Not only was the Houston round of the Monster Energy AMA Supercross series a historic one – with Ryan Villopoto wrapping up his second consecutive 450-class title sooner then any other rider in the history of the series (there are still four rounds left on the schedule), but it was an eventful race as well, with several key crashes, weird post-race antics by a high-profile rider, and one of the best battles we have seen all year, courtesy of Kevin Windham and James Stewart.
Villopoto came into the round with a whopping 94-point lead over Stewart in the championship chase, and needed to win and for Stewart to finish off the podium for him to clinch the title early. All week Stewart had been unsure if he would compete in the Houston round, due to the injuries he suffered two weeks before. When the news broke on Friday that the JGRMX rider would indeed ride the in Houston, it was reasonable to think that Villopoto would have to wait until New Orleans two weeks later to wrap things up. After all, most everyone figured Stewart could get on the podium. But, as the old adage goes, that’s why they line ‘em up and race ‘em.
When all was said and done, Villopoto came away from the Houston round with his eighth win of the season and back-to-back Supercross titles, making him only the fifth rider ever to do so. Granted, Chad Reed and Ryan Dungey have both been sitting on the sidelines for much of the season, but no one can deny the speed and domination that Villopoto has displayed in 2012.
Kevin Windham and James Stewart put on an amazing show
The best racing all night took place in the second 450 Heat race between James Stewart and Kevin Windham. Stewart took the lead early and looked as though he would pull away, however, Windham, who turned the fastest lap in qualifying earlier in the day, pulled even with Stewart and passed him heading into a gnarly whoop section that the GEICO Powersports Rider clearly had dialed in. For the next several laps, Stewart would retake the lead on the opposite side of the track, only to have Windham pass him over a set of jumps that Windham was “tapping” with his rear wheel to lift him over the second jump. The exchange was breathtaking to see and it kept the crowd on its feet. Ultimately, Windham endoed hard over a jump on the final lap and was carted off the track by the mobile medical crew. Initial reports from the team were that Windham checked out okay at the track, but was going to a local hospital to have his shoulder and thumb looked at.
Davi Millsaps is gaining confidence and speed as the season progresses and has turned out to be JGRMX’s most consistent performer. The Houston race marked his second runner-up finish of the year, and early in the race, after grabbing the holeshot, Millsaps kept pace with Villopoto after Villopoto passed him in the whoops. In Houston, Millsaps said he struggled during practice and in the heat race to find a groove, but in the main it all came together for him.
Jake Weimer was a solid third.
Jake Weimer finally got a good start in the main and he capitalized on it to come away with a third-place finish, beating out Muscle Milk Honda rider Justin Brayton in the process. “I feel I’ve been riding well all season, my starts just haven’t been there and that’s been the difference. I just haven’t been putting myself in good position,” Weimer said after the race. In the final, Weimer didn’t get a great start, but he made a couple of quick passes and then moved around Alessi at the midway point to finish third.
Mike Alessi matched his best finish of the year with a fourth.
Mike Alessi matched his best finish of the year with a fourth. The MotoConcepts Suzuki rider crashed in his heat race and got run over, so he was hurting a bit when he lined up for the LCQ. However, the holeshot king got off to one of his patented starts in the LCQ and moved on to the main where he ran third for a time before Weimer finally came by. Alessi readily admits that he’s more comfortable on the outdoor tracks, so look for the former mini cycle champ to be a consistent podium threat when the MX nationals begin.
Justin Brayton was not pleased with a fifth after turning in runner-up finishes at the previous two races. Brayton had a pretty good day going until the main, where a bad jump off the gate put the Muscle Milk Honda rider in a bad spot. According to Brayton, the Houston course was fast and didn’t really have any major obstacles that would allow the riders to gain an advantage. It was hard to make up time, so if you got a bad start you struggled to move forward.
James Stewart was unsure if he would race Houston, and made a last minute decision on Friday to make a go of it. In the main, the JGRMX rider got a bad start and then went over the bars when he over-jumped a table-top, putting an end to his night.
This photo of Ken Roczen and Justin Barcia on the podium tells a lot: Roczen got a gift and he admitted it, although he rode a fantastic race and put himself in position to capitalize on a Barcia mistake, which is almost what happened. Barcia was not pleased at all, after leading almost the entire race only to go down when a lapper (Lance Vincent) took him out on the final lap, handing Roczen a clear track to the checkers.
Ken Roczen stood up to Barcia during the early part of this Lites final, and after Barcia grabbed the holeshot, the Red Bull KTM rider passed him to briefly take the lead. Roczen and Barcia came together twice during the early laps, and afterwards Roczen talked about the fact that he felt like he needed to stand up to Barcia. “We came together a couple of times tonight,” said Roczen. “He’s normally always a dirty rider but I just wanted to show him he’s not here to bully us. I knew I wasn’t going to hold on. It’s always a Barcia Roczen thing, it’s nothing bad, but the crowd needs some excitement so it’s good.”
Justin Barcia was incredibly fast in Houston, and should have easily won the main event, which is probably why he was so upset when he didn’t. It’s unfortunate that he was taken out by Vincent on the final lap, going down and allowing Roczen to get the win, but that’s racing, and Barcia has used that quote on the podium himself… last year at Unadilla comes to mind. I’m sure right now he’s sorry for what he did after the race, roosting, Vincent Roczen and an official, but he says it was done in the heat of the moment. On Sunday, the AMA fined Barcia $5,000 for his post-race antics. “I got the holeshot and led pretty much the whole race and then on the last lap a lapper hit me,” said Barcia. “I kind of freaked out after the race, which was not professional, and I’m kind of bummed out about that, but it was just a tough night.”
Monster Energy Pro Circuit Kawasaki’s Blake Baggett came from behind to beat out Blake Wharton for third in the main. “I rode loose and smooth, and sometimes I didn’t get through the rhythm section clean, which is what caused me to lose some ground to Roczen, otherwise we were going to have a good battle going down to the finish,” said Baggett. “I had fun and I’m pumped to be up here and we’ll move on to next week.”
Official Monster Energy Supercross Results
Supercross Class Results
1. Ryan Villopoto (Kaw)
2. Davi Millsaps (Yam)
3. Jake Weimer (Kaw)
4. Mike Alessi (Suz)
5. Justin Brayton (Hon)
6. Robert Kiniry (Yam)
7. Broc Tickle (Kaw)
8. Nico Izzi (Yam)
9. Weston Peick (Kaw)
10. Josh Grant (Kaw)
1. Ken Roczen (KTM
2. Justin Barcia (Hon)
3. Blake Baggett (Kaw)
4. Blake Wharton (Suz)
5. Phillip Nicoletti (Hon)
6. Alex Martin (Hon)
7. Jake Canada (Hon)
8. Darryn Durham (Kaw)
9. Justin Bogle (Hon)
10. Matthew Lemoine (Kaw)
Hart and Huntington/Dodge Motorsports rider Josh Hill was scheduled to return to racing at the Houston round, but missed the race after injuring his arm in a practice crash.
The Legends and Heroes tour was on hand in Houston, and they presented three-time AMA MX Champ Kent Howerton with a Lifetime Achievement award. There were also lots of cool vintage bikes on hand.
Country star Lyle Lovett was also on hand to watch the racing. Lovett is a Houston native and also a longtime dirt bike fan and said he comes out to watch the Houston round each year.