Rockstar’s racers celebrate impressive finishes across the board
Photos by Jake Klingensmith
The Rockstar Energy Racing teams were truly a force to be reckoned with at round eight of the AMA/FIM Supercross Series at the Georgia Dome in Atlanta, GA, on Saturday night. All the Rockstar Energy athletes lifted their respective games and turned in impressive performances in front of the sold-out crowd of more than 70,000 screaming fans.
Rockstar Energy Racing’s Blake Wharton was definitely the hero for the night in Supercross Lites. After getting a great start in his six-lap heat race, Wharton battled for the lead for most of the heat before a small mistake saw him finish fourth. In the main event, Wharton again got a good start and was running in a podium position for most of the 15-lap race before finishing fourth.
“I put myself in a pretty good position in the main,” said Wharton. “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.”
Rockstar Energy Racing teammate Hunter Hewitt also turned in an impressive performance in Supercross Lites. Like Wharton, Hewitt had a good showing in his heat race, carding a fourth-place finish. In the main event, Hewitt put in a smart, consistent ride, coming from behind to bring home an eighth-place result.
“We made some big improvements in Atlanta,” said Hewitt. “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.”
Also in Supercross Lites, Star Valli Yamaha’s Kyle Cunningham overcame discomfort from last week’s crash to run up front and finish third in his heat race. In the main event, Cunningham pushed hard but a minor get-off irritated his injured wrist. Trying to salvage the situation, he backed off and finished seventh. Unfortunately, Star Valli Yamaha teammate Kyle Peters is still out due to injury, but hopes to be back next weekend.
“The track was fun, I just wish I was 100 percent healthy,” said Cunningham, who was unable to practice during the week. “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.”
In the Supercross class, Rockstar’s Brett Metcalfe captured an impressive third-place finish in his eight-lap heat race. With an aggressive jump off the gate, he nailed the holeshot and led for several laps before finishing third. In the 20-lap main event, Metcalfe got a decent start and was running in seventh before eventually finishing ninth.
“I was looking forward to this race, but it was a tough day,” said Metcalfe. “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, but I just wasn’t able to ride to my potential. I just need to go back and regroup for St. Louis. I’ve never raced the Supercross class there, so this is something new.”
Rockstar’s Nick Wey enjoyed a positive night in Atlanta, picking up a strong seventh-place result in his heat race. In the main event, he was right there with Metcalfe, following his Rockstar counterpart home in 10th.
“This weekend went pretty good,” said Wey. “This was my second top 10 of the season, but this time I feel like I was much closer to where I needed to be to get in the top five. In the main, I raced with guys that I want to be consistently battling and striving to beat so I can move up in the ranks. Now I’m looking forward to St. Louis. It’s always been one of my favorite races, my family comes down from Michigan and I’m excited to have a good race and move closer to the front.”
Also in the Supercross class, Star Valli Yamaha’s Bobby Kiniry continues to sub for injured Ryan Morais. Kiniry won the LCQ after leading almost every lap and then finished 14th in the main event.
“Luckily I’ve been pretty good at those LCQ’s lately,” said Kiniry. “I got myself into the main and I rode 20 solid laps. I came from last place and put in some consistent lap times and got up to 14th. I was catching that group in front of me but I ran out of time. My goal is to get up into the top 10 and I’m working toward that. I’ve always had good luck in St. Louis, so I’m looking forward to next weekend.”
Star Valli Yamaha’s Austin Stroupe remains out after breaking his collar bone at the recent Dallas Supercross, but hopes to return in several weeks. Teammate Nico Izzi has surgery on his injured wrist scheduled soon and hopes to race the Daytona Beach, FL, round in two weeks.
The next event for the Rockstar Energy Racing teams is the ninth round of the 2012 AMA/FIM Supercross Championship on Saturday, March 3rd, at the Edward Jones Dome in St. Louis, MO. You can meet the Yoshimura Suzuki and Rockstar Energy Racing Suzuki riders on Friday, March 2nd from 6 to 7 PM at Big St. Charles Motorsports, 3830 West Clay Street, St. Charles, MO 63301.