Updated 6:31pm Pacfic Time. Last weekend was one of the best supercross races we have witnessed all season long. What’s more – the excitement largely involved someone other than the “Big Four”. Anytime a big name rider gets hurt, the question always comes up, “Who will step in to take his place?”
Last year that question was answered for Josh Grant’s vacated factory Honda when Cole Seely stepped in for a few 450 rounds on the East Coast to try his hand at some big bore riding. Seely had some decent rides but nothing too impressive. When Trey Canard got hurt at the Los Angeles Supercross this year, the question came up once again. Again it was a factory Honda, and again the answer to the riddle was Cole Seely. But this time the Lucas Oil/TLD/Honda Lites rider had something more on his side: experience and maturity.
When the gate dropped for the Supercross Main Event in Atlanta, it wasn’t James Stewart, Ryan Villopoto, or Ryan Dungey who jumped out to the lead. It was the number 34 of Seely. But that wasn’t the impressive part.
Ã‚Â 2012 Atlanta Supercross results, points and more!
Dungey had the next best jump and quickly gained on Seely. By the end of the first lap, it looked as though Seely’s run at the front might be over before it had much of a chance to start. But then he countered on Dungey’s move, and put down some blazing laps to not only remain in the lead, but open a gap on the former Supercross and Motocross champion. Seely would go onto lead the next seven laps before Dungey ever had an opportunity to make a move. With just these few laps of glory alone, Seely may have just secured a 450 ride for when he does finally make the fulltime jump up to the big bikes. Of course, he was later displaced by the likes of Dungey, Villopoto, Stewart, Davi Millsaps, and Justin Brayton, but Cole was impressive and made his mark.
Dungey went on to take the win just ahead of Villopoto, and well ahead of Stewart, who was the victim of a caution light that allowed the two lead riders to get away. Dungey’s win was his second win of the season and KTM’s second win ever in the premier Supercross class. Thank’s to the orange win, Villopoto’s lead has now shrunk to ten points over Dungey, but he remains 44 points ahead of Stewart.
In Lites racing, Justin Barcia once again trounced the competition. Maybe “trounced” is a strong word, but he undoubtedly won and was basically unchallenged for the entire race. Blake Baggett, meanwhile, recovered from his unfortunate first round in Dallas to finish second in Atlanta, and Justin Bogle took home a strong third (in what was only second professional Supercross race ever).
Bogle is a name that you can expect to be hearing a lot of in the future as, although he is a rookie, he rides with the maturity of a seasoned pro with a new school style. Bogle is a natural, as he proved earlier in the evening by taking the first heat race win. Further back, Ken Roczen had the misfortune of getting stuck in the gate at the start and was forced to begin the race from dead, dead, dead last. The result for the hard charging German? Sixth place. If Roczen can get a good start, he will be challenging for the lead.
Next up is St. Louis. For one reason or another, call it fate, St. Louis has served up some very exciting and championship-changing rounds since the Show Me State began hosting races back in 1996. What happened that year? Only Jeff Emig putting an end to what almost became the only perfect season ever in Supercross. Who’s perfect season would it have been? Come, on. You know the answer: Jeremy McGrath’s. It was only the second win in Emig’s career, but it was enough to put an end to MC’s incredible streak.
Then there was 2006, when Ricky Carmichael’s shock broke while he was in the points lead. The incident allowed Chad Reed to sneak into the lead while James Stewart inched within striking distance. But we all know what happened in the end. Please…he’s the GOAT! The guy never lost a title defense, and he was defending a title that year, so it’s pretty straightforward.
Then there was 2009 and the Travis Pastrana-designed mega track that had some of the weirdest and coolest bowl turns to ever appear on a Supercross course. It also made for some great racing and caused an upset in the championship when Stewart missed a shift on a step-up and crashed while leading, handing the win and some very precious points over to Chad Reed.
Most recently, St. Louis was the site of an epic Dungey vs. Villopoto battle that ended in an eventual title for one, and disaster for the other. While fighting for the lead, the duo came into a tough rhythm section that was essentially do-or-die. Both “did”, but Villopoto didn’t quite “do” properly, and got ejected from his bike. The crash resulted in a season ending injury and Dungey went on to claim both the Supercross and AMA Pro MX championship in 2010.
So what will St. Louis bring this year? Guaranteed, a whole bunch of Budweiser (the brewery is right down the street). But racing-wise, one thing that St. Louis always has is great dirt. It provides just the right amount of traction that allows passes to be made unexpectedly in turns, but not too much where riders get tired too quickly. Dungey and Villopoto are, once again, locked in a battle for Supercross supremacy while Stewart, quite simply, needs to start winning races again.
