The 2010 Monster Energy AMA Supercross, an FIM World Championship, returns to where the season opened nearly two week ago at Angel Stadium tomorrow night for the tour’s third stop. In just two races there have been two different winners, James Stewart and Ryan Dungey, and as their intense championship points race heats up, the world’s top riders will be gunning for top billing.
AMA Supercross class rookie Dungey, who rides for Rockstar/Makita/Suzuki, became the 53rd rider in history to win an AMA Supercross class main event with his first-ever win at Chase Field in Phoenix. It was a weekend of firsts for Dungey as he also won the first heat race of his career to qualify for the main event. The win moved the Belle Plaine, Minn. native into the AMA Supercross class points lead over Monster Energy Kawasaki’s Ryan Villopoto, of Poulsbo, Wash., (47-38).
"I'm going to put in a good week of practice this week and work on what we've got to,” said Dungey. “We're going to show up to Anaheim 2 ready. Getting the win in Phoenix was great, to get a win was cool, but Roger DeCoster always tells me 'You're only as good as your last race.' So, I'm going to keep pushing."
Fellow Rockstar/Makita/Suzuki rider Austin Stroupe opened the Phoenix main event by following Dungey through turn one and scored seventh overall as a part-time AMA Supercross racer. Stroupe will contest the Eastern Regional AMA Supercross Lites class, but until then he has his sights on gaining experience and staying inside the top 10.
"For Anaheim 2, I want to maintain my good starts and make the top 10 again,” said Stroupe. “That would be great. I want to stay safe and just put a good 20 laps in and then get ready for the East Coast, where I'll be racing the Eastern Regional AMA Supercross Lites class. I think riding the 450 will help me do well on the 250 later this season."
Monster Energy Kawasaki’s Ryan Villopoto returned to the podium last week with a runner-up finish in Phoenix and is looking to stay on the box as the series returns to Angel Stadium. With weather the dominant topic of conversation, Villopoto, a Pacific Northwest native, knows he can handle any conditions thrown at him.
“I hope it isn’t a mud race,” said Villopoto. “When it is muddy a lot of things change and anything can happen. Mud races are almost always won by the guys who can avoid the most trouble. We have a little momentum heading into A2 and I want to keep us moving up to the top of the box.”
Villopoto’s teammate Chad Reed will not be racing this weekend after he broke his hand in Phoenix. Reed underwent successful surgery on Monday and is looking to return before the end of the supercross season.
Monster Energy/Pro Circuit/Kawasaki rider Jake Weimer is also riding a wave of momentum as he has won the first two events of the AMA Supercross Lites Western Regional Championship. Weimer looks to continue his winning ways in Anaheim where he has won three of the last four Lites class races.
“Angel Stadium is a good place for me,” said Weimer. “Everything is going good for the team right now and our goal is to win the championship. The best way to do that is to keep winning races.”
Weimer’s teammate Josh Hansen had a great day in practice and his heat race but ran into problems early in the main event at Phoenix. Hansen is looking at the positives from the last two weeks to get on the podium at Anaheim.
“I’m riding really well; I just need to avoid some mistakes,” said Hansen. “I need to stay positive and know that everything is going to come together and I’m going to be on the podium. I know I can win a couple of races and that’s what I’m going to try and do.”
DNA Shred Stix/Star Racing/Yamaha’s Broc Tickle scored the best finish of his 2010 AMA Supercross Lites class campaign. After struggling in his heat race in Phoenix and rebounded in the LCQ to transfer to the main where he finished fifth.
“The race last weekend didn’t come easy; I had a great start in my heat race and crashed in the second turn,” said Tickle. “Luckily I got out front in the LCQ, away from everyone, and put my DNA Shred Stix/Star Racing/Yamaha in the main where it supposed to be. In the main event, I made the best of a bad gate pick, started I think just outside the top ten. But I kept my head down and came out 5th.”
Currently fifth overall in Lites class points, Tickle hasn’t met his 2010 goals at the first two races and doesn’t want inclement weather to play a factor in his success.
“The weather looks like it’s going to be a factor for sure at A 2,” said Tickle. “Either way, in the first two races I haven’t finished up to my expectations that I set for this season. I believe I can be on the podium, so I need to get that all important start, and after that I’m confident I have what it takes to put my Yamaha 250F on the box.”
Tickle’s DNA Shred Stix/Star Racing/Yamaha teammate Max Anstie, who is competing in his debut AMA Supercross Lites class season, is still working out the rookie jitters.
“I felt that my preparation before the supercross season went really well, and going into Anaheim 1, it was a really cool feeling to know that I had made it,” said Anstie. “A1 went well and I ended up getting a second in my heat and a ninth in the main. I felt that I had learned a lot and was ready for the next weekend. Unfortunately, Phoenix didn't go so well, but once again I’ve learned and went back to the drawing board. I am doing my homework for A2.”
Optimistic about the threat of Saturday night being a mud race, Anstie says he’s going to ‘play in the mud.’
Honda Red Bull Racing’s Andrew Short finished in fifth last weekend aboard his CRF450R and heads back into Anaheim eager to improve his fifth place standing in the championship despite the forecast of rain.
“I’m in a good spot early on in the series points chase but I really want to finish on the box,” said Short. “Rain is the great equalizer and it throws a wrench in everyone’s plans so my game plan for Anaheim 2 is to adapt to whatever the weather throws at us—keep an open mindset and take it from there. Good things can happen if I put myself in the right place.”
GEICO Powersports Honda’s Blake Wharton showed Phoenix race fans he has what it takes to race out front on his CRF250R in AMA Supercross Lites class competition, and he isn’t letting the prospect of muddy racing conditions this weekend hinder his confidence.
“As long as I’m moving up on the results ladder each week I’m happy,” said Wharton. “At Anaheim 1 I finished in fourth and I went one better in Phoenix and got third. I know I have what it takes to win—I proved that last season in St. Louis—and I led the Phoenix race for 12 of 15 laps. I don’t mind wet weather because I ride and practice in the mud. I’m completely ok with the unpredictability of wet races so we’ll see what happens at Anaheim.”
Wharton’s GEICO Powersports Honda teammate Trey Canard suffered a hard blow to his ankle during his heat race last week, hindering his overall result in the main but he’s back at it on his CRF250R—ready and raring to go.
“At Phoenix I got a decent start in the heat race but someone ran over my foot and I was in a lot of pain so I pulled off,” said Canard “I got checked out and cleared by the medics to race but unfortunately I just didn’t ride to my full potential. I was sore and made some mistakes but salvaged seventh spot. The forecast for this is weekend is wet weather but that doesn’t bother me. I will do the best I can to get a good start and hopefully get clear vision out front.”