Rockstar Energy’s Blake Wharton cards fourth in first Supercross Lites East round
Photos by Jake Klingensmith
The Rockstar Energy Racing teams turned in some impressive yet hair-raising performances at round seven of the AMA/FIM Supercross Series at Cowboy Stadium in Arlington, TX, on Saturday night. The track was a tight, technical one, and it put all the Rockstar riders through their respective paces before the evening was over. Additionally, this round marked the first of the East Region Supercross Lites rounds.
Starting the East Coast rounds with a bang was Rockstar Energy Racing Suzuki’s Blake Wharton, who made it to the Supercross Lites main event after finishing fourth in his heat race. Although Wharton had a get-off in the 15-lap main, he recovered and brought home a solid fourth-place result.
“It was an interesting night,” said Wharton. “I would have liked to be on the podium, that’s certainly how you want to start out your season, but I felt like I had some good things going on. Ultimately, I have some things to work on, but the bikes were great and my starts were on point. Now, I’m definitely looking forward to Atlanta. I’ve raced there twice and I’ve done well. I like the track and it’s another place to make a statement. Every round is an opportunity, and I just have to keep pushing for it. I think I’ll be there in the end.”
Rockstar Energy Racing teammate Hunter Hewitt picked up the final transfer spot in his heat race, thanks to a ninth-place result. In the main, he struggled a little, but still put in a determined ride and finished 12th.
“This was one of those days where I never really got into my groove,” said Hewitt. “I worked really hard in the off-season so it was pretty frustrating, but the Rockstar Energy Racing team really helped keep me upbeat. We got through the heat race and into the main, and I just tried to ride my own race. We’re going to Atlanta next, and I think it’ll be a good race for us.”
Also in Supercross Lites, the Star Valli Yamaha team put forth a heroic effort. Kyle Cunningham scored an impressive third in his heat race, but a first-lap crash in the main saw him retire for the night. Star Valli Yamaha teammate Kyle Peters suffered a practice crash earlier in the week and did not race the evening’s event. Peters expects to be back as early as next weekend’s Atlanta round.
In the Supercross class, Rockstar’s Brett Metcalfe suffered a fairly nasty crash in practice but rallied to finish fourth in his heat race. In the 20-lap main, Metcalfe got a bad start that put him near the back of the field. Trying to make his way through, he collided with another rider coming off the triple. No one was injured, though Metcalfe’s shifter was damaged and stuck in second gear. Metcalfe still managed to pull-off an eighth-place finish.
“I was feeling pretty good coming into Dallas,” said Metcalfe. “We had some positive practice sessions, but then I crashed in practice and that kind of shook me up. I’m still a little bit sore from that. In the main, I hit the triple and I nearly landed on somebody, and it really scared me. Then, I realized that my shifter had gotten bent so I was stuck in second gear. Luckily, this was the kind of track where you could get away with using one gear for the whole lap, so it wasn’t so bad for me. After that, I backed it down because I just wanted to finish the race. Now I’m just looking forward to Atlanta. I think everyone loves to go to Atlanta, because the dirt’s really good and the track’s always fun.”
Rockstar Energy counterpart Nick Wey had a solid day in Arlington. After scoring 16th fastest in the afternoon timed practices, Wey qualified for the main with an eighth-place heat race result. The Rockstar Energy rider finished off the night with a consistent ride for a 12th-place finish in the Supercross main event.
Also in the Supercross class, Star Valli Yamaha’s Bobby Kiniry won the LCQ and went on to finish 14th in the main event. Star Valli’s Nico Izzi, who races Supercross Lites West, made it to the Supercross main event with a seventh-place heat race finish. In the main, Izzi put in about seven laps before retiring with wrist pain and may sit out the next few rounds. Finally, Star Valli’s Austin Stroupe was recently returned to racing after a concussion, but he crashed in practice injuring his shoulder.
The next event for the Rockstar Energy Racing teams is the eighth round of the 2012 AMA/FIM Supercross Championship on Saturday, February 25th, at the Georgia Dome in Atlanta, GA. You can meet the Rockstar Energy Racing Suzuki riders on Friday, February 24th from 6 to 7 PM at Mountain Motorsports, 899 Iris Drive S.E., Conyers, GA.