Did anyone know? Think back to the opening round of the 2011 AMA Supercross Series at Anaheim. A1. Did anyone thing that with two rounds remaining in the series, the top four riders would all be in contention for that coveted title – 2011 AMA Supercross Series Champion?
A lot is going to happen in this last two rounds. You can bet on it. Drama. Excitement. The unexpected.
At the end of the night next Saturday in Las Vegas – one team, one rider, one family, will be extremely happy. The other three contenders – not so happy.
Why? Because what was essentially a 17 race long season, has now turned into a two race ‘anything goes’ sprint. Historians of the sport have seen it before. Close racing. Block passes. Dirty riding. (I didn’t like to call it dirty riding. In fact, I’d like to see more of it. It creates interest in the series, something to look forward to in the next event, and helps to make Supercross athletes more well know to the general media and public.)
But let’s say that the final determination of the 2011 AMA Supercross Series title comes down to the final race in Las Vegas. We’ve got (right now) the top four riders all in contention. I’ll try to play a little guessing game with what each of them is thinking. But know this – I’d bet that each of them knows, he can do whatever it takes to go home with that championship, including ‘dirty riding’ …. because five years from now, no one will care. No one will remember. They’ll only care, and remember about who was the champion, and the name of the rider that went down in the history books.
First – let’s try to get into what Chad Reed is thinking. He’s got a lot on his side. He has the most experience in the premiere Supercross class. Been doing it for almost a decade. Has been in many battle that came down to the wire. I don’t think he’ll change his game plan, I don’t think he’s nervous, and he’s very strong physically and mentally and peaking at the right time of the season. Chad has won two AMA Supercross Series Championships before – 2004 and 2008. He knows what it takes to win.
Chad says: I am not sure what caused the crash last weekend, but I am lucky to be safe and have another chance to fight for this title. I am mad at myself for giving up two points in the title chase, but it could have been a lot worse. The championship is on the line and its time to go for it. I am going to give it everything I have to win this year.
Ryan Dungey – Ryan is the defending Supercross Series Champion. He rides with the big number 1 red plate on his Suzuki. Ryan could be peaking at the right time of the year too. He’s ‘that close’ to another championship. I think his confidence has steadily increased all season, and … you never know what could happen in these final two rounds. It could be ‘Ryan’s time’. He’s always maintained a very steady, quiet confident demeanor through out the entire series.
RD says: All in all, it was a pretty good night in Seattle. I got off to a good start in my heat and ended up finishing third. The track was really gnarly out there. It kind of wanted to just come up and bite you, especially by the end of the 20 laps. I got off to a decent start, but I fell down in the first lap and I think I was near last. But at that point, I just put my head down and tried to pick off as many guys as I could and was able to move up and finish fifth. Everyone did a great job today. Going forward, we have a nice break and then we’ll get into Salt Lake and will be ready to give it a hard push for the last two races.
James Stewart – What’s going thru James’ mind? I don’t know … but I’ll guess it’s simple. Win these last two races. That’s it … although easier said than done : ) He’s got three riders ahead of him in points. He’s got to leap-frog them all to win the title. James has to play leap-frog. Win or go home. James, like Chad and Ryan, have won this thing before. James won the AMA Supercross Championship in 2007, and in 2009.
James says: I was able to get a good start in Seattle, which made it a lot easier to manage the race. I went into last weekends break with the momentum, and I look forward to coming out swinging heading into Salt Lake City this Saturday. My weekend in Seattle was great. I really couldn’t ask for anything better. Everything really worked out, my San Manuel Yamaha was riding great, and the technical track kind of played to my advantage. It feels great to get another win! We had a week off, and I hope to make it happen again in Salt Lake.
Ryan Villopoto – This is Ryan’s third year in the premiere Supercross class. I believe over the last two years he has more wins than anyone. He’s proven he has the speed. He’s proven he’s on a great team. And he’s led most of the series championship this year.
Leading the series with two rounds to go …. I don’t know (yet) what Monster Energy Kawasaki has planned as far as strategy. Does Ryan go for wins? Does he ‘play it safe’? We’ll see what happens in Salt Lake City.
RV says: I’m looking forwards to going to Salt Lake City. I missed last year and I remember the dirt being a lot like Seattle. I just hope the weather is better to us compared to what I watched on TV last year.
