Ken Roczen completes his comeback at Thunder Valley


In a mirror image of Round 1 of the Motocross season, Ken Roczen won Moto 1 at Thunder Valley Motocross Park and protected his lead in Moto 2 to take his second overall victory of the season. In the process, he also regained the points’ lead in what is shaping up to be a great opening battle to the 2019 season.

After winning the first Moto, Ken Roczen picked up where he left off. He pulled out to a sizeable lead in the first 15 minutes, but recovering from a disappointing Moto 1 that forced him to the mechanic’s area for a goggle change he rode like a rider possessed. Just past the halfway mark, Eli Tomac started closing the gap.

With 10 minutes remaining, Tomac grabbed the lead and scored his fourth Moto win of the season.

Roczen did not need to win the battle in order to win the war. As with Hangtown, Roczen (1-2) rode a safe race at the end and scored his second overall win.

Tomac finished second with a 5-1, but he lost too many points in the first Moto to hold onto the points lead. Roczen took the lead by two points. Tomac finished second overall.

With a 2-4, Zach Osborne grabbed the third overall.

Roczen dominated the first Moto at Hangtown, but that was his only Moto victory and questions began to fly about whether he was really returning to his old form. Five minutes into Moto 1 at Thunder Valley, he was answering those queries with a nine second lead. By the end of the Moto, he had stretched that advantage to more than 30 seconds.

He beat Zach Osborne in second and Cooper Webb in third, both of who were unchallenged for their positions.

Eli Tomac was more than 1.5 seconds faster than the field in the first qualifier. But he had a terrible start to Moto 1.  When Marvin Musquin went down in Turn 2 of Lap 1, Tomac was slowed by the traffic jam. Just before the halfway mark he experienced trouble with his goggles – forcing Tomac into the pits after losing 43 seconds to the leader.

Tomac returned to the track 12th and immediately passed a pair of riders to get back to 10th. He charged up to fifth and was battling for fourth before he got bogged down in a deep rut with a lap remaining.
(18 wins entering this race; 37 Moto wins)

Privateer Dean Ferris scored an impressive sixth, which is his best finish of the season.

The disastrous start for Musquin dropped him to 40th. In five minutes, he’d passed half the field. Musquin climbed to eighth at the checkers.

In Moto 1, Cole Seely tipped over in a rut that swallowed his bike while he battled for fourth. He dropped back to ninth.

Joey Savatgy back for the first time since New Jersey in the Supercross season when he finished seventh. He crashed early in his MX debut and finished 40th after completing five laps.

In Moto 2, Dylan Merriam crashed and was helped from the course by the medical crew.

450 Moto 1 Results
450 Moto 2 Results
450 Overall Results
Points Standings

You can’t get much closer than this. Winning Moto 1 for the third straight week, Justin Cooper needed to show that he could finish that well in a Moto 2. He got the hole shot to lead early, but pressure from Adam Cianciarulo was relentless.

Cooper heard Cianciarulo on his back tire for the first 15 minutes of the Moto until he laid the bike down and handed the lead over to the points’ leader. Cooper would right himself in third behind Colt Nichols, but he would immediately climb back into second.

With no pressure to speak of and a six-second lead, Cianciarulo rode a safe, clean final 15 minutes and won Moto 2, giving him the overall with a 2-1 on the tiebreaker.

Controversy was part of the second Moto. Riding second at the time, Cianciarulo went off course in the rollers. He cut a corner and re-entered the track without gaining a place advantage, but Cooper believed that he made up some time and trimmed his lead. Cianciarulo’s pressure may have been the deciding factor.

Nichols held onto second in the Moto with Michael Mosiman fourth.

Weather has played a factor in two of the first three rounds of the Motocross season. Rain fell hard in the opener at Hangtown and started to fall again in the first Moto at Thunder Valley.

This time it may have saved a series of perfect starts for Cooper. He has become the a first Moto master – winning the opening race in the first three rounds now. This victory came in an abbreviated effort as the red flag waved. But points’ leader Cianciarulo was cutting into that lead aggressively, shaving nearly a second a lap off what was once an eight-minute lead when the series broached the halfway point.

“I was able to separate myself; get a little bit of a gap and then the rain started coming down pretty hard so the track started to get a little slick,” Cooper told NBC Sports Gold after the Moto. “I saw lightning and knew it was probably going to get called, so I I was just trying to keep it safe and Adam started getting close there at the end.”

Dylan Ferrandis rounded out the top three in Moto 1.

Ty Masterpool grabbed the holeshot, but gave it up to Hampshire before the end of Lap 1.

Pit stops are not something normally seen, but Colt Nichols and most of the field were caught off guard as the clouds popped up over the mountains. Nichols rode into the mechanics area for a fresh set of goggles a couple of minutes before the checkers waved. He finished 13th in the Moto.

250 Moto 1 Results

Moto Wins

[4] Eli Tomac (Hangtown II, Pala I & Pala II, Thunder Valley II)
[2] Ken Roczen (Hangtown I, Thunder Valley I)

[3] Justin Cooper (Hangtown I, Pala I, Thunder Valley I)
[3] Adam Cianciarulo (Hangtown II, Pala II, Thunder Valley I)

Next race: High Point Raceway, Mount Morris, Penn. June 15

Season passes can be purchased at NBC Sports Gold.

