With Phoenix Racing Honda’s Joel Hetrick’s woes this season and his quest to dominate every remaining round, the stage was set for a true to life showdown. As the skies darkened, the rain started falling Saturday as the first qualifier came to an end. Hetrick would once again claim the DirtNation.com Fastest Qualifier Award, as majority of the riders would also opt out of running the second qualifier due to the downpours and track conditions.
Moto one would have the familiar #88 of Hetrick powering towards the first turn, however a quick inside move put the #28 of Jeff Rastrelli Land Grading/Baldwin’s Jeffrey Rastrelli in the lead and taking the SSi Decals Holeshot Award. The mud made for a difficult first few seconds, where riders were tossing goggles and fighting for position on a track that was shaping up for a wild and intense moto.
Back at the front of the pack, Hetrick continued to lead without any huge press from Wienen as the first moto came to an end. Hetrick earned the win, followed by Wienen and Ford Brothers Racing/Fly/Maxxis/Impact Solutions’ Cody Ford claiming the third place position after an exceptional moto one effort.
Frantic work began in the pits immediately as riders and teams took on the task of getting things cleaned and prepped for the second moto, which looked to be a repeat of the first as the relentless rain continued to hammer the region.
As race time neared, the pressure began to mount as several racers stood an honest chance of leaving their mark on this round of racing. A sea of umbrella’s started lining the fences as the gate was being set for the second and final moto.
As the rain had recently subsided, the pre-moto track preparations allowed for a decent although muddy start as the laps started to be counted. Wienen quickly found himself behind the leader and riding smart knowing that any bad decision could cost him as he remained shadowing Brown lap-after-lap. Hetrick had troubles of his own, and it looked like he was going to be out of the race on several occasions as he dealt with some deep mud and then a mechanical issue.
Hetrick would come in 10th the second moto, with Ford coming through sixth.
Hetrick will have to regroup and look ahead to Unadilla for redemption as the AMA Pro class head into their final four races of the season.
For Ford finding the podium in his rookie year is a huge confidence boost, especially in a race where sheer grit and determination was needed just to finish.