Will the third round be the charm for Blake Baggett again?

Kardy Photos
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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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Starting lineup grid for IMSA Petit Le Mans: Tom Blomqvist puts MSR on pole position

Petit Le Mans lineup
IMSA
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IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar championship contender Tom Blomqvist put the Meyer Shank Racing Acura at the front of the starting lineup for the Motul Petit Le Mans at Michelin Road Atlanta.

Blomqvist turned a 1-minute, 8.55-second lap on the 2.54-mile circuit Friday to capture his third pole position for MSR this season. Earl Bamber qualified second in the No. 02 Cadillac for Chip Ganassi Racing.

Ricky Taylor was third in the No. 10 Acura of Wayne Taylor Racing, which enters Saturday’s season finale with a 19-point lead over the No. 60 of Blomqvist and Oliver Jarvis (who will be joined by Helio Castroneves) for the 10-hour race.

PETIT LE MANS STARTING GRID: Click here for the starting lineup l Lineup by car number

PETIT LE MANS: Info on how to watch

With the pole, MSR sliced the deficit to 14 points behind WTR, which will field the trio of Taylor, Filipe Albuquerque and Brendon Hartley in Saturday’s race.

“We really needed to put the car in this kind of position,” Blomqvist said. “It makes our life a little less stressful tomorrow. It would have given the No. 10 a bit more breathing space. It’s going to be a proper dogfight tomorrow. The guys gave me such a great car. It’s been fantastic this week so far, and it really came alive. I’m hugely thankful to the boys and girls at MSR for giving me the wagon today to execute my job.

“That was a big effort from me. I knew how important it was. It’s just awesome for the guys to give them some sort of reward as well. It’s always nice to be quick. If you do the pole, you know you’ve got a quick car.”

Though WTR has a series-leading four victories with the No. 10, MSR won the Rolex 24 at Daytona and has five runner-up finishes along with its three poles.

The strong performances of the ARX-05s ensure that an Acura will win the final championship in IMSA’s premier Daytona Prototype international (DPi) division, which is being rebranded as Grand Touring Prototype in the move to LMDh cars next season.

Taylor qualified third despite sliding into the Turn 5 gravel during the closing minutes of qualifying while pushing to gain points.

“Qualifying was important for points,” Taylor said. “Going into it, if we outqualified the No. 60 Meyer Shank Acura, they had a lot to lose in terms of championship points. So, we were trying to increase the gap over 20 points which would’ve made a big difference for tomorrow. We would have loved to get the pole and qualify ahead of the No. 60, but in the scheme of the points, it didn’t change a whole lot. I’m feeling good since it’s such a long race, and the No. 10 Konica Minolta Acura team does such a good job strategizing and putting us in a good position.

“I’m very confident in our lineup and our team compared to them over the course of 10 hours. I’d put my two teammates up against those guys any day. I think we are all feeling optimistic and strong for tomorrow.”

In other divisions, PR1 Mathiasen Motorsports (LMP2), Riley Motorsports (LMP3), VasserSullivan (GTD Pro) and Paul Miller Racing (GTD) captured pole positions.

The broadcast of the 10-hour race will begin Saturday at 12:10 p.m. ET on NBC, moving at 3 p.m. to USA Network.


QUALIFYING

Results

Results by class

Fastest lap by driver

Fastest lap by driver after qualifying

Fastest lap by driver and class after qualifying

Fastest lap sequence in qualifying

Best sector times in qualifying

Time cards in qualifying

PRACTICE RESULTS: Session I l Session II l Session III