Washougal: Pre-event notes

WASHOUGAL, Wash. (July 25, 2008) -- The AMA Toyota Motocross Championship Presented by FMF makes its final trip west and prepares for the final month of action this weekend as the tour heads to its annual stop in the Pacific Northwest. Washougal...

WASHOUGAL, Wash. (July 25, 2008) -- The AMA Toyota Motocross Championship Presented by FMF makes its final trip west and prepares for the final month of action this weekend as the tour heads to its annual stop in the Pacific Northwest. Washougal Motocross Park will play host to the 28th Annual National Presented by Yamaha and Scott USA on July 26-27.

Last weekend, a brutal storm front wreaked havoc on the action from Unadilla Valley Sports Center in New York. In the end, perennial front-runner, Monster Energy Kawasaki's James Stewart, overcame muddy conditions and a strong challenge by Suzuki City Biloxi, MS/OTSFF rider Cody Cooper to stay perfect on the season and take moto wins 15 and 16 en route to overall victory number eight. Last season, Stewart had a weekend to forget in Washington as a knee injury sustained on the circuit forced him out of the 2007 championship. The Kawasaki rider does hold a AMA Motocross victory at Washougal from 2006 along with three AMA Motocross Lites wins.

"I just need to stay safe," said Stewart. "I am riding good. I've got five holeshots in a row and I just want to get a couple of good starts so I can ride my own race. The championship is still the goal and I'm close to it, but I'm not there yet."

In AMA Motocross Lites, Monster Energy/Pro Circuit/Kawasaki's Ryan Villopoto triumphed yet again at Unadilla, sweeping the motos and extending his points lead to triple digits. The unpredictable weather provided a tough challenge for Villopoto, but he persevered to come out on top. This weekend, the Poulsbo, Wash., native heads to his home race looking to take his first overall victory at the facility in his final attempt on a AMA Motocross Lites bike.

"I'm really excited about going to Washougal," said Villopoto. "I've won a moto there, but I haven't won an overall. I really want to leave my last race on a KX250F at Washougal as a winner. The track is difficult but that plays into my strengths so it should be a good weekend for us."

Brett Metcalfe's performance at Unadilla provided him with back-to-back overall podiums, setting a positive tone for the remainder of the season. A long season full of nagging injuries that still cause problems for the veteran rider make his recent triumphs even sweeter.

"I'm starting to feel better," said Metcalfe. "I thought I was going to be good for last week, but I hurt my ankle at Budds Creek so that limited my riding during the week. I've been on the bike a little more this week so I know I can get another good finish."

Both Stewart and Villopoto have a chance to clinch their respective championships this weekend if they are able to leave Washington with at least a 150-point advantage.

Over in the Rockstar/Makita Suzuki stable, Michael Byrne garnered his second straight overall podium with a season-best second-place finish in New York. In recent weeks, the Suzuki rider has turned his season around with continuously impressive runs that have vaulted him up the point standings into fourth place.

"Washougal is a track that has been good to me," explained Byrne. "I've had a podium there before in Motocross Lites and I really enjoy the layout there. Like Unadilla, the soil is not the best but the layout is always fun and, hopefully, they'll have made some good changes. This week, I'll be home in Georgia, doing what I've been doing -- working on sprint and speed stuff -- and just keep training and keep riding my Rockstar Makita Suzuki RM-Z450."

In the AMA Motocross Lites class, Ryan Dungey posted yet another runner-up finish at Unadilla. The young rider even held the lead in the early portion of the second moto before misfortune relegated him to second. A podium finisher in five of the season's eight events, he hopes to make it number six this weekend and maintain his hold on second in the standings.

"I'll be riding the Rockstar Makita Suzuki RM-Z250 all week here in Florida," explained Dungey. "Then (I'll) head out to Washougal on Friday. Basically, I'm just continuing to do our usual practice motos and sprints and all that good stuff, as well as my regular training. Washougal is a fun track -- last year I went three/two for third overall. It's definitely a technical track as far as throttle control goes and I'm looking forward to that."

Teammate Nico Izzi posted yet another top five in New York this past weekend to continue his second half turnaround. Since enjoying his first overall podium in Colorado a few weeks ago, Izzi has been a regular at the front of the pack.

"I've never raced at Washougal, really," said Izzi. "Unless you count that I rode there once on 80cc bikes a long time ago. So I'm looking forward to learning a new track. This week, I'm just still doing the same thing -- I'm recovering during the early part of the week and riding a lot on Thursday and training. It should be a fun weekend."

At Red Bull Honda, Andrew Short will proudly carry the factory flag for the second week in a row. As fellow riders Ben Townley, Ivan Tedesco, and Davi Millsaps nurse injuries heading into the two-week break, Short will once again work to stay up front and build upon the seventh place finish he achieved at Unadilla.

The AMA Motocross Lites squad in the GEICO Powersports Honda stable experienced mixed results in New York. Josh Grant led the way for the squad with a fifth-place overall finish. He also boasted a third-place finish in the event's first moto. Trey Canard was quick as well, running in tow with Grant throughout each moto to finish eighth overall. Third team member finished 16th overall after a 25th-place finish in moto two shut him out of the points.

-credit: ama

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