Villopoto Takes Surprise Win on Wild Night in Atlanta Dean Wilson Captures First Career Supercross Lites Victory
ATLANTA, Ga. (February 26, 2011) -- A near-sellout crowd of 69,517 fans packed inside the Georgia Dome on Saturday night as Monster Energy AMA Supercross, an FIM World Championship, began the eastern portion of its 2011 season. A wild final lap helped Monster Energy Kawasaki's Ryan Villopoto, of Poulsbo, Wash., grab his third win of the season and extend his points lead. In the second race of the Eastern Regional Supercross Lites class, Monster Energy/Pro Circuit/Kawasaki's Dean Wilson, of Menifee, Calif., captured his first career Monster Energy Supercross win.
As the Supercross class riders came out of the gates for the 20-lap main event, San Manuel Yamaha's James Stewart, of Haines City, Fla., grabbed the holeshot with TwoTwo Motorsports/Bel-Ray Racing's Chad Reed, of Dade City, Fla., and Muscle Milk/Toyota/JGR's Justin Brayton, of Cornelius, N.C., in tow.
On the second lap of the race, Stewart made a slight bobble, allowing Reed to get by and lead for the next 15 laps. On Lap 18, a lapped rider allowed Stewart to close in on his rival before reclaiming the lead as the pair came to take the white flag. As they entered the whoops, Reed dove to Stewart's inside and the two collided, falling to the ground. That allowed Villopoto to assume the lead and take the victory after holding down the third position for nearly the entire race.
"Sometimes it's not about being the fastest. You've got to be smart too," said Villopoto. "I figured (Stewart and Reed) would do that, but not with a lap-and-a-half left. We still have a lot of racing though. I'll just go back home and keep my program going and take it one race at a time."
Behind him, Stewart and Reed remounted in second and third, respectively. However, their battle wasn't done yet. As the duo came to the final turn before the finish, Stewart attempted to block Reed, forcing them to make contact again, which allowed Rockstar/Makita Suzuki's Ryan Dungey, of Belle Plaine, Minn., to pass both and grab his third consecutive runner-up finish. Reed moved past Stewart to take third.
"James put a hard pass on me earlier in the race, so I just put one right back on him," said Reed. "I'm just happy to be up there racing for podiums and challenging for the lead."
Villopoto now holds a 10-point lead over Stewart heading into next weekend's race.
At the start of the Supercross Lites class main event, GEICO Honda's Blake Wharton, of Aubrey, Texas, was the first to the line for the holeshot with his teammate Justin Barcia, of Ochlocknee, Ga., and Eleventen Mods Honda's Alex Martin, of Millville, Minn., in tow. Wharton quickly opened up a gap over the field while a stellar battle for second ensued behind him. On Lap 11, Wharton appeared to be en route to his second career win, but fell, giving the lead to Wilson and eventually remounting in fourth. For the final four laps, Wilson held onto the top spot while Barcia and Monster Energy/Pro Circuit/Kawasaki's Blake Baggett, of Grand Terrace, Calif., completed the podium.
"It (was) hard to pass out there," said Wilson, who moved into a tie atop the standings. "I've been trying so hard and I'm so happy to get this win. It's kind of like a monkey off my back. Last year I wasn't able to get a win so I'm just so happy. Getting my first supercross win is a dream."