In what was one of the best battles all night, Paul Carpenter made this pass on Eric Sorby to qualify for the main event.
East and West Lites riders were kept separate until the LCQ by running heat qualifiers within their respective divisions, but the big dogs wouldn’t meet until the main event. Ryan Villopoto started things off by demonstrating why he’s the best in the West with an absolute killing of the field. Yamaha’s Josh Hill put a hard pass on Sobe NoFear/Samsung/Honda’s Josh Grant which sent the CRF rider to the ground for the first for the night’s first casualty.
Darcy Lange tied for fastest lap in the East Heat race while his teammate Ben Townley pulled out the win, but Matt Goerke was close enough to ensure that any mistakes by the Atlantic champion would cost him dearly. Monster/Pro Circuit/Kawasaki’s Townley had a slight advantage in the timed practice sessions, but Villopoto’s best lap in the West heat was nearly a full second faster than his teammate/rival. Kelly Smith missed the shootout main event by one position in the mixed LCQ, but took home the Asterisk Mobile Medic card which he gave to his longtime friend and hardworking mechanic, Scott Budzynski.
The Supercross LCQ was red-flagged after several riders wheelied over the starting gate. It was a bit unfortunate as the 40,000+ fans were showing their appreciation for a hellish three-way battle between Ivan Tedesco, Tyler Evans and Paul Carpenter. Not to worry, Carpenter and Eric Sorby picked it right back up with an even better scrap that made another casualty out of Gibson and culminated in Carpenter besting the multi-pass performance. Losing a few bike lengths on the final lap, Sorby tossed out a one-handed nac-nac over the triple to let everyone know he enjoyed it as much as the rest of us. His $750 Racer X Gas Card wasn’t quite what he busted ass for, but a nice consolation for a long night in Sin City.
Ben Townley took the holeshot at the end of the season’s longest start straight, an 838-ft grass launch, but Dungey launched into the lead. The excitement lasted all of about 67 seconds before Villopoto pulled off with bike problems and Townley made it about a half-lap further before his chain popped off. With both champions out of contention, the battle was between Dungey and Hill. Townley tried valiantly by picking his chain out of the Las Vegas dirt and putting it on his bike by hand but was forced to retire nonetheless rather than risk losing it again in a dangerous situation.
Hill moved inside and pushed Dungey off the track in the battle for first, but the move sent the factory YZ250F to the ground and stalled, ultimately leading to another high-profile DNF. The Makita Suzuki rider was able to keep it on two wheels and regroup without losing a position while Sobe NoFear/Samsung/Honda’s Jake Weimer took over second and gave chase with Branden Jesseman in tow. Jesseman would fall off the pace as Red Bull KTM rider Martin Davalos, who was disqualified last weekend for fighting, pulled by and took over third.
“Hard work pays off,” said Dungey. “Just last year, before I turned pro, I was watching this race from the stands. I have come a long way in a year, and I am so pumped to be up on the podium. I owe this to my team and family, who have supported me all year. This was a great crowd; I could hear them every lap screaming and cheering.”
It was stereotypical Las Vegas at the end of the night. All the hype of the East/West shootout, one that could have been the best in years, ultimately saw the big names fall out of contention. Both regional champions finished outside the top-20 – hey, nobody really wins big in Vegas, do they? Ask Ryan Dungey.
1. Ryan Dungey, Suz
2. Jake Weimer, Hon
3. Martin Davalos, KTM
4. Jason Lawrence, Yam
5. Tommy Hahn, Hon
6. Josh Grant, Hon
7. Chris Gosselaar, Kaw
8. Ryan Morais, Yam
9. Darcy Lange, Kaw
10. Justin Brayton, Yam
James Stewart pulled a holeshot to start the main with Chad Reed on his tail and Tim Ferry in third – sound familiar? Kevin Windham didn’t waste any time to move by Red Dog and proceeded to ride like the K-Dub we love to watch. A brief scuffle between Tedesco and Ferry broke out, but the fistfight in the stands lasted longer as the two factory riders separated before any positions were changed.
Factory Honda’s Andrew Short rode solidly in sixth and his teammate, Davi Millsaps was moving quickly through the pack before taking a scary header in the whoops and laying motionless for nearly three laps. He would walk off under his own power. Short was able to inherit fifth when Ferry stalled his motor on Lap 10, the same circuit that Stewart started lapping riders.
Fortunately, Windham was able to pull within a second of Reed and eventually swap positions on Lap 12. Windham, who traditionally does well in Vegas, was definitely the crowd favorite as he used his speed through the whoops to make time. A few back markers on Lap 15, one of which was veteran Kyle Lewis in his final career SX race, gave Reed just enough space to pull out a two-second gap and eventually take the runner-up spot with ease.
“Vegas has always been good to me and I love this town and I love this race,” said K-Dub from the final podium spot.
Lucky Number 7 would take consecutive win Number 7 as he heel-clicked his way to a Cinco de Mayo fireworks celebration that served to kick off an industry-wide party that has been 18 weeks in the making.
“I had a perfect 20 laps out there, no mistakes,” Stewart said. I’m excited for the outdoor season and next year too.” In an attempt at humility he added, “I can be beat, but hopefully not anytime soon.”
Don’t sweat it, Stew.
1. James Stewart, Kaw
2. Chad Reed, Yam
3. Kevin Windham, Hon
4. Ivan Tedesco, Suz
5. Andrew Short, Hon
6. Tim Ferry, Kaw
7. David Vuillemin, Hon
8. Josh Summey, Hon
9. Heath Voss, Hon
10. Michael Byrne, Suz
2007 AMA Supercross Overall Standings:
1. Stewart, 385
2. Reed, 334
3. Ferry, 276
4. Windham, 240
5. Tedesco, 197
2007 FIM World Supercross GP Overall Standings:
1. Stewart, 404
2. Reed, 364
3. Ferry 302
4. Vuillemin, 240
5. Byrne, 211