Week ten of the Monster Energy AMA Supercross series heads indoors for round number ten to the controlled climate of Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis, Indiana. The gate dropped on the inaugural Indianapolis SX Main Event back in 1992 and was dominated by Jeff Stanton aboard his factory Honda. This Saturday will mark the twentieth time the best SX racers on the planet have met in the Racing Capital, but only the third time in the beautiful Lucas Oil Stadium. Over the previous nineteen years, Indy has yet to be won by a first-time winner, so don’t expect anybody outside of the top five to win Saturday’s race.
James Stewart showed the world what he is made of at the Daytona SX. Photo by Hoppenworld.
Last week’s race at Daytona International Speedway was won by Monster Energy/Kawasaki rider Ryan Villopoto after San Manuel/Yamaha pilot James Stewart had the get-off of the year. As most of you know by now, when JS7 crashes he can do it in spectacular fashion, and last Saturday was no exception. James was off to an early ten-second lead over RV2 and was walking away from him–using a jump that only he was doing to make time–when a huge mistake in sent him over the bars, staggering to his bike and a minute behind nineteenth place before he re-mounted. JS7, from there, would put his dazed head down and charge for the remaining laps, all the way back up to ninth position. He would bank twelve crucial points, but find himself some twenty-three points behind RV2 coming into Indy this week.
With Villopoto now twenty-three points ahead of JS7 and twenty-four ahead of the TwoTwo Motorsports/Bel-Ray rider Chad Reed, will his game plan change at all heading into the last eight rounds of the season? I would hope not. Villopoto has been fast and intelligent about his racing all year, and for his sake, I seriously hope he doesn’t try to go into points-protection mode just yet. The man they call RV2 has been the most consistent of the top five all year and needs to keep doing what he’s been doing, or he could quickly see that twenty-three point lead melt. With four or five guys capable of beating him on any given night, it would be no surprise to see nine-point swings at any round. If that were to happen twice, he is right back to where he started before his lucky streak—as some are calling it—began in Atlanta.
RV2 enters the second half of the 2011 SX championship campaign with a 23 point lead and a two race win streak. Photo by Brian Robinette.
In Daytona, CR22 said he didn’t find his rhythm until late in the 30-minute Main Event, and with the speed he found at the end, that may have cost him the round nine win. Reedy has struggled to get going early in races before, but if he can find the early race pace he brought to Atlanta, he could have a nice evening in Indy. The last time Reed won in Indy was in 2009 on the Suzuki, and it was one of those nights–just like in Atlanta–where he had the straight up speed to beat JS7. To get himself closer to RV2 and begin making a legitimate run at this title, he will need to do the same thing again this Saturday night.
Fourth in points, Rockstar/Makita/Suzuki rider Ryan Dungey had a rough go of it in Daytona, and “rough go” has been the theme of Dungey’s 2010 title defense. Ryan, after having a DNF in his heat race, spent the rest of the evening playing catch-up. Having to qualify through the LCQ, he was forced to start on the outside gates for the Main, but after a bad start, worked his way up to his home on the podium. If not for the DNF at Anaheim II, RD1 would easily be sitting second in points right now. As it is, though, he is fourth and thirty-one points out heading into Indy. Although I have said this all season, I seriously think win number one for 2011 could come as soon as this week.
Hart and Huntington’s Ivan Tedesco has struggled so far in 2011, but looks to turn that around in Indy. Photo by Hoppenworld.
We cannot do the week ten preview without talking about the Daytona fourth place finisher, Red Bull/KTM’s Andrew Short. Andrew’s fourth was his best finish of 2011 on the new orange 350 and moved him up to a solid sixth in overall points. At the beginning of the year, there were a lot of very smart SX personalities that said we would not see Short in the top five due to this year’s depth of talent and the fact that he’s on a new bike. Well, every year we hear this sort of talk, and every year Shorty makes them eat their words. This year as in every other throughout his career, Shorty is consistently getting better and is once again knocking on the door to get into the top five in points. Here’s to hoping Short-dog can get on that box before too long.
- Ryan Villopoto 196
- James Stewart 173
- Chad Reed 172
- Ryan Dungey 165
- Trey Canard 154
Can “B.B. King” provide the Indianapolis fans with a repeat performance, and run away and hide from Barcia and the boys for the second straight week? Photo by Brian Robinette.
Along with the 450 Class, the AMA Supercross Lites East Region is coming to town for round four of their series in Indianapolis. The first three rounds of the East Region have produced some spectacular racing with three different winners in only three rounds. In nine rounds of Lites action this year, we have seen seven different winners occupy the top of the box. That is nothing short of amazing, and with the talent lining up in Indy, we could very well see eight different winners before the series makes its way to Jacksonville.
Coming into Indy, Houston SX winner GEICO Powersports/Honda’s Justin Barcia is leading the way in the points. Justin leads the Monster/ProCircuit/Kawasaki duo, Blake Baggett and Dean Wilson, by five and nine points respectively. It was reported in Daytona that Justin has two broken bones in his wrist from a practice crash in Atlanta. Even still, he was able to hold on for a second place finish. Justin is a fighter and should have no problem duking it out in Indy this weekend.
Wilson struggled in Daytona and looks to rebound with a second win on the year in Indy. Photo by Russ Erbe.
Daytona winner and runner-up in the points, Blake “B.B. King” Baggett, brings an incredible amount of confidence with him to Indy this weekend after getting his first win of the year last weekend. This newfound confidence comes from absolutely destroying the field on the most brutal SX track in the world and by some fifteen seconds. If ever a single race could spiral into becoming a springboard for many wins to come, it would be the Daytona SX. Look for “B.B. King” to try to turn one in a row into a win-streak in Indianapolis.
Another man bringing some newfound confidence into Indy is veteran DNA Shred Stix/Star Racing/Yamaha pilot Ryan Sipes. Ryan has had the speed to win all year and even qualified number one in each of the first two rounds. In SX, knowing you have the speed is half the battle. The other half is knowing you have it for a full Main Event. Ryan spent the whole off-season working his butt off with his trainer, Steve Hatch, so he knew he had the fitness and just needed to get it done. To use a popular phrase from Sipes’ home state of Kentucky, he “got ‘er done” in Daytona with his first podium appearance of the year. I would be surprised if there’s anyone in this class that wants it more than Mr. Sipes, so keep your eyes on the number 25.
Ryan Sipes took his first step towards winning in 2011 with a solid 15 lap performance for his first podium in Daytona. Will the Indy SX be the veteran’s night? Photo by Brian Robinette.
The Atlanta SX winner, Dean Wilson, had a night he would prefer to forget in Daytona last week. Heading into Indy the theme of the Wilson crew was most likely “act like last week didn’t happen.” Deano got off to a start just inside the top ten last week, and while trying to come through the pack, had one problem after another lead to one mistake after another. At the end of the day, he got it together but, by then, was too far back to salvage a good position and brought her home in eighth. Dean, though, is now only nine points down and has the skills to be in the title hunt until the end.
- Justin Barcia 69
- Blake Baggett 65
- Dean Wilson 60
- Ryan Sipes 54
- Blake Wharton 51
See you at the races!
Follow @dandunes818 and @MXAddicts_com for live race tweets this Saturday and for SX/MX news throughout the week. Check out RacerX’s Animated Track Map and a Supercross.com interview with Marvin Musquin below.
Animated Track Map: Staring “the fastest animated arrow on the planet,” RacerX arrow!
Also, check out this cool video interview Supercross.com put together with injured factory KTM star Marvin Musquin. This guy is going to have no problem making fans while in the USA.