2011 AMA Supercross Houston Preview

February 10, 2011
Matt Davidson
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Danger, adrenaline and competition are what fuel this moto enthusiast. Driven by a spirit for sportsmanship, our racing guru here at MotoUSA can be spotted at finish lines the world over as he delivers the latest battles from the two-wheeled realm.

James Stewart made the main look easy after grabbing the holeshot and leading all 20 laps.
James Stewart heads to Houston with back-to-back wins.

The Monster Energy AMA Supercross Championship witnessed its first blowout of the 2011 season at the previous Anaheim 2 round in Southern California. San Manuel Yamaha’s James Stewart led a complete assault on the premier class, scoring knockouts on Monster Energy Kawasaki’s Ryan Villopoto and TwoTwo Motorsports’ Chad Reed for his third victory of the year. The series now embarks for Houston’s Reliant Stadium for the sixth round of the season, a venue which Villopoto conquered in 2010. However, RV will have much more to contend with this year as JS7 enters the Lone Star state with back-to-back wins. The state of Texas will also usher in the opening round of the East Coast Lites division as West Coast riders receive a short break before re-appearing in San Diego, California for Round 7.
At Angels Stadium Stewart struck a deep blow to the field by snaring his second holeshot and maintaining a four-second lead throughout all 20 laps of the main. Not only was Stewart fastest out of the gates, the 25-year-old also outperformed his competitors on the highly-technical Anaheim circuit. By utilizing multiple quad jumps throughout the track Stewart stayed one step ahead of his rivals the entire night and added a few more points to his lead over Villopoto in the championship. 

RV was quickly outpaced by James Stewart despite getting a great start at A2.
Ryan Villopoto: “…there is still a lot of racing left in the season. I just need to stay close and be there at the end.”

“The track [Anaheim] was tough and I think the skills really came into play,” said Stewart. “I just rode 20 good laps, I’m feeling comfortable on the motorcycle and the good part about it is we haven’t changed anything on it since Anaheim 1.”

Contrasting the tremendous success Stewart experienced at Anaheim is Rockstar Makita Suzuki’s Ryan Dungey. The defending Supercross champion started the race mid-pack and was quickly cutting through the field when a broken chain prematurely ended his evening. By acquiring his first DNF of the season Dungey lost third place in the overall standings and now resides in fifth, 38 points behind Stewart.
“Well, obviously the main event didn’t go our way tonight,” said Dungey. “I don’t know the last time we’ve had a DNF, which is pretty amazing in itself. This is a tough one and I’ll take the weekend to blow off some steam for sure because we aren’t going to quit and we aren’t going to let this keep us down. The goals are still the same. We will be there at Houston.”
Even though RV couldn’t manage a pass on Stewart at Anaheim, he still racked-up another podium finish to make it four top-three finishes in just five events. After fighting for a good start behind Stewart, RV had a minor slip-up which cost him precious time. Despite this he still finished more

TwoTwo Motorsports Chad Reed was passed by KTMs Mike Alessi early on  but fought back to take a podium finish at A2.
Chad Reed advanced from fifth in the championship up to third and is optimistic about the rest of his season.

than 12 seconds ahead of Reed and now lurks just five points behind the series’ leader.
“I know it wasn’t my best race, but there is still a lot of racing left in the season,” said Villopoto. “I just need to stay close and be there at the end.”
Once again Reed posted a solid ride in third at Anaheim to finish on the podium for the second time this season. So far his consistency in the series has paid major dividends and his performance last weekend saw him advance him from fifth to third in the championship.
“It was nice to get out in front seeing where guys are strong and where I need to work,” said Reed. “I feel I gained a lot of comfort racing tonight and feel we, as a team, gained some necessary improvement. Everything at this level helps, and we took a leap forward with knowing where I need to be stronger.”

Hondas Trey Canard achieved a poor start in the main but eventually finished fifth.
Trey Canard has been having a strong rookie season in the premier class with four top-five finishes so far in 2011.

Meanwhile American Honda’s Trey Canard has continued to succeed during his rookie season in the premier class. Canard finished fifth at A2 and has managed top-five finishes in every round so far in 2011 except Oakland. Making Canard’s finish last weekend all the more impressive is the fact that the Factory Honda rider had a difficult start outside the top-10. Regardless, Canard turned his sour start into a success by staying focused and on the gas.

“I’m really itching to get back on the podium because I know that’s where the team deserves to be,” said Canard. “But with every race I learn a little something more about supercross racing and I know all the pieces will come together very shortly.”
Perhaps the biggest storyline for the upcoming Houston race is the debut of the East Coast Lites riders. A line-up of fresh and talented racers will grace the gates of Reliant Stadium, including James Stewart’s younger brother, Malcolm Stewart, who will debut in the Lites class for Team Suzuki City. Heading up the efforts for Mitch Payton’s Monster Energy Pro Circuit Kawasaki squad is Dean Wilson and Blake Baggett. Wilson has been touted as one of the strongest riders in the Lites class for this season. Immigration problems limited the Scotsman’s involvement during the 2010 season, but Wilson returns healthy and cleared to cross U.S. borders in 2011.

Dean Wilson - Pro Circuit Kawasaki
Kawasaki’s Dean Wilson (above) and Suzuki’s Malcolm Stewart are just a few of the East Coast riders who will grace the gates at Houston’s Reliant Stadium.

The Geico Powersports crew of Justin Barcia and Blake Wharton will headline Honda’s efforts on the East Coast. With numerous victories in 2010, Barcia is incredibly capable of winning the title if the “Wild Child” can keep the rubber side down. Other notable teams and riders include DNA Shed Stix/Star Racing Yamaha’s Ryan Sipes, who was in the mix for nearly every win during the ’10 season, and Red Bull KTM’s Marvin Musquin, who will debut in AMA Supercross after winning two MX2 World Championships abroad.
Round 6 of the 2011 AMA Supercross Championship will begin at 7:00 p.m. on Saturday, February 12 with CBS broadcasting the event at 12:00 p.m. Eastern the following day.
Don’t forget to make your Fantasy Supercross Picks!