This Week in Monster Energy Supercross: St. Louis

| 1 March 2013 5:06 pm

Monster Energy AMA Supercross SeriesSupercross Logo 0001
Round 9: Edward Jones Dome

Courtesy of Feld Motor Sports
ST. LOUIS, MO, MAR. 1, 2013

Monster Energy AMA Supercross, an FIM World Championship, will travel to the Midwest on Saturday for its annual visit to St. Louis’ Edward Jones Dome. One week ago, Team Yoshimura Suzuki’s James Stewart became the fifth different winner in eight races this season. However, it will be Rockstar Energy Racing’s Davi Millsaps who leads the field into action tomorrow night as the 450SX-class points leader.

After arguably his worst main-event start of the season in his hometown race at the Georgia Dome, Millsaps managed to battle his way into a podium position. The two-time winner this season inserted himself in third place and stayed there to claim his seventh podium finish in eight races, albeit losing a little ground in the championship. The result was even more impressive considering Millsaps is enduring an illness.

“I’m feeling a little better this week, [but] I still have sinus problems,” said Millsaps. “I don’t know what it is. It’s pretty bad, and I’ve been taking medicine for it. It gets to the point where I can’t see very well, and I’m definitely having trouble breathing. All in all, the cold is gone, but these symptoms are just lingering. I’m pretty over it and I’m not going to let it hold me back anymore. [James] Stewart and [Ryan] Villopoto just rode a really good race, and I didn’t get the best start. I was trying, [but] I was just making little mistakes everywhere. I was worried about them and [Justin] Barcia. I need to quit doing that and just worry about myself. I’m just pumped to be on the box again and go into St. Louis.”

After an up-and-down season littered with misfortune, Stewart definitely needed the kind of performance he provided in Atlanta. The Georgia race tends to serve as Stewart’s adopted “hometown” event, so he had the privilege of winning in front of a lot of his family and friends. After capturing the holeshot, Stewart dominated en route to a wire-to-wire win and his 45th career 450SX-class victory. Stewart reclaimed seventh in the championship standings and has his sights set on a continued upward climb.

“What can I say? We won,” said Stewart. “I felt good and I was just trying to stay in my head and focus. I have to give it up to the Yoshimura Suzuki team: They’ve been working so hard and they’ve stood by me [during] this up-and-down year. Now I’m looking forward to building on this momentum and heading to St. Louis.”

Monster Energy Kawasaki’s Ryan Villopoto shed two points off his deficit to Millsaps in the championship, thanks to a strong runner-up finish in Atlanta. Villopoto was the only rider to stay within striking distance of Stewart throughout the main event, and he ultimately moved into second in the standings. With three wins this season, Villopoto leads all riders and is now heading to a venue where he is the defending race winner.

“We moved into second in the standings last week,” said Villopoto, “and now I just need to keep doing what I can to score as many points as possible. The field is really deep with talent, so I know I have my work cut out for me to get another title. I won in St. Louis last year, so I hope I can get back on top of the box again.”

His fellow Monster Energy Kawasaki rider Jake Weimer made his return to competition last weekend after suffering broken ribs several races ago. Weimer posted a solid top-10 finish, in eighth, and began his process of climbing back up the championship standings, in which he currently sits 12th. With another week of rest under his belt, Weimer will be looking to improve his results in St. Louis.

“Last week I wasn’t 100 percent, but I knew I could finish the 20 laps,” said Weimer. “Now I’ll have another week of recovery, and I think I will be close to or even at full strength for the race. I’m glad we are in domes right now so we don’t have to worry about weather as much.”

Red Bull KTM’s Ryan Dungey had a four-race podium streak entering Atlanta and was in possession of second place in the championship. However, Dungey did not get good starts in either his heat race or the main event and was forced to battle from behind all evening long. Despite starting outside the top 10 in the main event, Dungey fought his way to a solid sixth-place finish but fell to third in the championship and now has a deficit to Millsaps that goes beyond one race.

Team Honda Muscle Milk’s Trey Canard is still looking for the speed that made him a title contender in the early portion of the season. Since his last podium finish at the second race in Anaheim in January, Canard is averaging just over a sixth-place finish, which has, in turn, forced him to lose ground in the standings. However, he still maintains possession of fourth place as he is looking to establish some consistency on the heels of a fifth-place effort in Atlanta, where he also needed to qualify for the main event through the LCQ.

His fellow Team Honda Muscle Milk rider Justin Barcia continued his recent string of strong results with a fourth-place finish at his home race in Atlanta. Barcia pressured Millsaps for third for a good portion of the main event, but rather than risk losing positions, he took the points and now continues his upward progress in the championship, sitting in sixth place, 11 points behind Chad Reed in fifth.

“Overall, the night went okay,” stated Barcia, who had won the last two seasons in Atlanta as a 250SX-class rider. “This is basically my home race, so I was really hoping for a podium finish, but it is an improvement from last weekend. I felt good in the main and stayed close to [Davi] Millsaps but was never able to make a solid attempt at a pass. I know what we need to work on, and I am ready to head to St. Louis.”

