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Steel City: Series post-race notes, quotes

DELMONT, Pa. (September 1, 2008) -- The American Motocross Festival brought an exciting end to the 2008 AMA Toyota Motocross Championship Presented by FMF season with some of the most anticipated moments in the sport's history. AMA Motocross ...

DELMONT, Pa. (September 1, 2008) -- The American Motocross Festival brought an exciting end to the 2008 AMA Toyota Motocross Championship Presented by FMF season with some of the most anticipated moments in the sport's history. AMA Motocross Champion, Monster Energy Kawasaki's James Stewart added to the record books, joining Ricky Carmichael as the only other rider to ever complete a perfect season at 24-0 and sweep the Monster Energy/Kawasaki Triple Crown of Motocross.

AMA Motocross Lites Champion, Monster Energy/Pro Circuit/Kawasaki's Ryan Villopoto was looking for a bit of history as well in his bid for the Triple Crown, but suffered one of the worst finishes of his career, allowing Rockstar/Makita Suzuki's Ryan Dungey to take his third overall victory in the last four events.

Star Racing/Division 7 Yamaha's Matt Lemoine grabbed the BTOSports.com Holeshot Award to start things off in the opening moto of AMA Motocross Lites. He was followed by Dungey and GEICO Powersports Honda's Josh Grant. Series points leader Villopoto was buried around 15th or so and had his work cut out for him. Grant quickly slipped by Lemoine in the second turn and started to pull away from the field. Rockstar/Makita Suzuki's Nico Izzi was also up front. He and Dungey both got around Lemoine on lap two, beginning their chase after Grant. Other riders in the top 10 were Monster Energy/Pro Circuit/Kawasaki's Brett Metcalfe, Cart Company/Charlies Cycles Suzuki's Ben Ritter, and GEICO Powersports Honda's Blake Wharton. Villopoto was working his way through the field, passing two and three riders at a time. He went around the outside of Metcalfe and MDK KTM's Ryan Sipes to move into fifth by the fourth lap. Soon Grant was reeled in by Dungey, with the Suzuki rider making the pass for the lead on lap six. It wouldn't be much longer before Grant's bike would expire and drop him out of the race. Villopoto continued his move towards the front and stayed lower than Izzi on a tabletop to sneak by him. However, shortly after that, Izzi would square Villopoto up in a turn and the two riders came together. The result was a bent shifter for Villopoto. He would drop back while his bike was stuck in gear. The 2008 Champion was forced to pull into the mechanic's area for repairs on the shifter, costing him valuable time, eventually pulling out of the race altogether. For the third year in a row, Villopoto would come up one race short of the elusive Monster Energy/Kawasaki Triple Crown of Motocross. Dungey was cruising up front, and Lemoine would take advantage of Grant's misfortune and move into a career best second. Dungey took the win, Lemoine second and Metcalfe third.

Stewart grabbed the BTOSports.com Holeshot Award in the first AMA Motocross moto and never looked back. The Kawasaki rider was eager to achieve the perfect season and he quickly put five seconds on the rest of the field. He would go on to stretch his lead over Factory Yamaha's Broc Hepler, Monster Energy Kawasaki's Timmy Ferry, Red Bull Honda's Jimmy Albertson, and Rockstar/Makita Suzuki's Michael Byrne. The trio of Hepler, Ferry and Byrne would begin an exciting battle for second throughout the moto. Hepler used his home track knowledge to pass Ferry, who snuck by him, and move into second. However, Ferry would strike back. This was a great battle as the two criss-crossed lines and passed each other at least five times before Ferry secured second. Stewart was all alone in front at this point. Albertson succumbed to the pressure from his teammate Andrew Short in the pro section, dropping another spot. Moto XXX Honda's Jeff Alessi and Factory Yamaha's Josh Hill collided in a right hander, knocking Alessi out of the moto with an apparent shoulder injury. Factory Yamaha's Sean Hamblin would also move up from his first lap standing of 12th into sixth. Stewart earned his 23rd moto win in a row followed by teammate Ferry and hometown rider Hepler.

The AMA Motocross Lites class closed out its season with an exciting final moto. Speedy rookie Wharton grabbed another BTOSports.com Holeshot Award followed by Dungey, Grant, Villopoto, Metcalfe, Suzuki City/OTSFF/Rockstar Suzuki's Steven Clarke and GEICO Powersports Honda's Jake Weimer. Wharton lost his front end in the third corner and went down, taking Villopoto with him. Villopoto's rough day continued as he was caught under his bike. By the time he restarted he was dead last and nearly a full lap behind, but the three-time champion put in one of his most determined rides to bring home 16th in his final race as an AMA Motocross Lites rider. Dungey took advantage of Wharton's bad luck to move into the lead followed by Grant and Metcalfe. Izzi was coming through the pack and got by Clarke on one of the uphill sections by out-powering the privateer and worked his way up fifth by the fourth lap. Grant slowly began to fall back and was passed by Metcalfe and Weimer on the same lap. Eventually, Grant dropped back to eighth. Lemoine was also moving up and got all the way to fifth before crashing out of the moto. Izzi caught fire in the second half of the moto and passed all the way up to second. Weimer closed up on Metcalfe and the two made contact right after the finish line with Metcalfe going down and losing a bunch of positions. The order was now set as Dungey took the win and the first 1-1 finish of his career, followed by Izzi and Weimer. This would also be the overall podium. It marked the first 1-2 finish for the Rockstar/Makita Suzuki team.

