Phoenix Racing Honda’s Joel Hetrick Regains Points Lead at Loretta’s
Phoenix Racing Honda team Pro rider Joel Hetrick again swept both motos and earned his sixth victory of the season, the most of any rider on the tour, during the AMA Pro ATV Motocross National Championship race at the Loretta Lynn Ranch in Hurricane Mills, TN. The victory allowed him to take the points lead with just two motos left in the season.
A new sandy racing surface turned brutal throughout the weekend and hot temperatures further challenged Hetrick and the Honda team. Hetrick was determined, though, and he did everything he needed to do to try to ink his second national championship.
“This will definitely help me out going into the last round,” said Hetrick. “It’s coming down to the wire now. This is the roughest Loretta’s has ever been and it was the hottest race this year. So, to go 1-1 again is awesome.”
Interestingly, the victory came at the same track where bad luck took Hetrick out of the hunt for the title last year. Realizing just how quickly things can change, Hetrick never gave up this season. In the process, he clinched both the top qualifier and holeshot awards.
“It only takes one bad race to take you out of the championship, something I know too well,” said Hetrick. “I never gave up, we’re back in it, and we’ll fight it until the end.”
A huge part of his success this season has been in the expert preparation and tuning of his Honda ATV. The combination of Elka suspension, DASA power, and Maxxis tires again has proven to give Hetrick the competitive edge so needed at this level of competition.
“The DASA motor and Maxxis tires worked great again and I got two holeshots as a result,” said Hetrick. “Everything was just working. The holeshots are so crucial here and I’m pumped to win the holeshot award. I’ve been feeling really good on the bike. We’re ready to battle it out in this last round.”
Fellow Pro racer Haedyn Mickelson finished 10th overall. He battled his way to 12th in the first moto. In the second moto, he got a great start but was punted off course in the first turn. He restarted from the back of the field and finished 10th.
“In the first moto I had a great battle with Cody Ford,” said Mickelson. “In the second moto I got a good start but got knocked off of the track in the first corner. I restarted second to last and had to make some passes. With two laps to go I saw that Jeffrey Rastrelli was dropping back really fast and he and I crossed the line side by side. It was a decent weekend for me. I know what I need to do for the last race. I’m putting in a lot of work to make this last race count.”
Grayson Eller put in an excellent run in his final ATV Motocross race of the year. Eller outperformed anyone’s goals this year. He won three races and scored a four second-place finishes in 450 A and finished second in the championship by just one point. After suffering most of 2018 with injuries, this season can only be called a monster comeback for the young racer. Eller also finished fifth in Open Pro Sport points.
“I was trying to get Brandon at the end of the second moto and we were both just pushing so hard,” said Eller. “It was fun and it was a great race but not the outcome I wanted. I held the red plate all year this year so that was pretty cool. I was able to bounce back from the injuries last year.”
In Pro Am, Noah Mickelson proved he had recovered from a concussion sustained in the previous round to go 1-2 in the motos, finishing second overall. He finished second in the Pro Am championship on the merit of six podiums. Noah Mickelson will join his brother Haedyn in the Pro class during the season finale.
“I pulled the holeshot in the first moto and led the whole race, winning by 14 seconds,” said Noah Mickelson. “In the second moto, I got the holeshot and then lost the lead on the third lap. I finished second and that put me second in the championship.”
While the amateur season has completed, Hetrick and the Mickelson brothers will be competing in a special season finale Pro race being held along with the Outdoor National Motorcycles at Ironman Raceway in Crawfordsville, IN. In addition, look for the Phoenix Racing Honda team when GNCC returns from its summer break.