This Week in Monster Energy Supercross: Anaheim 2
AURORA, Ill. (February 4, 2011) As the Monster Energy AMA Supercross, an FIM World Championship, makes its second and final stop at Angel Stadium this Saturday night for the pink-themed "Breast Cancer Awareness" race, Team San Manuel Yamaha's James Stewart, of Haines City, Fla., has his sights on an eighth-career Supercross class win in Anaheim.
Stewart capped off his second win of the season last weekend in Oakland, and in doing so, moved into the Supercross class points lead, passing Monster Energy Kawasaki's Ryan Villopoto, of Poulsbo, Wash. The win didn't come easy; after a crash in the first practice, Stewart missed part of the second practice and all of the third practice.
"I think the biggest thing for me was rebounding after a day like today," Stewart said after the race in Oakland.b^0x001cThis is a great win for me and my team and hopefully I can do it again at Anaheim this weekend."
Looking to bounce back from his fourth-place finish last weekend, Villopoto makes his return to Anaheim where he took the first victory of the season.
"I have always liked Anaheim," said Villopoto. "The race was good to me last time around and I hope I can get back on the podium to gain some valuable championship points."
Team Rockstar/Makita Suzuki's Ryan Dungey, of Belle Plaine, Minn., powered his Yoshimura-equipped Suzuki RM-Z450 to a third-place podium finish in Oakland. Dungey, who is the defending Supercross class champion, started the day with a solid practice and qualified third. A poor start made for a difficult heat race in which he eventually finished fifth. In the main, Dungey's RM-Z powered him to a fourth-place start and the Rockstar/Makita Suzuki rider rode strong the entire 20-lap main, eventually working his way to second place. A tough break on the last lap resulted in a slip to a third-place podium finish.
"All in all, my RM-Z450 worked great in Oakland and the team did a great job," said Dungey. "It will be great to go back to Anaheim. We know more what to expect there and hopefully we can get a good start and put the Rockstar/Makita Suzuki up front."
Dungey's teammate, Brett Metcalfe, rode his Suzuki to 11th-place in afternoon qualifying from Oakland. Like Dungey, Metcalfe had a tough time in his heat race and finished seventh. In the main, he rode strong, piloting his Suzuki RM-Z450 to a fifth-place finish, his best of the year.
"I felt a lot better out there on the track in Oakland," said Metcalfe. "I was starting to make moves and pick guys off and was able to work my way up to fifth and felt good. I'm excited to get back to Anaheim. We're definitely progressing -- a fifth in Oakland was good and now we have some momentum going into Anaheim."
Andrew Short, who rides for the Red Bull/KTM team, finished ninth in Oakland, marking his fourth top-10 finish in this year's Supercross class. Short is currently in seventh place in Supercross class points.
"I had a horrible start in the main event last week and took a little while to get going," said Short. "Once I got in a rhythm, I started picking off riders but it was a little late in the race. We continue to make improvements each week and the team is working just as hard as I am to get up front. Hopefully I can manage a better start this weekend and get closer to a top five result."
American Honda Racing's Trey Canard has shown he has the speed to race up front aboard his Honda CRF450R. However, a bad start at the Oakland supercross race last weekend forced the Honda racer to fight his way forward from the rear of the pack and he finished sixth overall. Canard is determined to put himself in a better position from the get-go this weekend at Angel Stadium.
"The major piece of the puzzle that's missing right now are my starts," said Canard. "I have the speed to be up front and I know I'm on a bike that I can win on. I messed up my start last week and was last going into the first turn. The Supercross competition is stacked with fast guys and I can't be getting bad starts if I want to be on the podium. Everything else about my racing feels good so I definitely need to get my starts dialed in."
Honda newcomer, TwoTwo Motorsports' Chad Reed, held off reigning champ Ryan Dungey last weekend to score his first podium result of the season by finishing runner-up, while GEICO Honda's Kevin Windham finished a spot behind Canard, taking seventh overall aboard his Honda CRF450R.
"I'm ready to get on my GEICO Honda and ride to a podium finish at Angel Stadium," Windham said. "I've been riding hard, but the guys who are top five are just riding harder. I need to get up with those top five guys, and I'm hoping to start that push in Anaheim."
In the Western Regional Supercross Lites class, Monster Energy/Pro Circuit/Kawasaki's Josh Hansen leads his teammate, Broc Tickle, by just one point. Hansen is looking forward to coming back to Anaheim where he also captured his first victory of the season.
"I love racing in Southern California since it's where I'm from and I always have a huge amount of support at those races," said Hansen. "Hopefully I can repeat the win from the last time we visited Anaheim."
Monster Energy/Pro Circuit/Kawasaki's Tickle comes off his first victory into Anaheim 2 and looks to keep the momentum going as he came close to winning at the venue just four weeks ago.
"I'm really looking forward to going back to Anaheim," said Tickle. "I've felt better every week and I know if I make minimal mistakes, I can go after another win. The class is really stacked and I'm just happy to finally get a win under my belt."
Red Bull/KTM's Ken Roczen earned the best finish of his rookie season in Oakland, finishing fourth overall in the Supercross Lites class. He is now in seventh place in championship points.
"I was so close to the podium last weekend but I slid out in one turn and lost time to the lead group. I do feel like I am improving and riding smarter each week," said Roczen. "I am disappointed that I haven't finished on the podium yet but I was very close last weekend and have my mind set on it this week in Anaheim."
Team Rockstar Energy Suzuki scored a sixth and a 16th-place finish in Oakland. Ryan Morais powered his Yoshimura-equipped Suzuki RM-Z250 to a sixth-place finish and teammate Martin Davalos finished the 15-lap Supercross Lites main event in 16th. Morais' overall consistent results have moved him up to third place in the Lites West point standings.
"The track conditions were tough and I'm happy I was able to keep my Suzuki RM-Z on two wheels in Oakland," said Morais. "I'm third in points, but I have to start winning some of these if I want to win this championship, so that's what I'm going to focus on. I put some time on my Suzuki this week and I'm ready for Anaheim."
"My Rockstar Energy Suzuki team did a great job, but I had a disappointing weekend in Oakland," said Davalos. "I know I have the speed and the fitness; I just need to work on my head and my concentration. I hope to be better for Anaheim."
GEICO Honda's Eli Tomac is looking forward to continuing his roll of podium results this weekend. The Honda young gun has finished both second and third on the Supercross Lites West podium this season. The next step is to get that first-career win.
"Being on two podiums in a row is a great confidence booster for me," Tomac said. "I'm working on making that a habit each weekend. I'm looking forward to going back to Anaheim since I've raced there once before."
The Monster Energy Kawasaki team will be seeing pink. In honor of the "Supercross Goes Pink" event, everyone is looking to add a little more awareness into their gear and graphics.
Villopoto is getting into the spirit of giving at the event, donating a meet and greet with him at the event. Interested parties that would like to be involved in the auction need to go to the breast cancer awareness booth in the Monster Energy Pit Party.
In addition to the meet and greet, Villopoto will be wearing special black and pink gear and run pink on his helmet in honor of the event's cause. His bike will also showcase the color pink in the graphics as special one-time design for the race. The Monster Energy/Pro Circuit/Kawasaki team of Tickle, Hansen, and Rattray will run a pink on their jerseys for their name and number.