Indy Pre-Race Notes:
This Week in Monster Energy Supercross: Indianapolis
This Week in Monster Energy Supercross: Indianapolis
AURORA, Ill. (March 16, 2012) – Following a wild past week in which one of the Supercross Class’ top contenders Ryan Dungey stepped away from competition due to injury, in addition to a intriguing race at the previous stop on the schedule, the 2012 Monster Energy AMA Supercross, an FIM World Championship, season returns indoors tomorrow from Indianapolis’ Lucas Oil Stadium, site of the 11th race of the year.
Following his second win of the season in Daytona, Toyota/Yamaha/JGRMX’s James Stewart brings the momentum to Indianapolis as he aims to continue to chip away at the points lead of Monster Energy Kawasaki’s Ryan Villopoto, the reigning Monster Energy Supercross Champion.
Stewart and his JGRMX team have turned things around in recent weeks, following a slow start to the season. While his results so far in the second half of the championship haven’t been an indicator of how well Stewart is riding as of late, his win in Daytona was significant towards improving the team’s consistency and making a run towards the 2012 title. To cap off a near-perfect night for Joe Gibbs Racing, Davi Millsaps followed Stewart across the finish to give the team its first 1-2 finish ever.
“Well, we needed that win in Daytona bad and to get it feels great,” said Stewart. “I mean, I feel like we now have a chance to focus more on the races as they come. We have a big points gap, so there’s no real pressure on that. Actually, we’ve really got nothing to lose at this point.”
“We just get to keep working and try to simply win these races, as we’ve been doing the last few weeks. It feels like we found a good direction with the bike, myself and the team. So, we’re just eager to get out there and see where it goes from here.”
While Stewart gained nine points on Villopoto in the Supercross Class standings, the defending champion was able to walk away from Daytona with his head held high following an impressive outing in touch conditions that saw him climb from 17th to fifth. With 44 points in his favor, Villopoto returns to the site of arguably his most dominant performance of his championship-winning 2011 season. He has won the past two years inside Lucas Oil Stadium and is looking for more good fortune tomorrow night.
“I’m anxious to get to Indy,” said Villopoto. “I made a few mistakes last weekend, but the conditions weren’t the greatest. The dirt is usually really good in Indy, so I hope to put my Kawasaki back on top with another win.”
Fellow Monster Energy Kawasaki rider Jake Weimer also rode well in Daytona. While he was a factor within the top five for most of the main event, a late fall cost Weimer a couple spots in the finishing order. Nevertheless, Weimer is now in position to battle for the final spot on the championship podium in 2012 and will look to potentially grab another podium finish on Saturday.
“After a few weekends that haven’t been very good, I need to get back to where I belong,” said Weimer. “I’m still staying positive and know that I’m riding better than my results show. Indy should be a fun race and I’m looking to get back up on the podium.”
GEICO Honda’s Kevin Windham made his first trip to the Supercross Class podium in Daytona, taking advantage of the wet conditions on which he excels to challenge at the front of the field. Windham hopes the effort is a sign of things to come, as he currently sits in good position to make a strong move upward in the championship standings.
“I have been working really hard to get up on the podium this season and I was excited to finally get there at such a special race,” said Windham. “The track was tough, but I was in my element, so I just made sure to stay consistent and not make any mistakes. The GEICO Honda was running awesome so I am ready to keep this momentum going into the rest of the season.”
For the Team Honda Muscle Milk duo of Justin Brayton and Cole Seely, Daytona was a night both riders would like to forget and move on from. Each red rider suffered from his own bout of misfortune in the touch conditions, which ultimately relegated them outside the top 10 as the checkered flag flew. Brayton posted a 16th-place effort, while Seely followed right behind him in 17th. The entire American Honda team is looking to bounce back with the return indoors this weekend.
Yoshimura Suzuki’s Brett Metcalfe typically excels when weather is a factor, but the increasingly difficult conditions ultimately forced Metcalfe to become one of the many casualties who fell at some point during the main event. Despite the hard luck, Metcalfe battled through the adversity to bring his Suzuki to the finish and post a 10th-place result. With Daytona behind them, Metcalfe and his team are looking to return to challenging at the front of the field in Indy, potentially generating Metcalfe first podium result of the season.
“I just wanted to go back home and forget about the mud race, where you can’t really learn or take anything from it,” said Metcalfe. “We’ll just have a regular week at home and get ready for Indy this weekend. I’m looking forward to getting back to good racing and getting up there in the results.”
With the recent departure of Dungey as a result of injury, Marvin Musquin has stepped up as the primary rider in the Supercross Class for Red Bull KTM. The French rider was a fixture at the front of the field in the wet conditions at Daytona, challenging for a podium for most of the main event. Ultimately, Musquin settled for fourth, giving the KTM 350 SX-F its best finish ever in Monster Energy Supercross.
