Blake Baggett will be enjoying a rare weekend off from the highly competitive Lucas Oil Pro Motocross Championships, no doubt grinning. He scored his first major win last week in the third round of the series in Colorado.
The KTM rider moved into third place in the season standings by finishing third and first in the motos in the Thunder Valley Nationals at Lakewood. Fellow KTM rider Marvin Musquin is on top, with Kawasaki’s Eli Tomac in second at 110. Baggett is two points behind Tomac.
“You can’t ask for a better weekend. The bike worked perfect and allowed me to battle back in moto 1 and take the win in moto 2,” Baggett said. “I’m pumped to get this win for the team, as they have been working hard all year.”
It was the initial series win for the new team and Baggett, who previously won in the Lucas Oil Pro Motocross 250 Class.
“It’s been a goal for myself to win a 450 race, but (team owner) Forrest Butler has been at this a long time and he hasn’t been able to do it,” Baggett said. “It’s definitely big for him to be able to finally get up on the top spot. I think everybody’s happy. It’s over.
“It’s a new bike, new team. Everything’s new, so still trying to get everything figured out and figure out what I like. Coming in, first lap of practice I just felt good. There’s a weekend off and we’re going to be right back at it. Kind of got to get right back in the mode of figuring out what you can better yourself on and go racing.”
Baggett became the 66th rider to score a win in the series. Combined with Musquin’s win at Glen Helen Raceway the previous week, it was back-to-back for first-time winners and the first time since 2001 there have been three different winners through the first three rounds.
The winning experience gives the team more confidence when the series resumes after an off week.
“There’s always room for improvement for sure. I think you’ll make changes depending on the track,” Baggett said. “Of course, we’re going to keep changing things and trying to make things better. With us being part of the KTM factory support program, the options are unlimited.
“We’re just trying to keep getting more comfortable and more comfortable. The more comfort you have, the more the speed goes up and the more you can pull off stuff that you couldn’t on the days when you’re not comfortable.”
Once again, the NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series will start and end its season at Auto Club Raceway in Pomona. The sanctioning body released its 2018 schedule this week, starting with the Winternationals from Feb. 9-11 and finishing Nov. 9-11 with the Auto Club Finals.
There are a pair of major changes in the schedule, The Route 66 Nationals outside Chicago has been moved to May 31-June 3 and the New England Nationals has been shifted to July 6-8 in Epping, New Hampshire.
The traditional Western Swing will start outside Denver from July 20-22, moving to Sonoma for the Toyota Nationals from July 27-29 and concluding in Seattle with the Northwest Nationals from Aug. 3-5.
Young Todd Gilliland, a former Chino Hills resident, finished 20th last week in his NASCAR Camping World Truck Series debut at Dover International Speedway. He ran toward the front until a loose wheel put him on the sidelines.
“That was a ton of fun, something you don’t get to do every day,” said the 17-year-old son of David Gilliland who ran for Kyle Busch Motorsports. “We’ve just got to keep working from here. I learned a lot.
“Never had a loose wheel and that’s what it was — broke the whole inside of the wheel. It’s all on me. I just need to get better at feel and stuff, but that’s part of being a rookie and you’ve got to learn and move on.”
On Saturday night, Gilliland and the K&N Pro Series West will be at Colorado National Speedway in Dacono for the Napa/Toyota 150. Gilliland is 11 points ahead of teammate and defending Chris Eggleston, who also won the last series race in San Bernardino.
• Perris Auto Speedway will be dark the next two Saturday nights, returning June 24 with the Amsoil USAC/CRA Sprint Cars and The PAS Senior & Young Gun Sprints. The SoCal Oval Karters will be in action Saturday in its only road race of the year on a special course in the infield. In addition to the regular SCOK classes, the Senior and Junior class karts from Victorville’s Wheel2Wheel Raceway will also be in action. Gates open at 9 a.m., practice starts at 11 and the first race is at noon. Admission is $10 through the back-pit gate.
• Renowned race announcer Larry Huffman, who resides in Big Bear, was recently presented a unique Lifetime Achievement Award at Glen Helen Raceway. Perhaps the best Supercross and motocross voice was presented the award by Scott and Debbie Burnworth at the annual Vintage MX event. “I was both surprised and humbled,” said the 75-year-old Huffman, who first started announcing the sport at the USGP in Carlsbad in 1971. In 1972, he called the L.A. Coliseum’s Superbowl of Motocross and the first 250 USGP in 1976. “What a life,” he said, reflecting on his legendary career.
• Ventura Raceway will host the second race in the VRA Dwarf Car Silver Cup series, sponsored by Haas Automation, on Saturday night. Also racing will be VRA Senior Sprints, IMCA Modifieds, Hobby Stocks and Focus Midgets. Gates open at 3 p.m., qualifying is at 3:30 and the first race is at 5:30. Admission is $15 for adults; $11 for seniors, students and military; kids 12 and younger are admitted free.
• Ryan Bernal won the USAC/VRA SSRP Battle at the Beach last week. Kyle Smith, Max Adams, Jace Vander Weerd and Cody Majors were next across the finish line.
• In the most recent NASCAR Xfinity Series race at Dover International Speedway, Ladera Ranch’s Cole Custer finished fourth after starting 14th. Kyle Larson was the race winner. He is 10th in the series standings, six points behind Michael Annett, and trails Matt Tifft by 13 for eighth place.
• Team Hammer’s Suzuki rider Nick McFadden had his broken right collarbone surgically repaired Wednesday at San Gabriel Medical Center by orthopedic surgeon Dr. Tom Bryan.
• Billy “The Kid” Janniro, the 2016 AMA Speedway national champion, extended his Penhall Memorial Cup win streak to three years in the 2017 debut of Industry Speedway in the City of Industry. The speedway will host a weekly program every Wednesday night.
• Sports broadcasting history will be made Saturday as the NASCAR Xfinity Series will be called by active Cup drivers. Kevin Harvick will call the race, with analysis from Clint Bowyer and Joey Logano. Pit road will be covered by Ryan Blaney, Erik Jones and Ricky Stenhouse Jr. Danica Patrick and Denny Hamlin will host race coverage.