No matter. These final two race weekend of the 2011 AMA Supercross Series are going to be incredibly exciting! Once again – expect Drama. Excitement. The unexpected. And maybe some bar banging. Can’t wait!
p.s. Supercross.com will have it’s normal coverage of both events here on the site. Hope you enjoy it. And, let’s not forget – there are two other championship battles going on – 250 West and 250 East Regional Championships with Broc Tickle, Josh Hansen, Eli Tomac, Cole Seely, Justin Barcia, Dean Wilson … and world star Ken Roczen will be racing as well.
To see the results, point standings, and photos as they come into this round in Salt Lake City, here’s your link!
And now, courtesy of our friends at Feld Motor Sports, more info regarding the Salt Lake City Supercross
Stewart Snaps Back with Two-Race Win Streak with Monster Energy Supercross Return to Salt Lake City
4 Riders, 9 Points, 2 Races, 1 Championship
After going winless in eight races, Team San Manuel Yamaha’s James Stewart, of Haines City, Fla., is on a two-race win streak as the Monster Energy AMA Supercross, an FIM World Championship, closes in on the final two races of the season. Four riders are separated by nine points as the championship heads to Salt Lake City’s Rice-Eccles Stadium.
Monster Energy Kawasakis Ryan Villopoto, Rockstar/Makita Suzukis Ryan Dungey, TwoTwo Motorsports/Bel-Ray Racing Honda’s Chad Reed and Stewart round out the top four places, respectively. With Stewart’s win at Qwest Field in Seattle, hes now tied with Villopoto at five for the most wins this season. On the other hand, Dungey and Reed have only one win apiece.
Heading into the penultimate stop of the 2011 Monster Energy Supercross championship, Ryan Villopoto sits in first place, six points ahead of Chad Reed.
A mere six points behind Villopoto is TwoTwo Motorsports/Bel-Ray Racing’s Chad Reed. The two-time champion’s foray into ownership has proven successful with a win and exceptional consistency this season. Now he sits in position to claim a third title, but is also engaged in a heated battle with reigning champion Ryan Dungey, who sits just one additional point back in third.
Chad Reed was able to escape disaster in Seattle when he suffered a horrific crash with two laps to go, handing second place to GEICO Hondas Kevin Windham, who won in Seattle last year. After remounting, Reed held off a hard charging Villopoto to salvage third place. Reed is now six points out of the lead.
With 11 podium finishes this season, Dungey ran into some bad luck in Seattle, finishing fifth, which is his second-worst finish of the season. The defending Supercross class champion is now seven points out of the lead.
In the Western Regional Supercross Lites class, Monster Energy/Pro Circuit/Kawasakis Broc Tickle moved into the points lead after finishing third at Seattles Qwest Field. Tickle leads his teammate Josh Hansen 145-143 headed into this weekends race. Troy Lee Honda’s Cole Seeley captured the main event win in Seattle, marking the second of his career.
GIECO Honda’s Eli Tomac currently sits third in the Western Regional Supercross Lites class championship, just seven points behind Tickle.
The first supercross race held at Rice-Eccles Stadium took place in 2001 where 42,135 packed the home of the 2002 Olympic Opening and Closing Ceremonies to watch Ricky Carmichael race to victory. Carmichael holds the all-time Supercross class win record in Salt Lake City with two. Stewart holds the all-time Supercross Lites class win record at Salt
Lake City with two.
Tickets available at the Rice-Eccles Box Office, or charge by phone at (801) 581-UTIX. Tickets will also be available at participating Yamaha dealers. Practice and qualifying begins at 12:30 p.m., and the main event begins at 7:00 p.m. Gold tickets: $45; Mid-level tickets: $35; Treadhead tickets: $10. Fans can also get into the Pits for FREE from 12:30 – 6 PM Race Day when they recycle a MONSTER Energy Can at the stadium Pit Entrance (valid only with event ticket).
Past Winners in Salt Lake City: Supercross Class: May 1, 2010 Kevin Windham, April 25, 2009 James Stewart, April 24, 2004 Kevin Windham, April 26, 2003 Chad Reed, April 27, 2002 Ricky Carmichael, April 28, 2001 Ricky Carmichael. Supercross Lites Class: May 1, 2010 Josh Hansen, April 25, 2009:Trey Canard, April 24, 2004 Ivan Tedesco, April 26, 2003: James Stewart, April 27, 2002 James Stewart, April 28, 2001 Ernesto Fonseca.
The Utah Sports Commission plays a central role in the Salt Lake City supercross races and continues to take vital routes to keep Rice-Eccles Stadium on the Monster Energy Supercross schedule, said Todd Jendro, senior director of two wheel operations, Feld Motor Sports. Monster Energy Supercross will bring a $9 million economic impact to Salt Lake City and provide approximately $2 million in media value to Utah during the CBS broadcast of the event.