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Heather Lyne, Dennis Erb Jr. make history in the World of Outlaws Late Model Series

Lyne Erb Outlaws Late
Jacy Norgaard / World of Outlaws

More than two decades in the making, the pairing of Heather Lyne and Dennis Erb Jr. produced a historical milestone in Dirt Late Model.

Last month, Erb and his long-time crew chief Lyne won their first World of Outlaws Late Model Championship and with this achievement, Lyne became the first female crew chief to win in a national late model series. Their journey together goes back 21 years and tells the story of hard work, persistence and belief in oneself.

After a career-best season with the World of Outlaws, Erb and Lyne secured the points championship at US 36 Raceway in Osborn, Mo. with three races remaining in the season. The consistency and success of their season came down to pinpoint focus. Lyne and Erb are a team of two living out a David vs. Goliath tale. In order to be as successful as possible this year the duo knew they had to do as much as possible with the resources they had.

“It’s always a challenge when you only have two people, both at the racetrack and at the shop,” Lyne told NBC Sports. “I also work full time, so during the day, Dennis has to do a significant amount of work so that when I get down there I can start working and maintaining. It’s planning ahead. It’s having that system in place and making sure that you’re prepared ahead of time.

“When you have a problem at the track, making sure you have all that stuff ready so it’s a quick change and not a lengthy process to make a repair. We had zero DNFs in the World of Outlaws, we had only one DNF out of 96 races [combined among all series].”

Dennis Erb clinched his 2022 championship before the World of Outlaws World Finals. Jacy Norgaard – World of Outlaws Late Model Series.

Taming Time

This was not an easy feat. Between a full travel schedule and Lyne’s full-time job as an engineer, time comes at a premium. What they lack in time and resources they made up for in patience and planning.

“We buckled down, and we got all the equipment that we needed back, motors freshened, and things of that nature,” Lyne said about the mid-point of last season. “We were able to keep up with that. We just had a higher focus. I tried to reduce my hours at my day job as much as I possibly could while still maintaining what I need to get done at work. I got rid of a lot of the other distractions and got a more refined system in place at the shop.

“We did certain tasks on certain days so we had time to recover. We were on the road a little bit more, as opposed to coming home to the shop. So we had to be more prepared to stay out on those longer runs. It was just really staying on top of things a little more. It was a heightened sense.”

This was Lyne and Erb’s fourth full season with the Outlaws, but they’ve been on the road together for the last 21 seasons starting in 2001. Their partnership began with Lyne’s bravery. When one door closed, she was quick to open another. In 2001, Lyne’s dad was ready to stop racing. Her mother wanted to regain her weekends, but Lyne knew this was her life path and wasn’t prepared to lose it.

“I’ve always been a tomboy at heart,” Lyne said. “I watched racing with my dad. Growing up he watched NASCAR. In high school, I got tired of playing at the lake house, so I went to the local dirt track and fell in love with it. I just couldn’t get enough. It took a year for me to convince my dad to come to the track with me. He finally did and we sponsored a car that year, the following year he started to race limited cars. He ran hobby stocks and limited late models.”

At some point, Lyne and her father’s level of commitment drifted apart.

“He did it for about five years,” Lyne said. “And then my mom said: ‘I’m done racing. I want my weekends back. It’s just not fun anymore.’ I wasn’t ready to hang up my wenches and Dennis raced out of the same hometown so I, on a dare, went down and introduced myself; told him if you ever need any help, I’ll drill out rivets, I’ll help wash, whatever you need. Twenty-one years later here I am.”

Heather Lyne became the first female crew chief to secure a national touring late model championship in 2022. Paul Arch / World of Outlaws Late Model Series.

Breaking Through

Lyne entered a male-dominated job in a field that is also male-dominated – and where there were few examples of women creating these places for themselves. In this way, Lyne became a blueprint for other women as they strive to find a place for themselves in racing and in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) overall. She has her mother to thank for providing a strong role model, her father for sharing her passion, Erb for taking a chance on an unknow entity and most importantly herself.

“I was raised to believe that I can do anything, I want to do, as long as I put my heart and soul into it.” Lyne replied when asked about role models in the sport growing up. “My parents did not raise me to have that limitation. But from a racing role model perspective, I went in there completely green and just introduced myself to Dennis, the fact that he was brave enough to take that risk and bring a girl to the racetrack. Someone he didn’t know at all speaks volumes for him.”

Lyne and Erb have learned how to survive and succeed with each other on the road. They do this by leveraging decades of combined experience and an ability to adapt to the everchanging landscape of dirt late models. Next year the World of Outlaws visits nearly a dozen new tracks and Lyne sees it as an opportunity for continued success.

“I just want to do it again,” Lyne says going into next season, “I’m looking forward to the competition, I always do. I wouldn’t do it if I wasn’t competitively driven.

“There are some new tracks on the schedule that I’m looking forward to trying for the first time that I haven’t been to myself,” Lyne said of the 2023 season, “Dennis seems to do well on those first timers. We won out at Marion center, we finished second at Bloomsburg. We have a good solid notebook of information to tackle them over the last three years with these rocket race cars that we’re running. It’s good to have that information and leverage it to try some new things.”