Runner-up finish keeps Justin Barcia in command of AMA Supercross Lites series
Both of GEICO Honda’s Monster Energy AMA Supercross Lites riders finished on the podium Saturday night, the first time that has happened all season.
Justin Barcia led eight laps before eventually finishing second at Rogers Centre for his sixth consecutive podium, with stablemate Blake Wharton finishing third, his first podium of the season
“Last year I won this race, but this year was even tougher,” Barcia said. “The track was just sick. I struggled with the whoops this weekend and I really think that is what cost me the win.”
GEICO Honda’s Supercross rider Kevin Windham finished eighth.
In the Lites Main Event, Wharton got the holeshot and took the lead through the opening part of the rock-strewn course. Barcia, Dean Wilson, Malcom Stewart, and Ryan Sipes were hot on Wharton’s tail.
In a thrilling exchange, Wharton crossed bars with Sipes, knocking him off the track in a reversal of what happened in the Lites East opener in Houston. Barcia took the lead with Wilson second and Stewart third. Wharton settled into fourth.
“It’s just racing,” Wharton said. “I wasn’t complaining after Round 1. Nobody likes to get pushed of the track, so I can understand why (Sipes) is mad.”
A few laps later Stewart crashed hard on a jump, which moved Wharton up to third. Barcia, who hasn’t finished lower than second all year, and Wilson were settling into a battle of their own with Wilson riding strong Ã¢Â€Â“ and making up a lot of time through the whoops section. Wilson eventually reeled Barcia in at about halfway through the race before pulling away for the victory.
“I feel like I was good everywhere else, but Wilson was just better in the whoops,” Barcia said. “I rode a good race. I keep putting it on the (podium) box. I was going for the win tonight, but just didn’t make it happen.”
Barcia, who celebrated his 19th birthday Friday, leaves Canada with a 16-point edge on Wilson with three races left in the Lites East season.
“I feel great on the bike right now,” Barcia said. “I’m sure the team is stoked. We’d rather have been Nos. 1 and 2, but 2 and 3 is not bad for sure.”
Wharton, who has been fighting shoulder problems, said his podium finish was a long time coming.
“The first two rounds (of the season), I should have been on the podium,” Wharton said. “I just now happened to get on there. You’ve got to get good starts to get on the podium and I was able to do that tonight.”
The Supercross Main Event featured another wild and wooly start that Windham was tangled in. The loose, rocky course made passing difficult but the veteran rider battled on to scratch his way to an eighth-place finish.
“I’m really disgusted about everything that went down tonight,” Windham said. “We’ll just have to go back out next week and ride better.”
The Monster Energy AMA Supercross Series makes its way back to warmer climes on April 2, when the series shifts to Cowboy Stadium in Arlington, Texas.