Atlanta Supercross Insider

February 23, 2009
Coverage Provided by Vital MX

Supercross First Corner - Atlanta
James Stewart (7) takes the hole shot and shoots in to the lead leaving Chad Reed to fight past other riders to finish second.

Depending on your point of view, Atlanta could be looked at as the middle of the season, or as some people did…as almost the first race all over again. James Stewart (San Manuel / Yamaha / JSE) and Chad Reed (Rockstar Makita Suzuki) were back to even in the point standings…though James was coming into the event with a string of six straight wins, and he’d been busy working to erase a 23-point deficit.

When the gate dropped for the main event, Stewart nailed the start, and led from start to finish. When we joked that James had a rather turbocharged start, he quipped, “I dunno, maybe our fuel is illegal or something.” Then turning more serious, he said, “They held the gate for a long time and people were starting to flinch. I just timed it right, and I was able to get out and kind of controlled it from there. It was definitely a good start on my part, maybe he best all year.”

When asked about his thoughts coming into the start of the East swing, he said, “There was a lot of hype around this race again, because they kind of considered it the first race of the season. I’ve been riding pretty good lately. I wouldn’t say tonight was my best ride, but it was probably my easiest ride I’ve had all year.”

He also noted, “I thought the track was pretty good, but the layout reminds me of somebody that I raced against, and his home track. I thought the track was pretty good. I liked the long whoop section, and I was really good through there all day, and I think that was one of my strongest points.” He also added, “Actually, this is probably not one of my favorite soils, because it’s slippery and tacky at the same time. So it makes it tough.”

So what’s the difference between now and the beginning of the season, when he didn’t look nearly as comfortable? “Just getting comfortable with my motorcycle. I always say winning race helps for sure. But the team definitely came through. I can’t preach that enough. You guys don’t know from Anaheim, to where we are now. I would just say the bike has definitely gotten a lot better and it’s showing on the race track. We’ve still got a ways to go, but if I’m feeling this comfortable and winning races, I can’t imagine fully comfortable.”

Broc Helper - Atlanta
Reed (1) working past Helper (60) and Villopoto (2) to catch up to Stewart.

For Reed, he was definitely disappointed in his result. We asked him what was going through his mind, as he sat on the gate, head down on the handlebars. He told us, “I was ready to go. I’ve really put a lot of effort into my starts lately, and I feel good. I think I showed in that heat race…I killed it, and that felt really good.”

“I was sitting there, and my gate pick was awesome, my gate was perfectly prepped. I got my head down and all of a sudden the gate flinched a little bit. I think Hill hit it. I think I was maybe a little too ready and as soon as that sucker moved I was getting ready to go. I pretty much blew the whole start, but I made really good damage control in the first lap and first turn. I tried to push up the inside, and I think I finished the first lap fifth or sixth.”

Reed’s toughest work of the night was in getting past Broc Hepler (Yamaha Factory Racing), and Ryan Villopoto (Monster Energy Kawasaki), who were both pretty racey. When we suggested that it was a good race, he said, “I wouldn’t call it a good race. I was just following the guy around and there was nothing I could do. I could see that he (Villopoto) was starting to make a lot of mistakes, and he’s riding solid, I just felt I had more in the tank and there wasn’t a whole lot I could do about it. Even when he was behind Hepler, he’d check up a little bit, then I’d have to check up, and it was kind of a snowball thing.”

For his part, Villopoto was happier with the racing, and his third podium of the year. “Yeah, it was definitely good. I followed Hepler for a while and I was able to get him. Then me and Chad had a good battle. I held him off for a while, and made a mistake and he got past me. Then a lapper had just got up and pulled in front of him and I was able to go back around Chad. I definitely learned some stuff. That’s what it’s going to take…learning. These guys have been racing here for a long time, and I’ve got some work to do. That’s what it’s going to take. James is a little step ahead of the whole field right now. I need to work on Chad before I can tackle James.

For the Lites division, we lost one potential title contender during practice, when Brett Metcalfe (Geico Powersports Honda) went down in the long whoop section, breaking a collarbone.

First Corner Lites - Atlanta
After some serious mistakes earlier in the night, Izzi (20) pulled it though in the LCQ and finished second in the Lites event behind Pourcel (981).

As for the racing itself, Austin Stroupe (Monster Energy Pro Circuit Kawasaki) and his teammate, Christophe Pourcel, controlled the top two spots for the first two-thirds of the main, followed by Nico Izzi (Rockstar Makita Suzuki).
Unfortunately for Stroupe, he stalled the bike in the turn following the finish line jump, and lost six spots while trying to re-fire the bike. That allowed Pourcel to take his second straight main event win, and an eight-point lead in the Supercross Lites East series.

