CORONA, Calif. (March 31, 2014) – In its first race without one of its brightest stars, Monster Energy/Pro Circuit/Kawasaki continued its winning ways in the Monster Energy Supercross 250SX East Region Championship last Saturday night in St. Louis. As rookie Adam Cianciarulo cheered on his teammates from the sidelines, both Martin Davalos and Blake Baggett filled the void left by their up-and-coming colleague by finishing on the podium inside the Edward Jones Dome.
Davalos' second career victory came as a result of an impressive ride that ultimately showed he's in control of the championship battle. Baggett continued to show his ability to charge through the field and ensure that Monster Energy/Pro Circuit/Kawasaki's dominance in the East Region continued. With St. Louis serving as the final stop before a season-ending run to the finish for the East Region that begins on April 26th, it was the kind of performance to give the team a surge of momentum heading into the final break on the schedule.
Davalos Steps Up
Entering the evening with the red plate on his Kawasaki KX250F for the first time in his career, Davalos proved he's ready to handle the pressure of being the championship leader. He was again the rider to beat throughout the day in St. Louis and stepped up in the main event by holding off a consistent challenge throughout all 15 laps.
Davalos established himself at the top of the field in practice by posting the quickest lap of the afternoon. He carried that momentum into the heat race and kept his undefeated record in the qualifying race intact with a dominant ride. In the main event, Davalos surged to the holeshot and went on to post a wire-to-wire victory, showing impressive composure in arguably his most impressive performance of the 2014 season. Davalos boasts two wins this season, but more impressive is his consistency with six podium finishes in seven starts.
"It was really challenging out there tonight and we had our work cut out for us," said Davalos. "The track was really difficult and demanding, so it was hard to pull away. The bike was working great and I just tried to make sure I put together 15 solid laps. We had a target on our back tonight with the red plate and I'm so happy that I was able to run up front all night and really make a statement. We can control our own destiny here and we'll go to work during the break and be ready to make a run at securing the title in a few weeks."
Davalos cemented his lead in the East Region standings by extending his advantage to eight points and will once again carry the red plate when the championship resumes in East Rutherford, N.J.
Bullish Baggett on the Box
Charging through the field has become somewhat of a forte for Baggett in the 2014 season and it continued in St. Louis. Although he hasn't grabbed the starts he'd hoped for at times, Baggett has
emerged as one of the most aggressive and methodical riders in the division and continues to prove that he'll find his way to the front no matter what the circumstance.
Speed has never been an issue for Baggett this season and he posted the third-fastest lap of practice inside the Edward Jones Dome. He followed his teammate across the line in second in the heat race and was ready to lead a Monster Energy/Pro Circuit/Kawasaki charge with Davalos in the main event. While contact pushed him to a start outside the top 10 in the main event, Baggett's speed proved he was destined to make it into the lead group. He made consistent progression through the field, sometimes picking off multiple riders in a lap. He moved into the top 10 by Lap 3, was inside the top five by Lap 6, and put himself in podium position on Lap 8, closing the gap on the leaders in the late stages of the race. It was Baggett's fourth podium finish of the season and his third in four races.
"Obviously I hurt my chances of battling for the win by starting as far back as I did, but we were able to come through the field and get on the box," said Baggett. "I'm pretty frustrated because I feel like we could have had a win in us tonight, but sometimes things don't work out and I just need to push my way to the front on my Kawasaki KX250F. I'm glad with how we were able to be aggressive and make passes, but I know I belong in that fight for the win. We'll do some more work over the break and get ready to close out the season strong. We have some ground to make up, but we're not out of the championship yet."
Baggett moved into third in the East Region standings and actually occupies the spot with his injured teammate Cianciarulo. He sits 29 points out of the lead and 21 points out of second with two races remaining.
Cianciarulo Eyeing His Return
While he wasn't able to join his teammates on the track in St. Louis, Cianciarulo did have successful surgery last week on his injured left shoulder and is already looking ahead to his return in a few months. Thanks to such a strong opening five rounds to his rookie season, Cianciarulo will still finish the East Region Championship inside the top 10 and the knowledge that he'll be the rider to beat for the regional title he competes in for the 2015 season.
"Of course I wish I was out there with Martin and Blake, but I'm really happy to know that I'll be able to come back stronger than ever following surgery," said Cianciarulo. "I'm so pumped to see both guys get on the box and make the team proud and I'll definitely be there for them however I can for those final couple races in a few weeks. I want nothing more than to help bring another title to Monster Energy/Pro Circuit/Kawasaki, even if I can't be the one to do it myself."
Cianciarulo now sits third in the East Region standings, alongside Baggett.
Looking Ahead >> West Region Return in Houston
Following a seven-week break in competition, the 250SX West Region will make its anticipated return to the track this weekend in Houston for its seventh round inside NRG Stadium. With wins in the final two
races before the midseason break, Monster Energy/Pro Circuit/Kawasaki will bring momentum into Houston with its three-rider lineup of Justin Hill, Dean Wilson, and Darryn Durham. Hill and Wilson are the most recent winners in the division while Durham will make his return from injury. With three rounds remaining until a champion is crowned, the West Region lineup will look to build on the dominant foundation of their East Region counterparts starting this Saturday.
Edward Jones Dome – 250SX East Region
1. Martin Davalos
2. Justin Bogle
3. Blake Baggett
DNS Adam Cianciarulo
CHAMPIONSHIP POINT STANDINGS
250SX East Region
1. Martin Davalos – 149 points
2. Justin Bogle – 141 points
3. Blake Baggett – 120 points
3. Adam Cianciarulo – 120 points
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