Rich Shepherd, ProMotocross

Marvin Musquin wins back to back MX races at Southwick

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For the second straight week, Marvin Musquin scored the overall win at The Wick 338 in Southwick, Mass. to shave a few points off Eli Tomac’s points lead.

Musquin won Moto 1, finished second in Moto 2 and banked 47 points to gain five on Tomac for the day.

“Winning Southwick means a lot,” Musquin said on NBC Sports Gold after finishing second in Moto 2 and winning the overall.

Musquin had to keep Tomac at bay for two reasons. Most importantly, he desperately needs the points that would have swung with the pass if he want to have any hope of catching Tomac for the championship.

More Importantly, he is a racer and racers want to win.

Counting the Moto finishes in his head, he worried for a moment that Zach Osborne’s pair of podium finishes might displace him from the top. Then he realized the 1-2 he would come home with provided the overall win – but only if he stayed in second. If he lost the spot to Tomac, the tiebreaker would go to Osborne.

So Musquin dug even deeper and held Tomac at bay.

“I charged pretty hard because Tomac was charging from behind, but he kind of gave up at the end and I was glad,” Musquin said. “Zach rode really well; I couldn’t do anything (with him).”

Osborne took consolation in winning his first career Moto. With a 3-1, he finished second overall.

“It’s awesome to get a win and get it out of the way on a gnarly track,” Osborne said after the race. “I was close last weekend, but I didn’t have anything at the end.

“And the same today. If there had been an attack, I’m not sure if I could have withstood it.”

Tomac faded to fifth early in Moto 1, but he was able to recover and climbed back to second in that race. Considering how badly he has performed in the first races this year, this was almost as good as a win.

Tomac got an even worse start in Moto 2 and ended Lap 1 in ninth. As has been his trend all season, he charged back to the lead pack and finished third in the race. His 2-3 allowed him to take third overall and minimize his points loss.

Cooper Webb finished 4-4 and finished fourth overall.

Rounding out the top five was Jason Anderson with a 7-5.

It was a disastrous day for Ken Roczen. He fell to 12th in Moto 1 after fading badly in the second half of the race. Moto 2 was more of the same. Roczen raced among the top five early, but as the clock clicked down into the single digits, he faded again and finished 10th. With a 12-10, Roczen finished ninth overall and lost 22 points to Tomac in the championship.

Roczen’s loss at the end of the race was privateer John Short’s gain. The Texas rider who made the long haul to Massachusetts made the pass for ninth on the final lap.

Another feel-good story on the day belonged to Fredrik Noren, who took his new factory Suzuki to a fifth-place finish in Moto 1. He backed that up with a seventh in Moto 2 and finished seventh overall.

Aaron Plessinger returned to the field this week and finished 18-16 for a 16th ovrall.

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

The top three in the 250 points standings are there for a reason.

Finishing 1-2-3 in Moto 1, Adam Cianciarulo, Justin Cooper and Dylan Ferrandis rode nearly the entire race in the top three.

Cianciarulo would go on to win the Moto and that gave him enough momentum to head into the second race and capture his fifth overall win in the first six races. With a 1-2, he bettered Ferrandis’ 3-1 by one position.

“I try to make good decisions as I’ve matured as a racer,” Cianciarulo said. “You just learn and luckily I have a great team I can learn from and lean on.

“I managed the race for sure. I’m not sure if I had Dylan’s pace in that (second) Moto; He’s really fast here; really fast in general. He rode great. He deserved that one. I think I rode smart. Made good decisions.”

Ferrandis did all he could in Moto 2 by passing Cianciarulo just past the halfway mark and then stretching his advantage to 10 seconds. Last year’s winner of this race won the second Moto for his second straight race win in the past two weeks.

Ferrandis slipped outside of the top three in Moto 1 briefly, but got a much better start than he has all season. That made a huge difference.

Cooper finished third overall with a 2-3, giving all three points’ leaders a sweep of the podium positions.

Ferrandis gained three points on Cooper, who currently sits second in the standings. He lost two points to Cianciarulo, however, who now has a 23-point advantage over Cooper and is 37 points ahead of Ferrandis.

RJ Hampshire was the best of the rest in both Motos. Finishing 4-4, he landed fourth in the overall.

Shane McElrath earned his best Moto finish of the season with a sixth in Moto 1. He almost backed that up with an equally strong performance in Moto 2, but his seventh in that race was good enough to allow him to round out the top five.

