Buchanan: Round six preview

BUCHANAN, Mich. (July 4, 2008) -- The 4th of July weekend will be full of on-track fireworks as the AMA Toyota Motocross Championship Presented by FMF approaches the halfway point of the 2008 season at the 35th Annual Monster Energy/Kawasaki ...

BUCHANAN, Mich. (July 4, 2008) -- The 4th of July weekend will be full of on-track fireworks as the AMA Toyota Motocross Championship Presented by FMF approaches the halfway point of the 2008 season at the 35th Annual Monster Energy/Kawasaki Motocross National Presented by Scott USA from RedBud on July 5-6.

Last weekend, the series competed in the first-ever AMA Toyota Motocross Championship night race in front of thousands of Mile High faithful at Thunder Valley Motocross Park in Lakewood, Colo. Continuing the season trend, Monster Energy Kawasaki's James Stewart and Monster Energy/Pro Circuit/Kawasaki's Ryan Villopoto garnered the historic overall victories.

After cruising to an easy moto one victory, Stewart overcame a bit of adversity in the final moto, recovering from a less than perfect start to grab the lead and then retain the top spot after a late race fall to bring his 2008 moto record to 10-0. He carries a 51-point lead into RedBud, where he took second overall last season.

"I want it to be tough," said Stewart. "I want it to be rough so we can see how the training has been going. It was cool and smooth in Colorado, so its time for it to get harder. I'm really excited about RedBud, it is one of my favorite tracks and I just want to keep this going."

Teammate Tim Ferry missed out on the podium yet again this week, but has continued to ride strong throughout the 2008 season. Last year in Michigan, he compiled a pair of fourth place moto finishes for fourth overall.

"RedBud is my favorite track," stated Ferry. "I always like going there to race. It has some of the best atmosphere and the crowd is always into the race. I'm riding good right now and its time to get another podium finish."

In the AMA Motocross Lites class, Villopoto continued his recent dominance, but had to overcome some adversity and a new competitor in Geico Powersports Honda's Josh Grant in the second moto in order to grab his fourth overall victory. With a 58-point lead, Villopoto's goal is to simply keep the momentum going.

"The track is good at RedBud," said Villopoto. "I like the track. It should be hot there so it will be more like an outdoor national should be. I just need to keep riding good and keep building my points lead."

Monster Energy/Pro Circuit/Kawasaki teammates Austin Stroupe and Brett Metcalfe both enter RedBud after tough weekends in Colorado. After showing a lot of strength early in each moto, Stroupe suffered race-ending crashes to eliminate him from point contention. Metcalfe raced in survival mode after a hard practice crash set his physical well-being back. But after salvaging a 12th place overall finish and another week of recovery, he will be ready for action in Michigan.

In the Rockstar/Makita Suzuki camp Mike Alessi brought home another runner-up overall finish to go along with his third-consecutive sweep of the Holeshot Award. In the final moto, Alessi opened an early-moto gap and despite being caught by Stewart, rode solid to bring his bike home in second.

"I had a lot of fun racing at Thunder Valley last weekend," explained Alessi. "Though the night race was a little different for me, I am looking forward to getting back to the regular outdoors schedule. Heading into RedBud this weekend, I feel good. RedBud has always been good to me and I look forward to racing. This week, all my training and riding is the same as always."

Fellow AMA Motocross rider Michael Byrne put together a season-best performance in the high altitude, bringing home his Suzuki in fifth overall.

"I've been riding some this week as well as cycling -- just been keeping up with my regular training, trying to be consistent and build on last week's result and get my knee stronger," explained Byrne. "RedBud is a track that I really enjoy. It's one of the best tracks we have all year, but for some reason my results have never been that great there. Hopefully with a new bike in the Rockstar/Makita Suzuki RM-Z450, and a new team, that will change this year."

In the AMA Motocross Lites class, Nico Izzi left Thunder Valley with a career-best third overall finish to go along with a career-best moto finish of second in the opening moto. After strong showings in the last two events, he hopes to maintain his recent swing of momentum.

"Thunder Valley was a really good race for me last weekend, I got my first podium finish and I was pretty pumped about that. This week, I'm just doing my regular training -- some riding and some bicycling and training. I just want to be consistent and so we're sticking with the stuff that has worked for us so far."

Teammate Ryan Dungey had a weekend to forget in Colorado. After a strong third-place finish in the first moto, Dungey found trouble in moto two, crashing on the opening lap and failing to finish the race. Despite the misfortune, he still holds down second place in the standings.

"I'm doing fine and feeling well after my crash on Saturday at Thunder Valley," said Dungey. "I went and got checked out at the hospital after the races and the doctors said other than bruising and soreness that I was fine and healthy. That was great news after that high-speed get off. I plan on riding this week in hopes of returning to RedBud next weekend."

"I want to first congratulate my teammate Nico for getting his first podium on Saturday and to thank Team Rockstar/Makita Suzuki for being behind me through thick and thin. We have a great team and I'm proud to be a part of a great group of hard-working guys. I'm already looking forward to getting back on the track next weekend."

At Red Bull Honda, Davi Millsaps continued his recent run of strong finishes, grabbing his second-straight overall podium finish. A solid fourth-place run in the first moto and a third place in moto two helped Millsaps edge out teammate Andrew Short for the final podium position.

Short was strong all weekend and the competition between he and Millsaps was exciting for all in attendance. While he did not achieve the results he would have hoped for at his home track, he set the tone for a strong run at RedBud where he posted a top five in 2007.

Fellow Honda riders Ben Townley and Ivan Tedesco will forego the RedBud round due to injury.

Grant made his triumphant return to the series in fine fashion. Posting the quickest lap of the day in Friday practice, he backed it up with a solid fourth-place finish in the opening moto, followed by the Holeshot Award in moto two and an outstanding battle with rival Villopoto for the win.

Teammate Trey Canard also returned from injury with stellar results, garnering his best overall finish of the season in fourth. After finishing fifth in moto one with a blazing run through the field, he made things interesting with Grant and Villopoto in the final moto for an outstanding three-way battle.

-credit: ama

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Series AMA
Drivers Josh Grant , Mike Alessi , James Stewart , Ryan Dungey , Ryan Villopoto , Trey Canard , Davi Millsaps , Andrew Short