As history suggests, something unexpected could very well happen along the banks of the Mississippi River this Saturday night!
Revisit the 2011 St. Louis Supercross!
The 411 video with Pro Circuit mechanics
Follow Supercross.com’s Twitter Feed
2012 AMA Supercross Series Schedule
2012 FIM World MX GP schedule
2012 AMA National Motocross Series
AMA Supercross Series results
World MX GP results
AMA National Motocross results
RJ Says – video blog – message to Chad Reed
Notes and Stats courtesy Feld Motor Sports – Monster Energy Supercross, St. Louis, Edward Jones Dome
Supercross Class laps lead so far this season – Ryan Villopoto: 79, Ryan Dungey: 33, Chad Reed: 24, James Stewart: 11, Cole Seely: 7, Jake Weimer: 5, Brett Metcalfe: 1
Supercross Lites Class laps lead so far this season – Eli Tomac: 40, Dean Wilson: 30, Justin Barcia: 22, Cole Seely: 15, Darryn Durham: 8, Tyla Rattray: 3, Martin Davalos: 2
Ryan Villopoto “The track was tough last weekend and there weren’t too many spots to make up time. Even though Chad (Reed) is out of the chase, that doesn’t change my plan. We lost three points last weekend, so we need to just keep to our goal in St. Louis, which is trying to win races.”
Jake Weimer “I need to find a bit more speed. Running for 20 laps is not the problem. I just need to get faster to run with the leaders every week. Being back in Florida during the week should help to change it up.”
Cole Seely “I felt confident with my performance going from the heat race into the main. In the main, I got the holeshot and expected to see someone’s front wheel within the first few laps, but it didn’t happen and I was able to lead for a while. I tried to hold a decent pace for as long as I could, but I got a little tired and some of the other guys got by me. That race was good for me to see where I am in the Supercross Class and it gives me more confidence going into this weekend.”
Kevin Windham “I knew as soon I came off the line that it was going to be a long night. Although it left a lot to be desired out there, I am really focused on my accomplishment of being able to stick around this long. With such a competitive Supercross Class, it is hard to go out there and get a podium when you are up against a bad start. I am happy and grateful for everyone who has helped get me to 200 starts.”
Brett Metcalfe “I was looking forward to Atlanta, but it was a tough day. I didn’t feel comfortable in practice, and it was a tough track for me. That was a bummer because it was a technical track and normally that’s good for me. We had some positives, though; I got some good starts on the Yoshimura Suzuki RM-Z450, but I just wasn’t able to ride to my potential. I just need to go back and regroup for St. Louis. I haven’t been to St. Louis for quite a while, and I’ve never raced the Yoshimura Suzuki RM-Z450 there, so this is something new. Also, it’s another round for me to improve, so I’m just going to keep working hard and try to make some progress in all areas.”
Broc Tickle “I want a good finish so bad to build off of. I really like racing in domes, and I know if I get a good start in St. Louis, I’ll be able to ride and finish where I should be.”
Justin Barcia “The night went really good for me. I had good practices and a decent heat race, but I knew I could be up front in the main. The GEICO Honda CRF250R was running great and I felt awesome. I got the holeshot in the main and ran my own race. With two wins under my belt, I am ready to head into next weekend and grab a third.”
Justin Bogle “The track was really good, a lot more technical than Arlington, which I think suits my riding style better. I got a sixth-place start and was able to make some passes and capitalize on some mistakes. It was a great night and I’m excited for the rest of the season.”
Blake Baggett “I rode every day going into Atlanta and did the same thing this week. We tested some new settings this weekend and I feel confident for Saturday. Going into St. Louis the goal is simple, try to win, and try and collect as many points as possible.”
Darryn Durham “I rode tight last weekend and never got in a flow of clicking off smooth laps. I’m looking forward to the dirt in St. Louis, its awesome so hopefully I can make up some points.”
Blake Wharton “I put myself in a pretty good position in the main in Atlanta. I had some little problems, but everyone’s going to have problems. In the heat race, I was doing well, but then I crashed. I’ve just got to go and work at it some more. I like St. Louis; I won there in 2009. That sure would be nice, to go there and throw down and take the win.”
Hunter Hewitt “We made some big improvements in Atlanta. I wanted to set a goal and achieve it, and I did that. I got a 15th-place start in the main event, but I was able to work my way up to eighth place. This was an improvement and I’m excited to carry that momentum over to St. Louis.”
Kyle Cunningham “The track was fun, I just wish I was 100 percent healthy. Things were going really good until I crashed in the main, and then my wrist started hurting, so I had to do what was best to finish the race. Now, I’m looking forward to St. Louis. It’s been awhile since I’ve been there and the track is pretty fun.”
More coming later today!