What Really Happened: Daytona Supercross

Pit Notes:
Hart & Huntington team manager Kenny Watson said that Ivan Tedesco would be back for Houston, and that Josh Hill would try to race Indy.
Chad Reed was at the race and said that the knee was doing fine but he will not be ready for the outdoor season. Whether or not he will put someone on the bike for outdoors is up to his sponsors.
Kyle Regal returned from injury at Daytona, finishing a respectable 13th in the Supercross final on his Merge Honda.
Andrew Short was also on hand and said his shoulder was getting better and he expected to be back on the bike in a week or so.
James Stewart rode the non-timed practice session with his rookie number 259 on his bike. His jersey also sported 259, while his butt patch read “Bubbalishious”.

DRTP-WEB-WRH-01What a crazy race at Daytona. The skies opened up and turned the Daytona Moto Speedway infield into a rutted and sloppy mess reminiscent of the race there in 2008; a race that was won by Kevin Windham. Except this time it was a James Stewart runaway. Stewart has been saying all along that if he could get a start he could win. He proved that at Daytona, where the JGRMX/Toyota/Yamaha rider went a long way towards turning his season around with a dominating win in difficult conditions. Stewart topped a shortened practice session by nearly three seconds over the field, and then grabbed the holeshot in his heat race. In the shortened final (shortened from 20 laps to 16), Stewart was beat out on the start by only his JGR teammate Davi Millsaps, who ended up turning in his best ride in two years. Perhaps it was a turning point for the entire JGR team. According to team manager Jeremy Albrecht, there has been a lot going on behind the scenes… with Stewart; and with the bike.

“Yeah, James has been struggling, and I think it’s been a little bit of everything, confidence, getting used to the bike, a little bit of both,” said Albrecht. “If the first race doesn’t go the way you expect it to you then you start to wonder and it works on your confidence [talking about Anaheim 1]. And we’ve been working on stuff on the bike and we’ve definitely improved a lot of things. The tires have gotten better too, so we just keep improving everything the best we can and that all builds confidence.”

Stewart had admitted that starts have been a one of his main problems and according the Albrecht, Stewart worked really hard on them leading up to Daytona. “Dean [Baker] and Spencer [Bloomer] went down to James’ house to work on starts with him, which we’ve done in the past, but it seemed like this week things were a lot better. We’ve had starts that were good in the heat but maybe not in the main, so the goal was to go down there and find something that was a little more forgiving, so if you don’t nail it perfect you still get a good start, and it looks like we got that done tonight.”

“When you are getting bad starts and have to ride from the back then you have to ride the bike harder than we have it set up and I think that’s been a problem,” added Stewart. “We struggled in the whoops at one race, too, but I think we’ve made some good changes and I think we are at a good spot right now. Obviously, this was a good win for us, the team has been working really hard to get here and for me and Davi to both be up here is pretty special.”

Round 10 of the Monster Energy AMA Supercross Series; Daytona Supercross By Honda.

Davi Millsaps
Davi Millsaps’ runner-up finish represented his first podium sine 2012, and it comes on the heels of strong rides in Atlanta and St. Louis. According to Millsaps, he has been putting in a lot of hard work the past few weeks and he even built a replica of the Daytona course on his property so he could prepare for the race. “I had a little mini Supercross going on there in the back and everyone was calling me wanting to come ride the track with me,” said Millsaps. Apparently, some of the testing and set-up that Stewart has been doing has trickled down to Millsaps, as the Georgia rider looks much more comfortable on the bike these days.

Ryan Villopoto
Now that Ryan Dungey is out with a broken collarbone, Ryan Villopoto can breathe a little easier since he is still enjoying a massive 4-point lead in the series standings even after finishing fifth at Daytona. A crash in the second turn of the final sent the Monster Energy Kawasaki rider to the back of the pack, where he would be forced to fight his way from last place on the opening lap. “When you have conditions like this it’s always tough,” said Villopoto. “I didn’t get the best of starts and I ended up going down – trying to go down for a long time. I lost a few points but overall it’s not too bad. I made a little bit of a poor choice before the main, but considering where I started it turned out okay. It was a long race coming from dead last, but I just tried to do the best that I could and salvage as many points as possible.”

Kevin Windham
Kevin Windham has been in the running for a podium several times this year, but has just missed out on getting on the box. Like Stewart, Windham has been looking for a start, and he finally got one at Daytona, exiting the first turn in third behind Millsaps and Stewart. According to Windham, the talent that’s in this year’s Supercross class makes it extremely hard to get on the podium, you have to have a perfect race, even with several of the top guys out with injuries. “This race is a good example,” said Windham. “I’d gain a tenth and Millsaps would gain a tenth. But that’s the way it is this year where a tenth is a deal breaker. You can throw a blanket over all of us we’re so close. I know all of us fret over LCQ, you make a mistake in the heat and you got to the Last Chance and there are too many good guys in that race to take it easy.”

Marvin Musquin
In just his third ride in the class this year, Marvin Musquin produced a solid fourth place finish for Red Bull KTM, although he was some 15 seconds behind Windham. Musquin said that he actually enjoyed riding in the mud and the rain and that at one point he saw Windham up ahead of him, but then he made a mistake and went down, before settling into fourth. “I’m excited to finish fourth, but I would have liked to be on the podium,” said Musquin.

Words and photos by Shan Moore.

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