Updated 4:30pm Pacfic Time, Friday February 24: Last week may have marked the biggest change so far in the 2012 Monster Energy AMA Supercross Series. Not only did Ryan Villopoto ride away with his third win in a row, but his closest competitor, Chad Reed, crashed out of the race and the series.
The Dallas Supercross 20 lap main event was shaping up to be one of the best of the season. Villopoto and Reed both had great starts and were in first and second by the end of the first lap. As the laps clicked off something became apparent: Reed was riding faster than Villopoto. With the race nearing the halfway point, Reed looked poised to set-up a pass. Making up fractions of a second per lap, Reed was soon right on Villopoto’s rear wheel and the number 22 Honda seemed to be aware of the sections in which he was quicker. Heading into the sand section, where Chad had been making up time, the two riders were very close to one another, and then something went wrong.
Chad had been one of the only riders tripling into the section, but this time around, his bike did not level out in the air as it should have. Instead the front end dove just enough to send Chad and his bike violently to the ground when the front wheel touched down.
Villopoto would go on to to take an unchallenged win. Reed, on the other hand, suffered one of the worst injuries in his professional career: broken ribs, a broken tib/fib, torn ACL, and a broken vertebrae. He will be out for at least the remainder of the Supercross series.
Meanwhile, Ryan Dungey had recovered from a less than favorable start to find his way all the way up to second at the finish. Jake Weimer finished third. James Stewart had a run in with his teammate on the first lap that caused a bike stall. He would eventually fight his way up to sixth.
With Reed out of the series, Dungey is Villpoto’s closest competitor and sits 13 points back. James Stewart has a ways to go to get within striking distance at, as he is 42 points behind the leader.
In 250cc racing, the East Lites championship kicked off in Dallas with some great racing. Defending champion, Justin Barcia, looked very fast all day and would eventually go on to take the 15 lap main event win, but was not without challengers. Blake Wharton had the early lead but was eventually passed by Darryn Durham. Durham, on his new Pro Circuit ride, looked comfortable at the front and would lead the next several laps before a very aggressive move by Barcia.
Rookie rider Justin Bogle, proved to be one of the fast new faces in the crowd, running up front for much of the main before an overly aggressive move by Malcolm Stewart took both riders down (Stewart was fined $500 dollars for the move, while Bogle was fined the same amount for slapping Stewart on the helmet in anger). Current MX2 World Motocross Champion Ken Roczen showed that he has not lost his indoor skills, coming from sixth up to third at the finish, missing out on second by mere inches behind Durham.
Now the series heads to one of the biggest attended events all year long, the Atlanta Supercross held at the Georgia Dome. Another sand section, more whoops, and the infamous Georgia red clay will make for an excellent track this Saturday. If you are not going to be in the Peach Tree state, you can catch the race live on SPEED beginning at 7:30pm EST.
To keep Villopoto from running away with the title, either Dungey or Stewart will need to step up their game this weekend in Reed’s absence. Dungey has been the most consistent rider so far this year, finishing no worse than fourth. But he will need to find that little bit extra to challenge the defending champ. Stewart on the other hand, will need to put the crashes aside if he intends to challenge for the number one plate. At this point, he will need to be there every week to get within striking distance in the points.
In Lites racing, expect some new faces to pop up in the top five. Kyle Cunningham was dealt a bad hand in Dallas, not even completing one full lap. He certainly has top five speed however. Bogle might be a rookie, but he rides with surprising maturity. Don’t be surprised to see both he and Malcolm Stewart up near the front again. Durham also looks poised for a break-through win as does Wharton, who has not won a main event since 2009. The two that everyone expects to see up front are Barcia and Roczen. Add in Blake Baggett, who had a terrible first race, and the 2012 Lites series is going to be one to remember.
