WHAT HAPPENS IN VEGAS STAYS IN VEGAS – ROUND 17
On Saturday night, the doors will close on the 2014 AMA Supercross series and FIM World Championships. This season has produced the deepest field of talent and the greatest display of perseverance and athleticism that the sport has ever witnessed in its history. Race fans are left with one last round at Sam Boyd Stadium in Las Vegas, Nevada, where, for some, lifelong dreams will be conquered.
In light of claiming the 2014 450SX class AMA Supercross championship title, Ryan Villopoto is the only rider to arrive in Vegas free of the pressure of expectations. Monster Energy/Kawasaki’s Ryan Villopoto is only the second rider in history to claim four back-to-back Supercross titles in the history of the sport. Jeremy McGrath, known as the “King of Supercross” was the first rider to accomplish this feat back in 1996 when he claimed his fourth premier class title.
Many other riders in the 450SX class, that had hopes of claiming the title in the most competitive season the sport has ever seen, now have contracts on the line, pending results. For these riders who are in contract years with their teams have the extra stress and pressure added to their plates to perform well this coming weekend in Vegas. Although an entire season of below expectation results will not be forgotten by team managers, an excellent showing in Vegas may butter them up to sign for another year.
After taking four months off due to injury and missing the majority of the supercross season, many would assume that the pressure is on for Trey Canard, as his contract ends this year with the Muscle Milk/Honda Team. The results that Canard has achieved since his return at St. Louis has been nothing short of amazing, considering his laundry list of injuries and the amount of time he was off the bike. However, regardless of his consistent top five finishes, Trey said he is confident that his team is behind him 100% and will resign him for the following season.
Former title champion, Ryan Dungey has managed to hold onto to second in the championship points chase with only one win on the 2014 series, to date. Although, he has maintained a respectable position in the series, his results are surely less than respectable for his himself and his team. After all, in the mind of a past champion in any sport, nothing short of winning is admirable.
For two time title champion, James Stewart, results and expectations have been similar to that of Ryan Dungey. However 2014 had seemingly found a new light for the number seven of James Stewart. Although the results of the season were likely short of what he had planned for himself, many would believe that Stewart had found something much more valuable than a championship in 2014. Unfortunately, after a poor start last weekend in New Jersey, Stewart lost the front end in an off-camber and tweaked his knee. Yoshimura/Suzuki team manager said they were going to get the knee checked out on Monday and were looking forward to motocross season. In any case, it sounds like Stewart will not be performing in Vegas this coming weekend.
Similar to each season of supercross that has preceded 2014, there is typically only a short list of contenders to make it the final round of Supercross at Sam Boyd Stadium in Las Vegas, Nevada. This year the injured list seems to be longer than most with a number of riders unable to compete to injuries they’ve sustained while racing or riding. The 450SX class will be missing; Davi Millsaps, Wil Hahn, Chad Reed and James Stewart, to mention a few. While the 250SX class will be missing all three Monster Energy/Pro Circuit/Kawasaki West riders; Martin Davalos, Adam Cianciarulo and Blake Baggett, as well as, Canadian rider, Cole Thompson.
Despite the absence of many of the top riders in each class the show at the finale of the series always seems to bring the most hype and exciting racing of the year. The battle for the championship for the title in the 250SX East class between Cole Seely and points leader, Jason Anderson is likely to have the crowd on the edge of their seats. In the 250SX West class, as long as Justin Bogle finishes strong he will wrap up his first ever championship title. Without the pressures of any championship hopes for any of the riders, the 450 race will likely be one of the most exciting races of the year. In a class packed with former champions and race winners, the only goal for each rider on the line is to win, whether there is a championship on the line or not.
The countdown is on until the gate drops on the final events at Sam Boyd Stadium in Las Vegas, Nevada.