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

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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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Steve Torrence takes NHRA points lead with Gatornationals victory

NHRA Gainesville Steve Torrence
Jeff Robinson/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images
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GAINESVILLE, Fla. — Two-time defending NHRA Top Fuel champion Steve Torrence took the points lead Sunday in the AMALIE Motor Oil Gatornationals, beating his father, Billy, in the final round at Gainesville Raceway.

Torrence had a 3.809-second run at 322.11 mph to win for the third time this year and 39th overall. He is now on track for another championship despite missing the season opener.

“We’ve got some good momentum and to be in the points lead, it’s a testament to how hard these guys work,” Steve Torrence said after the NHRA Gainesville victory. “We’ve just got to stay focused and concentrate on what the task at hand is, and that’s trying to win a championship. These guys give me an unbelievable race car and you just try not to screw it up.”

Ron Capps won in Funny Car, Alex Laughlin in Pro Stock and Matt Smith in Pro Stock Motorcycle.

Capps raced to his second win this year and 66th overall, beating Tim Wilkerson with a 3.937 at 323.12 in a Dodge Charger SRT Hellcat.

Laughlin topped Aaron Stanfield with a 7.068 at 204.76 in a Chevrolet Camaro for his first win this season and fourth in his career. Smith rode to his first victory in 2020 and 25th overall, topping Andrew Hines with a 6.843 at 196.99 on an EBR.