HURRICANE MILLS, Tenn. (Aug. 9, 2015) – The 2015 Mtn. Dew ATV Motocross National Championship, sanctioned by AMA Pro Racing (ATVMX), came down to the wire on Saturday at the season finale from legendary Loretta Lynn’s Ranch. Just 15 points separated the top two riders in the AMA Pro ATV standings – Wienen Motorsports/Maxxis/SSi Decals/Walsh Race Craft Yamaha’s Chad Wienen and Hetrick Racing/Corrosion Specialties Honda’s Joel Hetrick – and their season-long battle came all the way down to the final checkered flag. Chasing an incredible fourth consecutive championship, Wienen rose to the occasion and outdueled Hetrick to capture the title emphatically, by claiming his fifth overall win.
A sense of excitement and tension filled the air as the AMA Pro ATV field took to the track on Saturday afternoon. Hetrick undoubtedly felt ready for the challenge that lied ahead and responded by doing what he’s done virtually all season – capturing the ATVRiders.com Top Qualifier for the ninth time and taking home the $1,000 bonus as the winner of that in-season points battle.
When the first moto got underway, Hetrick kept the momentum rolling by racing to the SSi Decals Holeshot Award for the 11th time, another trend he’s set, resulting in a $2,000 bonus as the season’s best starter. With his main challenger out front, Wienen started to play damage control almost immediately, slotting into second ahead of Maxxis/H&M Motorsports Honda’s David Haagsma Jr.
Despite his ability to position himself behind Hetrick, Wienen wasn’t able to keep up with the pace of his rival and he soon settled into the runner-up spot knowing it would give him even more room for error in the final moto, minimizing the amount of points lost. Behind this pair, Maxxis Yamaha, powered by Moto-Xperts rider Thomas Brown, was putting forth an impressive ride to the front, battling his way forward from a fifth-place start into podium position. Hetrick took his 11th moto win 5.591 seconds ahead of Wienen, with Brown a distant third, more than a half minute back.
Entering the final moto of 2015 a total of 12 points sat between Wienen and Hetrick, meaning Wienen needed to finish eighth or better if Hetrick went on to record a 1-1 sweep. Out of the gate Team BTF Honda’s Joe Byrd grabbed the SSi Decals Holeshot Award just ahead of Root River Racing Honda’s Josh Upperman. Upperman assumed the top spot before the completion of the opening lap, with Wienen making a charge into second and Haagsma Jr. third. Hetrick had his work cut out for him, beginning the moto in fifth, which forced him to chase down Wienen.
Wienen put even more pressure on Hetrick by taking the top spot away from Upperman. Hetrick responded by moving up a position, but then experienced some misfortune and dropped to eighth. That incident all but ended Hetrick’s title hopes as Wienen continued to add to his advantage over the field. Brown was even more impressive in the second moto, overcoming a seventh-place start to eventually move into second just before the halfway point. A spot he never relinquished.
Wienen cruised to victory 8.983 seconds ahead of Brown, who came under fire in the closing laps from a hard-charging Hetrick after the Honda rider impressively got back into podium contention.
Wienen’s 2-1 moto results allowed him to edge out Hetrick (1-3) for the overall win on the afternoon and, in turn, the AMA Pro ATV Championship. Brown landed on the overall podium for the eighth time with a hard-fought third-place finish (3-2). Haagsma Jr. finished fourth (5-4) with Vechery Racing/Never Sleep Designs Honda’s Ronnie Higgerson in fifth (4-5).
Wienen finished the 2015 season with a 17-point edge over Hetrick in the final standings, while Brown rounded out the top three championship finishers 56 back of Wienen. JB Racing/Can-Am/Liquid Wrench’s Jeffrey Rastrelli ended the championship in fourth (-173), while Gennusa Racing Yamaha’s Nick Gennusa (-183) edged out Upperman (-188) for fifth.
Wienen’s championship triumph also meant that Yamaha outlasted Honda for the coveted Manufacturers Cup.
With his fourth consecutive AMA Pro ATV crown, Wienen added to his already historic legacy by becoming just the second rider in ATVMX history to win that many championships in a row, joining icon Gary Denton. Additionally, Wienen becomes just the third four-time titleholder ever alongside Denton, who has eight championships, and Jeremiah Jones, with four.
In addition to the on-track action at Loretta Lynn’s, the 88 Live to Ride annual fundraiser took place, raising a total of $26,208. A king-sized quilt made of event t-shirts sold for $5,000, while Root River Racing donated a 90cc pit bike. Many of the championship’s participating riders also made donations to the cause, while a special dinner prior to the auction raised $1,628.