Seventh in Moto 1, Brandon Hartranft also earned his best Moto finish of the season. Like McElrath, he slipped one position in Moto 2 and finished eighth. He landed seventh on the overall grid.

250 Moto 1 Results
250 Moto 2 Results
250 Overall Results
Points Standings

Moto Wins

450MX
[5] Eli Tomac (Hangtown II, Pala I & Pala II, Thunder Valley II, WW Ranch II)
[3] Ken Roczen (Hangtown I, Thunder Valley I, High Point II)
[2] Marvin Musquin (WW Ranch I, The Wick I)
[1] Blake Baggett (High Point I)
[1] Zach Osborne (The Wick II)

250MX
[5] Adam Cianciarulo (Hangtown II, Pala II, Thunder Valley I, High Point II, The Wick I)
[3] Justin Cooper (Hangtown I, Pala I, Thunder Valley I)
[2] Dylan Ferrandis (WW Ranch II, The Wick II)
[1] Hunter Lawrence (High Point I)
[1] Chase Sexton (WW Ranch I)

Next race: RedBud, Buchanan, Mich., July 6

Season passes can be purchased at NBC Sports Gold.

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Attention NASCAR teams: IMSA drivers available for Daytona!

Ker Robertson/Getty Images
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NASCAR will be making its debut on the Daytona International Speedway road course next month, and there’s a big fan who’d like to join the historic weekend.

This fan actually has impressive credentials, too — a few thousand laps around the 12-turn, 3.56-mile layout that annually plays host to the Rolex 24 at Daytona in January.

In 2014, the winning GTLM team in the sports car endurance classic included IMSA Porsche driver Nick Tandy, who rabidly has followed NASCAR for more than 30 years since growing up in England.

So why not try racing NASCAR? Especially because Tandy has the weekend of Aug. 14-16 free.

He’s not picky, either — offering up his services on Twitter (as well as those of Porsche teammate Earl Bamber) for an ARCA, Xfinity, trucks or Cup ride.

Tandy’s affinity for American stock-car racing runs deep.

His first trip to the World Center of Racing was as a fan attending the 50th running of the Daytona 500 on Feb. 17, 2008. During Rolex testing in January, Tandy, 35, said he hadn’t missed a Cup race on TV in 15 years.

Among his favorite NASCAR drivers: the Earnhardts, Jimmie Johnson and Kyle Busch. When IMSA ran the Indianapolis Motor Speedway road course in 2014, Tandy stayed a few extra days at the Brickyard and bought Kyle Busch gear for himself and his children.

He briefly took the stage during a NASCAR weekend last October. After IMSA’s season finale at Road Atlanta, Tandy made a few demonstration laps and a burnout in his No. 911 Porsche before the Cup race at Talladega Superspeedway.

He also has some experience in stock cars, having raced Modified-type grass-roots series on England’s quarter-mile short tracks.

Couple that with a Daytona road course record that includes two consecutive podium class finishes (including last Saturday) and a sports car resume with 13 IMSA victories and an overall win in the 2015 24 Hours of Le Mans … and maybe a NASCAR team should take a look.

And Tandy isn’t the only IMSA driver who likely would be available.

Corvette driver Jordan Taylor, who won the 2017 Rolex 24 overall title with Jeff Gordon as a teammate (and the inspiration for his Rodney Sandstrom persona), also tweeted his availability for the weekend on the high banks.

Sports car veteran Andy Lally, a GTD driver with multiple class wins in the Rolex 24 as well as 38 Cup starts (he was the 2011 rookie of the season in NASCAR’s premier series), also hung out his shingle.

There also is AIM Vasser Sullivan’s Jack Hawksworth (who just won at Daytona last Saturday), the Englishman who teamed with Kyle Busch at the Rolex 24 in January and made an Xfinity start at Mid-Ohio last year with Joe Gibbs Racing.

Many sports car drivers (such as Taylor) already live in Florida, and many are hunkering down in the Sunshine State with IMSA returning to action at Daytona last week and Sebring International Raceway next week. Because of COVID-19-related travel concerns and restrictions, several IMSA stars who live outside the country are riding out the pandemic within a few hours of Daytona with nothing to do.

Why not a weekend at the World Center of Racing?

Over the years, scads of “road-course ringers” (including some Formula One veterans) have tried their hands in stock cars at Sonoma Raceway and Watkins Glen International.

How about considering the many sports car drivers who already have reached victory lane at Daytona by making a few right-hand turns, too?