This weekend the Monster Energy AMA Supercross Series heads down to the Bayou and New Orleans for the 14th event of the 17 round series. Although defending champion Ryan Villpoto wrapped up the title at Round 13 in Houston two weeks ago, the two-time SX champ still has every intention of bringing his “A” game to the remaining four rounds. The #1 red plate holder will certainly be the favorite to take home another victory, but there are several riders who still have a role to play in the points chase.

Ryan Dungey has not raced since St. Louis, but he remains in second place the championship, just one point ahead of Davi Millsaps, who has been having an excellent second half of the indoor season. Millsaps could easily take over second place this weekend if Dungey does not show up to race.

Of course, James Stewart is always a factor when he lines up on the gate, but he has not had much luck in recent rounds and is out for New Orleans.  We could, however see a reinvigorated Stewart for the last three rounds of the series. His endo in Houston may have ended his evening early, but Kevin Windham’s endo on the same night definitely ended his season.

K-Dub – a fan favorite, was having an excellent night until his last lap crash over the last triple jump. With two injured shoulders, an injured wrist, hip and thumb, Windham will not be racing this weekend and will be missed at his hometown race.

Results, points and more from the last round of SX in Houston

But where several riders are out with injuries, a few will be returning to action this weekend as well. After a long absence due both to injury and team related issues, Andrew Short is scheduled to make his return to racing, this time under the factory Honda tent. Andrew is one of the few riders who can run consistently within the top five, so if he is riding at 100 percent, he could very well land on the podium.

Also returning to the mix are Ti-Lube / Kawasaki’s Nick Wey, and Hart and Huntington / Dodge / Kawasaki’s Ivan Tedesco. Both riders could help spice up what has been a diminishing field of Supercross Class riders in 2012.

In Lites racing, Justin Barcia is very close to securing his second East Coast title in a row. The GEICO / Honda rider has been a force this year and could very well wrap up the championship this weekend if he takes the win. However, he will have to deal with the likes of Ken Roczen, Blake Wharton, Blake Baggett, and others.

Kenny Roczen recently took his first win of the season in Houston and will have some added confidence on his side. Wharton also already has a win this season, and Baggett has seemed to pick up his pace in the last few weeks, as the AMA National Motocross series looms ever closer.

This weekend will be the first time that Supercross has visited New Orleans since 2009, so be sure to take in the action in person if you are in the area.

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Monster Energy Supercross Notes Package, courtesy Feld Motorsports

The first race in New Orleans was held on June 4, 1977, and Marty Smith won on a Honda; it was the last Supercross Class win of his career

At the inaugural race inside the Superdome, there were eight different brands of motorcycles on the gate: Honda, Kawasaki, Suzuki, Yamaha, Bultaco, Maico, Husqvarna, and Can-Am

Supercross Class Laps Led, Ryan Villopoto: 141, Ryan Dungey: 33, James Stewart: 25, Chad Reed: 24, Justin Brayton: 11, Cole Seely: 7, Mike Alessi: 5, Jake Weimer: 5, Davi Millsaps: 4, Brett Metcalfe: 1

Supercross Lites Class Laps Led, Justin Barcia: 75, Eli Tomac: 40, Dean Wilson: 30, Cole Seely: 15, Blake Wharton: 9, Darryn Durham: 8, Ken Roczen: 6, Tyla Rattray: 3, Martin Davalos: 1, Alex Martin: 1, Blake Baggett: 1

2012 Monster Energy AMA Supercross Series Champion Ryan Villopoto says “We couldn’t have wrapped it up at a more perfect time. We were able to enjoy the Easter holiday and really step away from racing for a few days. Going into New Orleans the plan doesn’t change, though. We are still racing to win and won’t be happy with anything short of that.”

Justin Brayton: “I really kept believing in myself through the leg injury and working hard with the team. I think having that injury let me rest during the week and come into the weekend hungry and ready to go. It’s really a bummer to see so many injuries. Unfortunately, that’s part of our sport and to make it a full season without injury is very tough. I’ve been very fortunate to not have a major injury that forced me to sit out. Other than a small fracture to my leg, there have been some nagging injuries but nothing too major.”

Kevin Windham “I’ve definitely got a dislocated shoulder so that ends my season right there. I’ve had my wrist examined by two doctors; one said it was broken and the other one said it’s not. It’s very swollen and black and blue so it’s hard for them to tell. I’m going to see another specialist and have an MRI done to see exactly what’s up. We just need get it fixed properly. I can’t move my left thumb at all and my hip hurts. I’m not really sure what’s going on with either of them at the moment. I’m basically hurting all over. It’s disappointing. I’ve been lucky at avoiding big get-offs like the one I had in Houston for the past several years. Staying healthy has been a big part of my career going this long. But even after this one I’m not done. I’ll be back for sure.”

Ken Roczen “This is so awesome (from the podium in Houston). This is not how I want to win a race. Justin rode a great race and was really fast tonight, so it is unfortunate that he crashed. I am super happy to be back on top of the box.”

Justin Barcia “I don’t know what I can say. There is nothing I could do about the crash. I will fight through this and be back in New Orleans.”

CBS will broadcast the Supercross class race at 12:00pm EST on Sunday April 15, 2012.

Past Winners in New Orleans

Supercross Class: March 14, 2009: James Stewart, March 16, 2002: Ricky Carmichael, March 3, 2001: Ricky Carmichael, April 15, 2000: David Vuillemin, April 17, 1999: Ezra Lusk, March 14, 1998: Kevin Windham, May 3, 1980: Mike Bell, May 4, 1980: Mark Barnett, June 2, 1979: Steve Wise, May 20, 1978: Bob Hannah, June 4, 1977: Marty Smith

Supercross Lites Class: March 14, 2009: Austin Stroupe, March 16, 2002: Chad Reed, March 3, 2001: Travis Pastrana, April 15, 2000: Stephane Roncada, April 17, 1999: Ernesto Fonseca, March 14, 1998: Ricky Carmichael