Justin Barcia and Kevin Windham in top form as 2012 Supercross tour arrives in Houston
GEICO Honda’s Justin Barcia will be shooting for this sixth Monster Energy AMA Supercross Lites East victory of the season this Saturday at Reliant Stadium.
Another win would add to his commanding 28-point lead over second-place Blake Wharton, a former teammate. Barcia said he’s starting to feel the championship pressure shift from his shoulders to those who are chasing him, because with just three races left they are running out of opportunities to try and catch him.
“I just love to race right now,” Barcia said. “You have to deal with pressure every weekend no matter what. I’ve done my best to run smart, smooth races all year long and it’s worked out for me.”
Barcia said he plans on staying smart and smooth in Texas because he knows another win would put him that much closer to a second straight title.
“Houston has always been good to me and it has good dirt,” Barcia said. “It should be another good weekend for me; really for all of us in the GEICO Honda pit. The whole team has been doing just awesome and I can’t wait to get back on my bike.”
GEICO Honda Supercross rider Kevin Windham is entering a “home” stretch of sorts over the next few weeks with the race in Houston, a week off for Easter at his current residence in western Mississippi, then the event in his native New Orleans. Three straight weeks of no airplane flights should also do wonders for Windham’s aching back.
“I’m hoping this trio of races will help me bounce back quicker, being so close to home,” said Windham, who crashed hard two races ago in Indianapolis. “Everyone who rides Supercross has to deal with injuries – it’s a tough sport from that aspect. We’re going to find the right program for me that will be the right balance of riding and recovery.”
With James Stewart week-to-week nursing a myriad of injuries including a broken hand, Windham, who has two podium finishes in the last three weeks, has found himself in the thick of tight points race.
Windham trails fourth place Davi Millsaps by three points and third place Stewart by 11. Sixth-place Justin Brayton is also in the mix, as he trails Windham by just a single point.
“The GEICO Honda team has been strong all year, and now we’re getting the results to back it up,” Windham said. “And I’m looking forward to the hometown crowd. The fans have been great all year but I know it’s going to be special the next couple of weeks.”
The team’s other Lites East rider, Justin Bogle, is hoping that being close to his home state of Oklahoma will turn his luck around. The rookie has shown flashes of brilliance at points this season but mistakes have hampered his finishes.
“Being so close to home a lot of my friends and family are going to be there,” Bogle said. “That should make it more comfortable for me. I just have to concentrate on minimizing my mistakes out there.”
Lites West rider Wil Hahn of Decatur, Texas, will once again pilot a 450cc bike and race Supercross in Houston for Muscle Milk Honda, a sister operation to the GEICO Honda team. Hahn finished 10th last week in his Supercross debut, which was also his first race back from a long layoff due to a hip fracture.
“I’m really happy with the way Toronto went,” Hahn said. “The biggest relief is knowing that I treated my injury correctly. I never once felt anything wrong with my hip the whole time I was out there. It’s always good to have a platform to build off. I can’t wait to get to Houston. My whole family is driving down to be there. The dirt in Houston is almost exactly like what I ride on when I’m home. There’s going to be a real homecoming feeling when I get down there.”
Practice for Saturday’s race begins at 12:30 p.m. CDT at Houston’s Reliant Stadium with opening ceremonies starting at 7 p.m. The Supercross race will broadcast on Sunday by CBS affiliates across the country (see local listings for times) and the Lites East racing will be broadcast at 1 p.m. EDT Sunday on SPEED TV.