While he took the win in both events, Christophe Pourcel was actually more comfortable in Atlanta. “I was good with the bike (in Atlanta). We’d had some bugs at the first race, and that wasn’t really good with the carburetion. But we fixed it and I was really comfortable and really good on the bike.”

As for being behind his teammate his teammate for the bulk of the main he said, “He didn’t give me the race at the beginning. He was pretty fast, and I got my speed after seven or eight laps and I was trying to catch him at the end of the race. But he stopped (stalled) the bike, and that was easier for me.”

The best race in the class, however, went to Martin Davalos (Muscle Milk MDK KTM), and Blake Wharton (Geico Powersports Honda) who were duking it out for the final podium spot behind Pourcel and Izzi. Wharton had charged from eighth spot early in the main to catch and pass Davalos with two laps to go. But Davalos battled back to claim the final spot at the checkers.

Next week’s race will be the first in the new Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis, IN, and we’re looking forward to seeing what the Dirt Wurx crew has built for the riders there.

2009 Monster Energy Supercross
Atlanta, GA

Supercross Lites Heat 1
1. Austin Stroupe
2. Martin Davalos
3. Darryn Durham
4. Vince Friese
5. Fred Karrle
6. Levi Kilbarger
7. Cody Gilmore
8. Blake Wharton
9. Sean Hackley

Supercross Lites Heat 2
1. Christophe Pourcel
2. Matt Lemoine
3. Steven Clarke
4. Wil Hahn
5. Jacob Saylor
6. Branden Jesseman
7. Teddy Parks
8. Tyler Wharton
9. Brad Ripple

Supercross Heat 1
1. Chad Reed
2. Ryan Villopoto
3. Josh Grant
4. Josh Hill
5. Broc Hepler
6. Timmy Ferry
7. Tyler Bowers
8. Tommy Hahn
9. Troy Adams

Supercross Heat 2
1. James Stewart
2. Ivan Tedesco
3. Davi Millsaps
4. Andrew Short
5. Kevin Windham
6. Benjamin Coisy
7. Mike Alessi
8. Matt Boni
9. Kyle Chisholm

Supercross Lites LCQ
1. Nico Izzi
2. Matt Goerke

Supercross LCQ
1. Charles Summey
2. Nick Wey

Supercross Lites Main Event
1. Christophe Pourcel (Kawasaki)
2. Nico Izzi (Suzuki)
3. Martin Davalos (KTM)
4. Blake Wharton (Honda)
5. Branden Jesseman (Kawasaki)
6. Wil Hahn (KTM)
7. Austin Stroupe (Kawasaki)
8. Matt Lemoine (Yamaha)
9. Matt Goerke (Suzuki)
10. Steven Clarke (Suzuki)
11. Tyler Wharton (Honda)
12. Levi Kilbarger (Honda)
13. Brad Ripple (Honda)
14. Jacob Saylor (Yamaha)
15. Vince Friese (Honda)
16. Fred Karrle (Suzuki)
17. Darryn Durham (Yamaha)
18. Sean Hackley (Suzuki)
19. Cody Gilmore (Honda)
20. Teddy Parks (Suzuki)

Supercross Main Event
1. James Stewart (Yamaha)
2. Chad Reed (Suzuki)
3. Ryan Villopoto (Kawasaki)
4. Kevin Windham (Honda)
5. Ivan Tedesco (Honda)
6. Timmy Ferry (Kawasaki)
7. Josh Hill (Yamaha)
8. Davi Millsaps (Honda)
9. Mike Alessi (Suzuki)
10. Matt Boni (Honda)
11. Josh Grant (Yamaha)
12. Kyle Chisholm (Yamaha)
13. Nick Wey (Yamaha)
14. Tommy Hahn (Kawasaki)
15. Troy Adams (Honda)
16. Tyler Bowers (Honda)
17. Benjamin Coisy (Honda)
18. Charles Summey (KTM)

Supercross Lites East Point Standings
1. Christophe Pourcel – 50
2. Nico Izzi – 42
3. Martin Davalos – 34
4. Blake Wharton – 34
5. Austin Stroupe – 32
6. Wil Hahn – 30
7. Branden Jesseman – 25
8. Matt Goerke – 23
9. Brett Metcalfe – 23
10. Steven Clarke – 19

Supercross Point Standings
1. James Stewart – 177
2. Chad Reed – 174
3. Andrew Short – 140
4. Ryan Villopoto – 126
5. Josh Grant – 120
6. Ivan Tedesco – 116
7. Kevin Windham – 111
8. Davi Millsaps – 102
9. Mike Alessi – 93
10. Timmy Ferry – 87

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