All eyes were on the number 7 as the AMA Motocross class blasted out of the gates in the season's final moto. Albertson would hold the outside line to grab the BTOSports.com Holeshot Award. Stewart, Hepler, Byrne and MDK KTM's Matt Goerke followed in tow, with Ferry inching up on the group. Moto XXX Honda's Antonio Balbi found himself on the ground, dropping him to the back of the field. Ferry made short work of Goerke and Byrne and resumed his battle with Hepler from the first moto. Albertson appeared to jam his shoulder and lost a few positions before recovering and getting back up to speed. Ferry stalked Hepler for most of the moto before forcing the Yamaha rider into a mistake on the up-hill double section and motoring around him. Byrne would trail these two by four or five seconds and, in the process, pull a huge gap on the rest of the field. Short and Albertson battled again for position and joining them was teammate Ivan Tedesco. The perfect season was completed when Stewart crossed the line to win the second moto as was the Monster Energy/Kawasaki Triple Crown of Motocross, bringing one of the most dominant seasons in AMA Toyota Motocross history to a close. Ferry finished second again and secured the runner-up spot in the standings with Hepler finishing strong in third.

Quotes:

AMA Motocross

Broc Hepler, Factory Yamaha, AMA Motocross, Third Overall

"It's a little more pressure (to be at home). The home race is in front of friends and family. I want to do well here. If I don't (do well), I feel like I've let people down. It was good to come here and put an exclamation point on the season. It was great (battling with Timmy Ferry). I was kind of bummed Timmy got me both motos, but he had some better lines than me and just beat me. I wish (the track) was a little more rutted. This is probably the hardest packed it's ever been. But as you can see it didn't hurt the racing."

Timmy Ferry, Monster Energy Kawasaki, AMA Motocross, Second Overall

"Obviously second (in points) was good. I obviously didn't want James (Stewart) to get that perfect season, but he came out strong and rode flawless. I think I've had my best year results wise. Aside from a Supercross injury, I've had the best results. To finish the season off at the last race and feel strong will make this off-season a lot better. It took me a half moto in both motos to adapt to the lines Broc (Hepler) was using. Luckily I found a way around."

James Stewart, Monster Energy Kawasaki, AMA Motocross, Overall Winner

"I didn't want to get to 23-0 and blow it in the last moto. The track was really tricky and there were a lot of bumps out there. So I was a little nervous. For me it was (a relief for the season to be over). After the last few seasons I've had in outdoors, I've had a really tough time finishing the season. It was just a lot of weight lifted off my shoulders, especially after coming off the surgery. The way the season went is just unbelievable. It's an honor to be mentioned in the same category as Ricky Carmichael."

AMA Motocross Lites

Jake Weimer, GEICO Powersports Honda, AMA Motocross Lites, Third Overall

"I've had an up and down season. I started off doing all right and slumped in the middle then picked it up at the end. It's nice to end the outdoor season with a podium. Even without this finish, I would still be confident heading into (off-season) testing. We're all here hoping that we can get a win. I'm really looking forward to '09."

Nico Izzi, Rockstar/Makita Suzuki, AMA Motocross Lites, Second Overall

"It's been a huge roller coaster ride (this season). I didn't start out quite so well. I took a week off and got my first (moto) podium at High Point and it went from there. I think that time off was good for me. I came back stronger than ever. (The second moto) today was probably the best moto for me all year."

Ryan Dungey, Rockstar/Makita Suzuki, AMA Motocross Lites, Overall Winner

"It feels good. I put a lot of time in during the week. To see things turning around because of that is (rewarding). To get both moto wins was awesome. I almost led every lap too. I haven't really had that (opportunity) to be out front and it was just a great experience to do that. I'm looking forward to next year's championship. Ryan (Villopoto) is moving on so I really want to set the bar. I feel strong and it's good to have the experiences I've had the last few weeks. It gives me a lot of confidence."

-credit: ama

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Series AMA
Drivers Ricky Carmichael , Josh Grant , Josh Hill , James Stewart , Jake Weimer , Ryan Dungey , Ryan Villopoto , Matt Goerke , Andrew Short