This Week in Monster Energy Supercross: Jacksonville
There’s a lot of racing left and I don’t want to back down at all.
AURORA, Ill, (March 18, 2011) –Monster Energy AMA Supercross, an FIM World Championship, will make just its third appearance from Jacksonville’s EverBank Field on Saturday where Monster Energy Kawasaki’s Ryan Villopoto will be looking to grab his fourth consecutive victory and extend his 26-point lead in the Supercross class standings.
Additionally, Villopoto, along with San Manuel Yamaha’s James Stewart, will be aiming to become the first repeat winner in the short history of Monster Energy Supercross in Jacksonville. Coming off his most impressive win of the season in Indianapolis one week ago, Villopoto is feeling more confident than ever.
“I still want to get some more wins,” said Villopoto. “There’s a lot of racing left and I don’t want to back down at all. I need to be smart, but that doesn’t mean I won’t go after the win every weekend.”
In Indy, Stewart appeared to be off the mark by his standards and even called himself “rusty” after not riding during the week leading into the race. For him, Jacksonville couldn’t be a better place to get back on track. Just a few hours from his hometown of Haines City, the inaugural winner at EverBank Field is hopeful the presence of family and friends can help bring his five-race winless streak to a close.
“I’m feeling a lot better this week and look forward to going after the win on Saturday night,” Stewart said.
Ryan Dungey, the defending Monster Energy Supercross Champion, is also looking for some good fortune in Jacksonville. The current Tallahassee resident has a short commute of his own to EverBank Field and he’s hoping the familiarity with the Florida soil will work to his advantage in getting that elusive first win of the 2011 season.
While his four-race podium streak came to an end in Indianapolis, Dungey put forth a great ride, showing arguably his best speed of the season despite being unable to find a way by TwoTwo Motorsports/Bel-Ray Racing’s Chad Reed.
"(That) was a tough one (in Indy),” said Dungey. “We worked throughout the day to get the Rockstar/Makita Suzuki just right for the main. I mean, the bike was good, but I didn't get the holeshot and lost sight of the lead. I got up to the back of (Chad) Reed and clipped his back tire while trying to knife under and went down. He checked up, and the next thing I knew I was losing my front end. I got back up and closed on him again with, I think, two laps to go. I tried putting a couple passes on him on the last lap but never quite got it to stick. Jacksonville is (this) week and it's time for a win. I’m really looking forward to Jacksonville."
American Honda rider Trey Canard was looking to bounce back at Indy after his worst finish of the season in Daytona. After posting the fastest lap in practice, things were looking good for the Supercross class rookie, but misfortune struck again in the main event, resulting in a sixth-place finish.
Canard will look to get back on track in Jacksonville where he finished third last season.
“I definitely feel like I made some good progress (last) week,” said Canard. “Along with qualifying fastest I also managed a good start in the main, which is something I have concentrated on over the last few weeks. It’s a real bummer that I messed up near the end of the opening lap because I had really good speed and feel I could have been a real contender for a top spot (that) weekend. From here I will focus on (this) weekend’s Jacksonville race. I’m excited because I like the dirt in Jacksonville so it should be a good race.”
Red Bull KTM’s Andrew Short never got a chance to complete a single lap in the main event from Indy. The first-year KTM rider has ridden strong in recent weeks and was looking to continue that trend, but bad luck forced him to record a DNF. For the always optimistic Short, this weekend is just a chance to come back from that adversity.
“It was unfortunate that I had a mechanical problem at Indy and wasn’t able to finish the race,” said Short. “But at the end of the day, everything happens for a reason and we will regroup and come out stronger this weekend.”
Short’s Red Bull KTM teammate Mike Alessi overcame a bad start in Indy to work his way through the field and record an impressive top-10 result. He continues to improve on a weekly basis and will look to break into the top five in Jacksonville.
“I suffered from a bad start last weekend and was able to work my way up to the top 10,” said Alessi. “This weekend I will focus on getting a better start to put myself in a better overall position and hopefully improve upon my overall finish closer to the top five.”
Making his Supercross class debut from Indianapolis was Cole Seely, filling in at American Honda. The Western Regional Supercross Lites race winner in Los Angeles qualified for the main event with a strong heat race and carried over his performance into the main event, recording a ninth-place finish.
“My goal for (Indy) was to finish inside the top 10 and I achieved that,” said Seely. “I’m really happy with ninth and I learned a lot out there racing against some really experienced racers. I’m grateful to have the opportunity to ride the CRF450R for a few rounds and I’m hoping to do even better next weekend in Jacksonville. I really want to thank American Honda and Troy Lee for giving me this opportunity.”
The parity in the Eastern Regional Supercross Lites class remained intact from Indy, with DNA Shred Stix/Star Racing Yamaha’s Ryan Sipes becoming the fourth winner in as many races.
Monster Energy/Pro Circuit/Kawasaki’s Blake Baggett, who won his first race of the season from Daytona, looked to be on the way to claim back-to-back wins in Indy after grabbing the holeshot and dominating the first portion of the main event. However, Baggett crashed out of the lead, but rebounded to finish on the podium in third. He’ll continue his pursuit of the Supercross Lites Eastern Regional Championship this weekend.
For Baggett, Daytona was almost as perfect as the second-year rider could ask for. After winning his heat race, Baggett stormed to the lead in the main event and never looked back, going wire-to-wire to claim his first win for Mitch Payton’s team and the second win of his young career. Additionally, the win moved Baggett into second in the championship.
“I was really close to a win last week, but I wasn’t riding my own race,” said Baggett. “I kept looking back and didn’t focus on my laps. I learn from my mistakes and I really want to get the win next week.”
Fellow Monster Energy/Pro Circuit/Kawasaki rider Dean Wilson experienced another frustrating night from Indianapolis. The Atlanta winner was able to overcome a bad start and post a solid sixth-place finish, but he’s lost valuable points in the championship. A good start will be key to Wilson’s success this weekend and he’ll be doing everything he can to get back into the title fight.
“It’s been hard these past few races,” said Wilson. “I won in Atlanta, but haven’t been able to make it click since then. I need to stay focused and get a better start in the main. I know that will help me to be there rather than ride through the pack.”