“Utah is delighted that this premier world motorsports event has returned to showcase our great state to a nationally televised audience,” said Governor Gary R. Herbert. “Revving supercross engines are actually the perfect metaphor for our revving Utah economy and the extra economic charge this event delivers.”
“Certainly Monster Energy Supercross has become a key motorsports championship both nationally and internationally and for Utah to be able to host it once again, is great for our economy and image as we continue to build Utah as the state of sport,” said Jeff Robbins, president & CEO of the Utah Sports Commission.
Last year more than 35,000 fans braved a mixture of snow, sleet, and rain at Rice Eccles Stadium where Kevin Windham raced to his second victory of the season and Jake Weimer claimed the Western Regional AMA Supercross Lites championship.
The first supercross race held at Rice-Eccles Stadium took place in 2001 where 42,135 fans packed the venue to witness Ricky Carmichael win his 13th race of the 16 round season.
Supercross Laps Lead: James Stewart 111, Ryan Villopoto 67, Trey Canard 53, Chad Reed 33, Ryan Dungey 21, Kevin Windham 10, Ivan Tedesco 4, Brett Metcalfe 1
Supercross Lites Class Laps Lead: Justin Barcia 60, Josh Hansen 34, Cole Seely 30, Broc Tickle 22, Blake Baggett 22, Eli Tomac 18, Dean Wilson 15, Ryan Sipes 12, Blake Wharton 11, Ken Roczen 1
After missing nearly his entire rookie season due to an injury suffered in preseason testing, Monster Energy Kawasaki’s Jake Weimer will make his Supercross class debut in Salt Lake City. A native of nearby Idaho, the Salt Lake City stop also serves as Weimer’s home race, making it the ideal spot to kick off his 2011 season.
I am really excited to get back out and race,” said Weimer. “It’s been a while since I’ve actually raced because I was injured at the end of last year and missed a few races. The team has been great helping me get back up to speed. I’ve been feeling good so I hope it goes well.”
While serving as a pivotal race in the championship, Seattle also signified the return of the Supercross Lites Western Regional Championship. After seven weeks on the sidelines, the intense battle for the title resumed at Qwest Field and when things were all said and done, the entire championship landscape had been altered.
Monster Energy/Pro Circuit/Kawasaki riders Broc Tickle and Josh Hansen entered Seattle just three points apart. Following the 15-lap main event, the deficit between the duo remained the same, but the pair swapped positions as Tickle’s third-place podium finish was enough to move him in front of Hansen, who recorded his second straight sixth-place effort.
To make things more challenging for the two most consistent riders in the West Region this season, both riders are battling their own respective injuries. Hansen’s broken hand suffered at the final Anaheim race appeared to cause him trouble in Seattle as he fell from a third-place start to finish sixth. Despite that, he’s still very much alive in his quest to claim his first-career AMA Supercross Lites title and will do whatever it takes over the final two weekends to get it.
“I really want to win the championship and I hope I’ve shown that I want it,” said Hansen. “I’m not giving up and I’ve been working hard to make sure I can be ready for Salt Lake City.”
As for Tickle, he refused to let a broken collarbone suffered just two weeks prior to Seattle slow him down. A metal plate held his bones in place and Tickle endured the pain to bring home a third-place effort and take over the lead in the standings. Now he controls his own destiny to the title, something he’s never had the opportunity to do before.
“I am really looking for another win,” said Tickle. “I am definitely happy that I am in the points lead and that is the ultimate goal. I really liked Salt Lake City last year so I hope it’s a good chance for me to get another win and extend my points lead.”
In only his first season riding supercross, the third member of the Monster Energy/Pro Circuit/Kawasaki team Tyla Rattray has put in impressive results, including two podium finishes. He is looking to add to the podium count in Salt Lake City with another good ride.
“Every time I come out, I’m shooting for the podium,” said Rattray. “I am happy with how the season has gone so far and I want to end the season with good finishes. I hope Salt Lake City can be where I can add another podium.”
CBS will broadcast the Supercross class race at 12:00 p.m. EST/9:00 a.m. PST on May 1, 2011. SPEED will broadcast the Supercross Lites class race at 6:00 p.m. EST/3:00 p.m. PST on May 1, 2011 and will also broadcast the Supercross class race at 3:00 a.m. EST/12:00 a.m. PST on May 6, 2011.
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The top four in Supercross 2011!