felt really good to get back to the top even though it was just the heat race. I wanted to do the same thing in the main and I got a great start again and was leading at the beginning but then I got passed for third. I was behind [Jason] Anderson and I was pretty happy about my riding until they red-flagged it, unfortunately, for Malcolm Stewart that went down. Hopefully he is okay, that was a bummer to see. We restarted in our spots we were in, which was good because I thought we were going to have to restart the whole race. Unfortunately, I had too many mistakes in the first two laps and it cost me two spots and I lost too much ground on the other guys. Fifth place is not too bad considering all that happened in the main. It’s an improvement for me with the riding and the bike, everything was working good.”
Meanwhile, Webb found himself outside the top-ten as the gate dropped for the Main Event and he worked his way into tenth early on. Webb assumed the ninth-place position for the staggered restart but he got shuffled back and eventually fought his way back to finish tenth overall for the night.
Webb: “The weekend was a bit up and down for me. The day started off good, I was able to qualify second overall, which was awesome and my speed was there. In the heat race, I didn’t get the best of starts and made a few passes to get into fifth. In the Main Event, we didn’t get a good start again, made a few passes and then the red flag came out. It was kind of wild – it kind of flusters you and you’re not sure what to do. So, I got going again and unfortunately made a few mistakes, got shuffled back, passed a few guys and I just didn’t ride all that well tonight. It was a little tough but we’ll regroup this week and try to make some improvements with myself and be back at A2 next week to take on the Triple Crown and hopefully get back in the top five.”
It was a monumental night for the KTM-Supported Rocky Mountain ATV/MC-KTM-WPS team, who earned its first-ever victory in the 450SX class with an exceptional performance by Baggett in the closing laps of the Main Event. Baggett put himself in a favorable position off the start, rounding the opening lap in fourth and maintaining that position through the staggered re-start. Baggett capitalized on his positioning to reach second just a few laps later and from there he worked hard to chip away at the leader’s gap. He continued to get stronger as the race wore on, making his move into the lead with three laps to go. Baggett held strong through the checkers to make history for himself and the team with a big victory in Glendale.
Baggett: “It’s good to just be able to feel good enough to run behind Jason [Anderson] and you know, I’ve had weekends where I can run with those guys and some weekends they just leave me in the dust, so it feels good to finally get my whole program together and be able to run with those guys. I’ve got to keep things rolling, it hasn’t hit me yet that I finally got a 450 win!”
It was another strong weekend for Troy Lee Designs/Red Bull/KTM Factory Racing’s Shane McElrath, who finished third overall at Round 2. After finishing second in his heat race, McElrath carried a solid gate pick in to the evening’s Main Event. As the gate dropped the for main, McElrath powered his KTM 250 SX-F to a second-place start where he battled close behind the race leader early on. McElrath dropped into third around the halfway point and continued to fight his way to a podium finish.
Canadian KTM Red Bull Thor Factory Racing rider, Jess Pettis, battled his way through the last chance qualifier to secure a position in the evening’s 250SX West Main Event. Pettis began just outside the top-ten in the Main Event and maintained a consistent pace throughout the 16-lap race to bring home a solid 12th overall for the night.
Next Race:Anaheim, California – January 19, 2019