Ryan Villopoto is simply padding his stats and collecting win bonuses at this point. He stands seventh on the all-time Supercross win list. Sweeping the rest of the season will tie Bob Hannah at 27 wins.
Monster Energy Kawasaki’s Ryan Villopoto secured his ninth win of the season after dominating in New Orleans, and now returns to his home state of Washington as AMA Monster Energy Supercross heads to Seattle’s CenturyLink Field. This 15th stop of the 2012 season also brings Villopoto back to where he won the first SX race of his career in 2009. Since then, Villopoto has become the first rider in history to clinch the championship with four races remaining on schedule. Apart from witnessing other records crumble under his Kawasaki’s tires, the real question moving forward is “who will secure second?”
In New Orleans, Jeff Ward Racing Kawasaki’s Josh Grant came out of relative points obscurity to finish second, owing largely to a good start out of the gate which allowed him to hold position for the entire race. New Orleans was Grant’s best finish since his 2009 win at the Anaheim 1 opener and is the first podium for the new Jeff Ward Racing team. Regardless of anomalies though, the points battle for second in the championship remains between JGRMX Yamaha rider Davi Millsaps and Muscle Milk Honda’s Justin Brayton. Millsaps’ teammate, James Stewart, is out with a reported broken hand and has not announced when he will return to racing.
Millsaps (top) and Brayton (above) are duking it out over second place in the championship standings.
Millsaps slipped a bit in New Orleans, taking sixth and allowing his Honda rival to come within five points of second overall. Brayton lucked out when MotoConcepts Suzuki’s Mike Alessi made contact in with a lapped rider near the end of the New Orleans race and crashed. This put the Honda rider in third and he was able to hold the spot comfortably, finishing more than six seconds ahead of Yoshimura Suzuki rider Brett Metcalfe.
The factory Suzuki pilot is in position to be a contender for a top-three finish in the series if he can out ride Millsaps and Brayton in Seattle. If Monster Energy Kawasaki rider Jake Weimer can avoid jumping off the track, he will also be one to watch, sitting only one point shy of Metcalfe’s sixth-place standing.
Brayton showed his skill at coming back from a lackluster start in New Orleans, as well as L&M Honda rider Andrew Short. Alessi also proved he’s no slouch last round and could disrupt the contentious battle between Millsaps and Brayton if he can figure out how to hold it together for a full 20 laps. With so many top-tier riders out with injuries, and so many others showing heart in the final rounds of the 2012 season, it’s anyone’s guess who will score a podium interview in Seattle.
Western Region Supercross Lites racers finally get back into the action in Seattle. These 250 riders haven’t raced since San Diego on February 11. The battle rages between Monster Pro Circuit Kawasaki’s Dean Wilson and Geico Honda’s Eli Tomac. The last time this duo squared off in SD it resulted in Tomac crashing and breaking his elbow while Wilson took the win. Despite leading 40 laps this season compared to Wilson’s 30 laps, the major disaster in Qualcomm Stadium allowed the Kawasaki pilot a two-point advantage. Tomac has been stewing on that for the past couple months and now that his teammate Justin Barcia has claimed the Eastern title, he’s going to be ramped up in the Northwest.
Troy Lee Designs Honda rider Cole Seely entered the break period on the high notes of back-to-back runner-up finishes. He also had the opportunity to stay in the racing regimen by jumping aboard Trey Canard’s vacant factory Muscle Milk Honda CRF450R. He was able to run with the likes of Ryan Dungey, Villopoto and James Stewart courtesy of a holeshot and eventually scored sixth at Atlanta. The replacement rider then netted a top-five result at Indianapolis. There was some tough luck mixed in with the 450 success, but he has to have come away from the break with some added confidence. He’s ridden the pace of higher caliber riders and also stayed in the racing mode while other West Coast Lites contenders were stuck at the practice track. Seely is only 15 points out of the championship lead, a manageable deficit with two rounds remaining.
Marvin Musquin is another 250 racer who opted to step into the Supercross class during the down time. The Frenchman didn’t have the same level of success that Seely did, but he’ll be back on his familiar Red Bull KTM 250 SX-F after muscling around the larger 350 machine.
The races will broadcast live on SPEED starting at 7:30 p.m. PST.