Courtesy Feld Motorsports
Supercross Class Previous Wins in Atlanta:
February 26, 2011 Ryan Villopoto
February 27, 2010 Ryan Dungey
February 21, 2009 James Stewart
February 23, 2008 Davi Millsaps
February 24, 2007 James Stewart
February 25, 2006 Ricky CarmichaelÃ‚Â Ã‚Â Ã‚Â Ã‚Â Ã‚Â Ã‚Â Ã‚Â Ã‚Â Ã‚Â
February 26, 2005 Ricky Carmichael
February 28, 2004 Chad Reed
February 22, 2003 Ricky Carmichael
February 23, 2002 Ricky Carmichael
February 24, 2001 Ricky Carmichael
February 26, 2000 Jeremy McGrath
February 20, 1999 Jeremy McGrath
February 21, 1998 Jeremy McGrath
February 22, 1997 Damon Huffman
February 24, 1996 Jeremy McGrath
February 25, 1995 Mike LaRocco
February 26, 1994 Jeremy McGrath
February 20, 1993 Damon Bradshaw
February 22, 1992 Damon Bradshaw
February 23, 1991 Damon Bradshaw
February 24, 1990 Jeff Ward
February 25, 1989 Jeff Stanton
February 22, 1986 Rick Johnson
February 23, 1985 Mark Barnett
February 25, 1984 Johnny O’ Mara
March 5, 1983 Mark Barnett
February 27, 1982 Bob Hannah
February 28, 1981 Mark Barnett
March 1, 1980 Chuck Sun
March 3, 1979 Bob Hannah
March 4, 1978 Marty Tripes
March 5, 1977 Bob Hannah
Supercross Lites Class Previous Wins in Atlanta:
February 26, 2011 Dean Wilson
February 27, 2010 Christophe Pourcel
February 21, 2009 Christophe Pourcel
February 23. 2008 Trey Canard
February 24, 2007 Ryan Dungey
February 25, 2006 Josh Grant
February 26, 2005 Grant Langston
February 28, 2004 James Stewart
February 22, 2003 Brock Sellards
February 23, 2002 Chad Reed
February 24, 2001 Nate Ramsey
February 26, 2000 Stephane Roncada
February 20, 1999 Ernesto Fonseca
February 21, 1998 Ricky Carmichael
February 22, 1997 Ricky Carmichael
February 24, 1996 John Dowd
February 25, 1995 Mickael Pichon
February 26, 1994 Ezra Lusk
February 20, 1993 Doug Henry
February 22, 1992 Brian Swink
February 23, 1991 Brian Swink
February 24, 1990 Denny Stephenson
February 25, 1989 Damon Bradshaw
February 22, 1986 Keith Turpin
Supercross Class Laps led so far this season:
Ryan Villopoto 79
Chad Reed 24
Ryan Dungey 20
James Stewart 11
Jake Weimer 5
Brett Metcalfe 1
Supercross Lites Class Laps led so far this season:
Eli Tomac 40
Dean Wilson 30
Cole Seely 15
Darryn Durham 8
Justin Barcia 7
Tyla Rattray 3
Martin Davalos 2
Ryan Villopoto “Arlington went pretty good for me. In the main I got a great start and was able to take over the lead on the first lap. For the first eight laps I could hear Chad (Reed) behind me and saw his fender a few times. I just kept pushing and trying to stay a step ahead of him. Once he went down, I just focused on riding smooth and connecting my lines. I’m going to keep working on improving my starts and riding smart, we aren’t even halfway through the season.”
Ryan Dungey “I was happy to be on the box in second (place) last weekend after having such a bad gate pick and not getting a good start in the main. I just put my head down and focused on passing riders one-by-one and tried to get by as many people as I could by the race’s end. I rode solid but by the time I got into second place Villopoto had pulled way too big a lead for me to be able to catch up. I’m definitely hungry for another win so from here on out my focus is to be consistent and be up front from the get go so I can battle for the win.”
James Stewart “This season has been a crazy one. It feels like small things keep adding up at the worst times. Last week in Arlington we made a few steps in the right direction. But in the race we couldn’t utilize that.Ã‚Â So we’re still working, but the best part about it is that we’re on the East Coast and I’ve been waiting for that!Ã‚Â The dirt is more familiar and consistent. It’s going be exciting to see what happens the next couple of races.”
Jake Weimer “Finishing on the podium is awesome. After getting block passed the last few races, I came to Arlington ready to stand my ground. I felt like I did a good job of holding off (Ryan) Dungey, although ultimately I lost the fight; it was because I was stuck in second gear the last lap of the race after contact broke off my shifter lever. I did my best to put up a good fight, so I felt good about that. I really felt like I should have got second, but that’s how racing goes. I’ll be looking to do it again in Atlanta.”
Kevin Windham “The GEICO Honda was running incredible and things were going great almost all day. I don’t know what happened, but with three to four laps to go, I made some major mistakes causing me to get passed a few times. I don’t want to dwell on it too much since the majority of the day went well but I just need to focus on finishing the last five laps strong. I’m excited for Atlanta which will be my 200th start and am hoping to turn things around and make it on the podium.”
Justin Barcia “The night started okay – I got a bad start in the heat race but was still able to take the win. I turned it around in the main, got a pretty good start and made some strong passes. I ended up getting the lead and was able to pull a nice gap. This is a great way to start off the season and I am excited to head to Atlanta.”
Darryn Durham “Arlington felt amazing. That was my first supercross podium ever. Being a part of Monster Energy/Pro Circuit/Kawasaki is awesome. I couldn’t have done it without the team; they all have been working hard to get me to this level. I’m pretty stoked on my new Kawasaki, I ripped the holeshot and felt solid on it all night. I am going to work on getting faster in the whoops and try to take it home next week at the Georgia Dome.”
Ken Roczen “Dallas was a lot of fun and I’m happy I started my season off with a podium result. After not riding for several months because I broke my wrist, and only getting back on my bike two weeks ago, I think I did good getting third. I know I have the speed to win so I will be giving it everything I got in Atlanta this weekend.”
Blake Baggett “Arlington didn’t go how I wanted. I had high hopes going into the first race of the championship, so I’m pretty disappointed with my performance. I got a good start in the main and came around the first turn behind Darryn (Durham), but went down in a rhythm section and that was it. I tried to fight my way back, but I lost a lap and just couldn’t push it on that track. I will definitely be working hard to get on the podium at the Georgia Dome.”
Blake Wharton “It was an interesting night. 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 race is an opportunity, and I just have to keep pushing for it. I think I’ll be there in the end.”
SPEED will broadcast Monster Energy Supercross from Atlanta LIVE at 7:30pm EST on February 25, 2012.