“I’m so happy about finishing fourth last weekend at Daytona,” said Musquin. “I love riding the 350 and I still think it has loads of potential in the 450 class. It was definitely a wet and muddy race, but I still had fun. I’m excited to ride the 350 again this week at Indy.”
Monster Energy/Pro Circuit/Kawasaki’s Broc Tickle had one of his best performances of the season last week, with an eighth place finish. Riding much of the race in the top-five, Tickle is excited to build off the performance and hopefully ride a full 20 laps in the top five at Lucas Oil Stadium.
“I’m excited for Indy,” said Tickle. “I got my first top five in the(Supercross) Lites Class in Indy, so hopefully I can get my first Supercross (Class) top five as well. I know I have the speed to be there, I just need everything to come together.”
In the Eastern Regional Supercross Lites Championship, reigning Eastern Regional Champion Justin Barcia continued his perfect run to start the season, moving to 4-0 aboard his GEICO Honda. Daytona was undoubtedly the most challenging race of the season for Barcia, but he responded with yet another impressive effort as he looks to claim back-to-back titles.
“To win at Daytona was an incredible feeling,” said Barcia. “I really had to work hard for that win and the track was very demanding. That is going to be the toughest race of the season and I am definitely exited to hopefully come out on top again in Indy.”
Barcia’s GEICO Honda teammate Justin Bogle didn’t have the race he was hoping for in his first Dayton outing. The muddy conditions created significant challenges for both the riders and the bikes, with Bogle’s bike coming out on the worse end of the equation, getting stuck in the mud early in the race. The rookie was forced to record a DNF, and will be eager to bounce back tomorrow night.
Monster Energy/Pro Circuit/Kawasaki’s Blake Baggett finally found his way to the front of the field in Daytona, following an unusually slow start to the season. Baggett dominated his heat race and was undoubtedly the fastest rider in the main event, but an early fall hindered his chances to make a challenge for the lead on Barcia. Nevertheless, his runner-up effort is Baggett’s best of the season and now he knows he has the speed to challenge up front and potentially bring an end to Barcia’s dominance.
“I’m starting to ride like myself,” said Baggett. “I challenged Barcia for the win last weekend, which is what I should have been doing all season. I’m feeling confident going to Indy.”
Fellow Monster Energy/Pro Circuit/Kawasaki rider Darryn Durham was also impressive in Daytona, putting together a stellar come-from-behind effort to grab his second podium finish of the season in third. Durham endured the conditions to make his move from a seventh-place start and give him a boost of both confidence and momentum coming into Indy tomorrow.
“I’m looking forward to this weekend in Indy,” said Durham. “A lot of my friends and family are going, which is always great to have (some) added support. (It) should be fun.”
Many thought Red Bull KTM’s Ken Roczen would be a factor in determining a winner at Daytona, given the assumption that his European experience makes him a better mud rider than most. However, Roczen was unable to get the start he needed to challenge at the front of the field, and he, like many, focused on trying to ride as consistent as possible and come away from Daytona with a solid effort.
“I’m not really happy with the way I’ve raced so far this season,” said Roczen. “I expect a lot more from myself than finishing in third and fourth place, so its time to turn my season around. My starts have been terrible, which puts me in a tough spot from the get-go. Barcia gets good starts and is able to ride his own race out front, whereas I exert a lot of energy just trying to get around slower guys that happen to get a better starts than me. Its time I put myself in winning contention right out of the gate.”
Rockstar Energy Racing Suzuki’s Blake Wharton continues to turn in notable performances. Despite the soaking-wet conditions in Daytona, Wharton was unfazed. He was second in his heat race and rode a smart main event to bring home a fifth-place finish. He’ll be looking to challenge for a win tomorrow night.
“Daytona was interesting because it’s more like a motocross track,” said Wharton. “I felt really good, but it was muddy and conditions were pretty harsh. In the main, I basically got the holeshot and was up there in third and riding pretty good, but conditions were affecting the bike. I felt like I did some things good, but overall it’s not where I wanted to be. I like Indy, and it’ll be nice to be back on a Supercross track and racing indoors, so I’m looking forward to it.”
Star/Valli Yamaha’s Kyle Cunningham lifted his game in the swamp-like conditions that made up the Daytona track. After going down hard in practice, Cunningham crashed again in his heat race and had to go to the LCQ. Taking the win there, Cunningham turned in a smooth performance in the main event, which resulted in a solid seventh-place finish.
“Daytona was a little rough,” said Cunningham. “In the main, I got a decent start, but going into the corner, I got splashed with quite a bit of mud and I could barely see. But, I rode pretty good, and actually finished seventh. Now I’m really looking forward to Indy this week. The bike is working good and the team is doing great, so I’m just pumped to get back out and race on a dry track and see what we can do this weekend.”
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