Photo: Hoppenworld – KTM Images

The 2012 Monster Energy AMA Supercross, an FIM World Championship, heads to the famed Daytona International Speedway for round number ten and the Daytona Supercross. The Daytona International Speedway has been letting the best Supercross riders on the planet tear up the infield since 1971 and has been a staple on the AMA Supercross schedule ever since.

Over the years, Daytona has been known as the only motocross-style supercross track and, by far, the most brutal supercross on the schedule. Only the toughest of the tough have been able to lay claim to the Daytona SX crown and that is why motocross greats like Roger Decoster, Marty Tripes, David Bailey, Jeff Stanton, Mike Kiedroski and, of course, Ricky Carmichael have all left their marks on the famed infield of Daytona with wins. Of the current greats in the Supercross Class, there are three riders who have been man enough to win the Daytona SX. Joe Gibbs Racing/Yamaha’s James Stewart, GEICO Powersports/Honda’s Kevin Windham and the winner the last two years, Monster Energy/Kawasaki’s Ryan Villopoto, have all been able to suffer through 20 laps on the Daytona SX and come out victorious.

Ricky Carmichael designed Daytona SX track map - Click to enlarge

For the fifth straight year, “The G.O.A.T.” Ricky Carmichael will put his personal touch on Daytona by designing the famed circuit, so mastering the track will be no easy feat. To win in Daytona, riders need to do more than just be the best of the best at SX. The sandy Daytona soil brings a huge element of outdoor motocross to the table. Lap times, in the past, have run well over a minute, making the race much longer than a normal SX, but with live TV time restrictions, the powers that be have focused on keeping lap times down near the 1 minute mark. Either way, the sandy Florida soil creates more ruts, whoops, breaking bumps and square edge kickers than any mortal man would want to face while flying 80 feet over a big triple. Whoever wins this week will definitely be a man’s man, earning the hard fought right to call himself a Daytona SX winner.

The man leading the way into the 2012 version of the Daytona Supercross is Ryan Villopoto. RV has now won five of the first nine rounds and has a thirteen-point lead over Red Bull/KTM’s Ryan Dungey. On top of that, RV brings a two-race Daytona SX win streak with him to Daytona International Speedway. RV has always been considered an outdoor motocross specialist—with four outdoor titles to his credit—so if there is one SX on the circuit for which he will always be on top of the lists of favorites, this is it. The 2011 Supercross Champion is fit, focused and, after winning four out of the last five Main Events, is as dominant as he has ever been. Look for the defending champ to try and continue his winning ways this Saturday night.


That is the look of a man that knows he has a job to do and the confidence to get it done. Photo Chad DeRosa

The biggest worry for RV, if he has any at all, is the man closest to him in the Championship points: Ryan Dungey. Over the first seven rounds of the series, Dungey looked well off the pace of Villopoto, but since his win in Atlanta two weeks ago, it appears the #5 has begun to close the gap. While it may appear that Dungey is getting closer, we still question if the 2010 Supercross Champion has what it takes to beat RV straight up. So far his two wins have come with starting well in front of the #1, and it is possible that his ability to close the gap last week in the St. Louis Main Event was simply due to RV riding conservatively with a big lead. For fans to begin to get excited about a possible bar-to-bar battle down to Vegas, we are going to need to see Dungey take it to Villopoto straight up.

We cannot remember the last time that a rider who was fifty-three points out of the Championship lead was considered among the favorites to win at Daytona, but at the same time, how do you count the former two-time SX Champion James Stewart out? The man is a beast on his home Florida sand. Unfortunately, though, his Daytonas past—with the exception of his 2007 Daytona SX win—have been more about spectacular crashes than about his speed. In reality, that could be said about a good portion of the #7’s career. Either way, we are not prepared to count him out for the win in Daytona. With James being so far out of the points, we think this is the race the Joe Gibbs Racing team and James Stewart alike will want to win above all the rest. Look out for Bubba this Saturday night.

Can Dungey begin to shift the momentum in Daytona? Photo: Hoppenworld - KTM Images

Other riders to look out for this Saturday in Daytona are guys like Muscle Milk/Honda’s Justin Brayton—fresh off his first 2012 podium in St. Louis—Kevin Windham who won Daytona in 2008, Monster Energy/Kawasaki’s Jake Weimer who sits sixth in the points with two podiums, JGR/Yamaha’s Davi Millsaps who has finished as high as second in Daytona, outdoor specialists like Yoshimura/Suzuki’s Brett Metcalfe and MotoConcepts’ Mike Alessi, and the two Lites West riders riding the Supercross Class in Daytona: Red Bull/KTM’s Marvin Musquin and Muscle Milk/Honda’s Cole Seely. While all of them are long shots for a 2012 Daytona SX win, any of them—with a start—could be a major player in the race and a possible podium finisher. With the field thinned out at the top, every one of these guys know that podium bonuses are a real possibility and will be doing everything they can to put some much needed funds in the bank.

On to Daytona.

Marvin Musquin impressed everyone with a top ten in his Supercross Class debut in St. Louis. Can the former two-time MX2 Motocross World Champion improve on that result in Daytona? Photo Hoppenworld - KTM Images
Supercross Class – After 8 Rounds  – 2012 Championship Points
1 1 Ryan Villopoto Seattle, WA, USA 205
2 5 Ryan Dungey Belle Plaine, MN, USA 192
3 7 James Stewart Haines City, FL, USA 152
4 22 Chad Reed Dade City, FL, USA 128
5 14 Kevin Windham Centreville, MS, USA 123
6 21 Jake Weimer Wildomar, ID, USA 120
7 10 Justin Brayton Murrieta, CA, USA 116
8 24 Brett Metcalfe Lake Elsinore, CA, USA 113
9 18 David Millsaps Murrieta, CA, USA 109
10 800 Mike Alessi Hilliard, FL, USA 98
11 100 Joshua Hansen Elbert, CO, USA 87
12 11 Kyle Chisholm Valrico, FL, USA 82
13 25 Broc Tickle Holly, MI, USA 69
14 27 Nicholas Wey Murrieta, MI, USA 66
15 29 Andrew Short Smithville, TX, USA 59
16 81 Robert Kiniry Holland Patent, NY, USA 31
17 83 Kyle Partridge Las Vegas, NV, USA 29
18 87 Matthew Goerke Lake Helen, FL, USA 26
19 54 Weston Peick Wildomar, CA, USA 25
20 9 Ivan Tedesco Murrieta, CA, USA 21
21 34 Cole Seely Murrieta, CA, USA 17
22 41 Trey Canard Shawnee, OK, USA 14
23 333 Cody Mackie Clovis, CA, Australia 14
24 38 Marvin Musquin Murrieta, CA, USA 12
25 82 Justin Sipes Vine Grove, KY, USA 12
26 66 Jason Thomas Melrose, FL, USA 10
27 48 Jimmy Albertson Ozark, MO, USA 10
28 47 Chris Blose Phoenix, AZ, USA 9
29 617 Gavin Faith Fort Dodge, IA, USA 8
30 801 Jeff Alessi Victorville, CA, USA 7
31 65 Ryan Morais Murrieta, CA, USA 6
32 33 Joshua Grant Corona, CA, USA 6
33 32 Thomas Hahn Decatur, TX, USA 4
34 50 Nico Izzi Menifee, CA, USA 3
35 52 Ben Lamay Wasilla, AK, USA 2

Dan Lamb is a 12+ year journalist and the owner of MotoXAddicts.