Round 3 of the MX season will be pivotal for Blake Baggett. In three 450 starts at Thunder Valley, he has never failed to stand on the podium and this week, he needs to challenge for a top-three this week to re-establish himself as a title contender.
Everything started out promising for Baggett last week at Fox Raceway in Pala, Calif.
Baggett grabbed the holeshot and – after losing the lead to Ken Roczen on the first lap and second to Jason Anderson soon afterward – he stabilized quickly and got back around Anderson for second.
Baggett was closing in on Roczen for the lead when he hit something hard enough in Turn 1 to bend his front wheel and jam his throttle wrist. Baggett was forced to the mechanics area, where he lost a lap and struggled to finish 33rd. Knowing he had given up the opportunity for a strong finish without any points from Moto 1, Baggett nursed his wrist in Moto 2 and climbed to 14th in that race. He would finish 16th overall.
“Today didn’t go my way,” said Baggett in a team release earlier this week. “I felt like I had the speed out there to battle at the front, just had a few issues that kept me from being up there. We have some work to do this week and I am looking forward to a better result at Thunder Valley, where I grabbed my first 450MX win.”
Slow starts have been part of Baggett’s recent seasons, but he has a reason to be optimistic about Thunder Valley.
In his first 450MX season of 2015, Baggett finished fifth at Hangtown and seventh at Glen Helen in the first two rounds before scoring his first career podium finish.
His first 450MX victory came in 2017 after finishing sixth in Hangtown and third at Glen Helen.
Last year, Baggett’s first MX podium of the season came in Round 3 at Thunder Valley after finishing third in both Motos – after finishing fifth and seventh in the first two rounds just as he did in 2015.
In 2018, Baggett ended the Supercross season with a pair of podium finishes before. This year, he also surged at the conclusion of the SX season with a second at Nashville and a narrow miss of the podium in New Jersey.
Baggett might also take consolation in the fact that his slow starts have not been limited to MX.
The start of the 2019 MX season has been his second-worst on record with an eight overall at Hangtown and 16th at Pala, but it is in the same general range as the start of this this year’s Supercross season. He struggle mightily in Round 1 and 3 at Anaheim with a 12th- and 15th-place finish respectively. Baggett won Round 2 at Glendale and stood on the podium two weeks later in Oakland.
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