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Tomac looks to defend his Muddy Creek title

Jeff Birchfield • Updated Jun 19, 2018 at 7:08 PM

Eli Tomac has gotten off to a fast start in a bid to defend his Lucas Oil Pro Motocross Championship. He looks to stay ahead of the pack at this Saturday's AMA Red Bull Tennessee National at Muddy Creek Raceway.

Tomac, on the No. 1 Kawasaki, is also the defending race champion of the 450 class at the Blountville track. For the season, the Colorado rider has a 197-169 lead over French rider Marvin Musquin in the current point standings.

He will have plenty of competition on Saturday, including Musquin, who won the 250 division race at the first Red Bull Tennessee National in 2013. Another tough challenge will come from German rider Ken Roczen, a two-time Tennessee National winner who outdueled Tomac for the title in 2016.

Honda rider Justin Barcia comes into Saturday’s races third in the season points, while Roczen and Californian Blake Baggett round out the top five.

Aaron Plessinger, a Yamaha rider from Ohio, is both the defending race winner in the 250 division and the current points leader in that class. He aims to join North Carolina rider Cooper Webb as a two-time 250 winner at Bristol.

A big name, however, will be absent, following the recent news that defending series champion Zach Osborne of Abingdon, Va., will miss the season with a shoulder injury.

Like nearby Bristol Motor Speedway for stock cars, the Muddy Creek facility is one of the racer's favorites. It's also a challenging facility with several sharp corners, but it’s also a course where riders can make up time through big leaps in the air.

Racing starts at 8 a.m. Saturday with practice and qualifying. Opening ceremonies are set for 12:40 p.m. with first set of Pro motos to start at 1 p.m.

NO SURPRISE TO RUSTY

NASCAR Hall of Fame driver Rusty Wallace answered a pair of questions about the Monster Energy Cup Series season on Sunday while visiting Bristol Dragway. While most of the hype heading into the season was about the young guns of NASCAR, Wallace isn’t surprised the veteran drivers have dominated the action on the track.

"Kevin Harvick is so smart. He and (Brad) Keselowski, they grew up building cars and wrenching them," Wallace said. "They know all about the cars so it doesn't surprise me that the veterans are still hanging at the top. What does surprise me is the tough luck Hendrick is having this year. They've got to turn that thing around. They've got a lot of young guys and are a rebuilding year in my opinion. But Mr. Hendrick is a smart guy and they will figure it out."

None of Hendrick Motorsports drivers are in the top 10 of the points or have won this season, with Chase Elliott’s second-place finish at Richmond the best for the bunch. 

Wallace, the 1989 NASCAR champion, was asked if he sees this season as a three-man race between Kevin Harvick, Kyle Busch and Martin Truex Jr., who have combined to 11 of the first 15 races. Based on the performance, he believes the championship will come down to one of those drivers.

"I don't see anybody coming in late in the race and upsetting everybody," Wallace said. "Harvick has such a hold and the other veterans are doing well, so I see one of them winning."

KINGSPORT DECISION 

Rusty Clendenin of Church Hill got his first-ever win at Kingsport Speedway after a video review of last Friday’s Modified Street feature by track officials. He drove the No. 27 Camaro to victory lane, where he was greeted by his father, Roger, a former Tennessee state champion. There was some confusion in the scoring afterward, but officials got it right after the Monday reviews.

The NASCAR Whelen All-American Series will take center stage at Kingsport Speedway this Friday with Johnson City driver Zeke Shell holding a four-point lead over defending track champion Kres VanDyke in the featured Late Model Stock standings. Rusty Clendenin was named the winner of last week’s Mod Street race after a video review by track officials. Racing is scheduled to get underway at Kingsport Speedway Friday at 8 p.m.

Volunteer Speedway is off this weekend, while the DER Bracket Series is scheduled to return to Bristol Dragway with races on Saturday and Sunday.

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