TwoTwo Motorsports Honda rider Reed suffered one of his worst outings of the season in Atlanta, finishing ninth. Reed wasn’t able to get a good start and had difficulty making passes in his quest to move forward through the talented field. Reed is still winless in 2013 and is in the midst of a 22-race winless streak that dates back to Los Angeles last season.

GEICO Honda had current Western Regional 250SX-class rider Eli Tomac riding in the 450SX class in Atlanta. Tomac will make the move into the premier class next season, and he has assumed control of Kevin Windham’s machine for the remainder of his break from the Western Regional 250SX class season. In his debut ride, Tomac rode smart and ultimately posted a seventh-place finish.

“There is so much talent in this class – it really is no joke,” said Tomac. “I learned a lot this race and have some things I want to change on the bike that I hope will help. I need to work on making passes quicker, but overall I am happy with how the night went. Hopefully it will all come together in St. Louis.”

One week after signing with BTO Sports KTM to compete for the remainder of the 2013 season, Andrew Short suffered his worst race of the year in Atlanta. Short has not ridden a KTM since the 2011 season and he will still need to acclimate himself to the bike, but he will be looking to turn things around in St. Louis after posting his first finish outside the top 10, in 14th.

Toyota/ Yamaha/ JGRMX’s Justin Brayton didn’t have the results he was hoping for in Atlanta, finishing outside the top 10 for just the second time this season, in 13th. Brayton will be looking to turn things around in St. Louis.

The second race of the Eastern Regional 250SX-class Championship produced its second winner in as many races inside the Georgia Dome. After a dominant outing in the opening race by Dean Wilson, veteran rider Wil Hahn stepped up in Atlanta to break through for his first career win.

Wilson entered Atlanta a little sore after a crash in training earlier in the week. Despite that, he still rode strong and kept Hahn within his sights throughout the 15-lap main event. The second-place finish ensured that Wilson maintained control of the points lead, and after another week to recover from the effects of his get-off, he’ll be looking to reassume control of the championship in St. Louis.

“I need to make sure I keep doing what I can to extend my points lead,” said Wilson. “Last week it was difficult to make a pass and I had to settle for a runner-up spot. In St. Louis, I want to make sure I get out front early to get another win.”

His fellow Pro Circuit rider Justin Hill followed up his solid professional debut with another strong ride in Atlanta, finishing in sixth to give him fifth- and sixth-place results to begin his career.

“Every week I keep trying to learn as much as I can,” said Hill. “In Atlanta, I got a good start off the gate, but I wasn’t aggressive enough to hold my position. This week I’ve been working to make sure I stay aggressive for all 15 laps and get the best result I can.”

Hahn’s big win was a pleasant surprise for everyone at GEICO Honda and confirmation that he is a championship contender this season. After grabbing the holeshot, Hahn led all 15 laps to capture the biggest moment of his career. He moved into second in the standings by virtue of the win, sitting just two points behind Wilson for the lead.

“This whole feeling is very surreal,” stated Hahn. “It went exactly how I would have wanted: I got the holeshot, put in solid laps, stayed calm, and took the win. I wanted to make a really hard push in the beginning to put some breathing room between [Dean] Wilson and myself, because I knew he was back there. It worked, and I was able to ride consistent all the way to the checkered flag.”

Hahn’s GEICO Honda teammate Zach Bell bounced back from a misfortune-plagued Pro debut in Arlington to finish with a 10th-place effort. Bell has a lot of speed, which has already been on display, but he is working on generating some consistency as he hones his talents in supercross.

“Overall, I am happy with how Atlanta went,” said Bell. “I am coming away healthy, and I am slowly starting to build my confidence up.”

Rockstar Energy Racing’s Blake Wharton missed out on claiming his second consecutive podium finish to start the season, ultimately landing in the fourth spot. However, thanks to his runner-up effort at the opening race, Wharton still maintains control of third in the championship and sits just seven points out of the lead. This weekend, Wharton returns to the sight of his first career supercross victory back during the 2009 season.

“Atlanta was pretty good,” said Wharton. “It definitely had some different lines; I don’t think anyone can argue that. The dirt was pretty good. In both my heat and the main, I got pretty decent starts. This week was better because I didn’t have to go to the LCQ, but I didn’t do as good, either. It was like a trade-off. The end result wasn’t as good, but it was all right. I rode up front for a little while, but I rode kind of tight. I’m glad I salvaged fourth.”

Red Bull KTM’s Marvin Musquin was the fastest rider in practice during the afternoon in Atlanta. However, the Frenchman was unable to get a good start in the main event and had to work his way through the field rather than establish his own pace out front. Nevertheless, Musquin was impressive in his climb to third, which resulted in his first podium finish of the season and gives him some momentum heading into St. Louis.

Fans can follow this weekend’s Monster Energy Supercross race from St. Louis through the following media outlets:

* Saturday, March 2, at 2 p.m. CT: SupercrossLIVE! will stream three hours of practice and qualifying at
* Sunday, March 3, at noon ET: 450SX-class coverage on CBS.
* Sunday, March 3, at 2 p.m. ET: 250SX-class coverage on SPEED
* Tuesday, March 5, at noon ET: 250SX-class coverage will re-air on SPEED

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