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John Natalie victorious in AMA ATV Motocross action in Pennsylvania

July 03, 2012

John Natalie blasting down the track on his ATV.

Local rider John Natalie captured his second overall victory this season in the AMA ATV Motocross National Championship Series at High Point Raceway in Mount Morris, Pa., June 16.

Points leader Chad Wienen split moto wins with Natalie, while Thomas Brown secured his first podium finish of 2012.

It was 19-year-old Joel Hetrick, Seneca, Pa., who landed the Fastest Qualifier Award during the morning qualifiers and put himself into a prime first-place gate position heading into the first moto.

Motoworks/Can-Am’s Natalie of Warrior’s Mark, Pa., kicked off the first moto with the SSi Decals Holeshot Award and held the early lead over Hetrick, Thomas Brown and Nick DeNoble. Points leader Chad Wienen got into a collision with Josh Upperman off the start, causing both riders to fall behind the pack.

It wasn’t long before Hetrick put the moves on his teammate Natalie, taking control of the lead but only for a couple laps as he experienced mechanical issues that forced the Motoworks/Can-Am rider to pull into the mechanic’s area to readjust.

Natalie then inherited the lead on the fifth lap but Brown kept his TBROWN Yamaha Racing/Moto-X-Perts Yamaha on the rear end of Natalie throughout the entire first moto, even making his way past the defending champ to take over the lead briefly in the middle of the race. Natalie held Brown off for the remainder of the race, taking home the victory despite feeling under the weather all week.

Wienen caught back up to the lead pack after hooking up with Upperman in the first corner, salvaging points for his overall position.

“I just haven’t been feeling too hot the past few days and I’m not going to lie, there were times when I felt like giving up out there,” Natalie said. “The biggest thing that kept me going was hearing the fans cheering as we went by. That was amazing and I couldn’t have made it through without them!”

Baldwin Motorports/PEP’s Josh Upperman fought back to finish in the fifth-place spot, just behind Hetrick’s fourth-place ride.

In the second moto, Upperman shot out of the gate to grab the SSi Decals Holeshot Award and led the early part of the race until he lost control and went off-track, causing him to lose four positions right away. Meanwhile, Hetrick maneuvered his way past Natalie for the lead by the third lap.

“I had a great jump off the start and I felt really good on the first lap, but I may have gotten too excited and just kind of went off the track and lost the lead,” Upperman said. “Things are really coming together and I feel really comfortable with my bike set up this year.”

Wienen was on a mission in the second moto as he pushed past both Motoworks/Can-Am teammates and took the lead for the remainder of the moto. It wasn’t long before Natalie reclaimed second place from Hetrick, and it was downhill from there for the young gun as Brown cleared the triple over Hetrick’s double to take over third place.

Upperman put the moves on Hetrick soon after, leaving Hetrick back in fifth for the rest of the race.

Wienen edged out Natalie for the second moto victory, but it was Natalie who took home the overall win with a 1-2 score for the day, Wienen going 3-1 to take home second.

“I knew I would have a chance at the overall today if I could put myself out front in the second moto and that’s what we did,” Wienen said. “Championships are won on your worst days and I truly believe that I put in my best effort today despite the bad luck we had in the first moto.”

Thomas Brown got his first podium finish of the 2012, taking home third overall with a 2-3 score. Upperman took home fourth overall, switching off 5-4 with Hetrick, who went 4-5 for the day.

“It feels good to finally get on the podium this year,” Brown said. “Everything is really coming together and I can’t thank my sponsors enough for sticking by me for so long. I’m looking forward to staying on the podium for the rest of the year!”

Michigan’s Harold Goodman (Honda) secured a season-best sixth overall, while Ohio’s Adam Clark (Honda) came in seventh. Nick DeNoble (Honda) salvaged an eighth overall after taking a hard hit to the ground earlier in the day. Rookie Mark Madl (Honda) grabbed ninth overall and Jesse Barnes (Yamaha) rounded out the top 10.

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