ATLANTA, GA, FEB. 26 –
In one of the most dramatic Monster Energy AMA Supercross races in the history of the series, Ryan Villopoto rode his Monster Energy Kawasaki to an astonishing victory in the Georgia Dome Saturday night in front of 69,517 fans after James Stewart and Chad Reed came together on the final lap while battling for the lead putting them both on the ground. Both Reed and Stewart were able to remount, but not before Rockstar Makita Suzuki’s Ryan Dungey got past them to nail down second. Reed rounded out the podium, taking third on the TwoTwo Motorsports Honda. Stewart was fourth. For Villopoto the tangle of Reed and Stewart not only handed him the victory in the Atlanta Supercross, but pushed his points lead to 10 over Stewart (171-161) after eight rounds of the 17-race Monster Energy AMA Supercross, an FIM World Championship. Reed is in third with 150 points. The series moves to Daytona International Speedway next week.
“What can I say,” Villopoto shrugged after earning his third victory of the season. “I want to say I was surprised to find myself in the lead at the checkered flag, but I could tell those two [Reed and Stewart] were going at each other pretty good up there. It’s one of those things that happen in racing and I’m happy that I played it cool and had a steady race. Sometimes steady pays off.”
Stewart lead the race early but nearly crashed allowing Reed the opportunity to take over. From there Reed led until late when Stewart chased him back down. The two ran very close the entire way. While the cause of the Reed/Stewart Atlanta crash will be debated, the Atlanta fans clearly felt Reed was at fault. The Australian was loudly booed when he was introduced on the podium and the booing continued as he tried to explain his version of what happened.
“This is a major championship with millions of dollars at stake,” Reed said. “I’m here to do what I can to win it. I went underneath him and he had the chance to back off but he didn’t and we both went down. After the crash he was leaning on me, doing everything he could to keep me from getting back on my bike.”
Stewart immediately went back to the pits after the race, went into the team’s transporter and said he would not make a statement on the crash. Trey Canard recovered from a near crash to finish fifth on the factory Honda. Andrew Short, Justin Brayton, Kevin Windham, Ivan Tedesco and Brett Metcalfe rounded out the top 10. In Supercross Lite East it was Monster Energy/Pro Circuit Kawasaki’s Dean Wilson breaking through to earn his first Supercross Lites victory. The young Canadian worked his way to the front after getting shuffled back in the first turn. GEICO Honda's Blake Wharton, who led the entire way after making the main from the LCQ, crashed with just over three laps to go. It was Wilson emerging from a battle with the other GEICO Honda rider Justin Barcia and Wilson’s own teammate Blake Baggett.
“I’m so happy to finally get my first Supercross win,” a jubilant Wilson said after the race. Even though Blake [Wharton] crashed I don’t feel like the race was handed to me. I had to battle all the way. I hope this is the start of many wins, but tonight I’ll enjoy this one.” After just two rounds Wilson and Barcia are tied atop the Lites East standings. Next up for the series is the Daytona Supercross next Saturday, March 5. To say the intensity has stepped up a notch at mid-season would be an understatement.
SUPERCROSS: 1 Ryan Villopoto (Kaw); 2. Ryan Dungey (Suz); 3. Chad Reed (Hon); 4. James Stewart (Yam); 5. Trey Canard (Hon); 6. Andrew Short (KTM); 7. Justin Brayton (Yam); 8. Kevin Windham (Hon); 9. Ivan Tedesco (Kaw); 10. Brett Metcalfe (Suz); 11. Davi Millsaps (Yam); 12. Nick Wey (Yam); 13. Kyle Regal (Yam); 14. Chris Blose (Kaw); 15. Tye Simmonds (KTM); 16. Matt Boni (Kaw); 17. Fabien Izoird (Kaw); 18. Mike Alessi (KTM); 19. Antonio Balbi (Yam); 20. Kyle Partridge (Hon).
LITES: 1. Dean Wilson (Kaw); 2. Justin Barcia (Hon); 3. Blake Baggett (Kaw); 4. Blake Wharton (Hon); 5. Ryan Sipes (Yam); 6. Hunter Hewitt (Suz); 7. PJ Larsen (KTM); 8. Malcolm Stewart (Suz); 9. Jason Anderson (Suz); 10. Matthew Lemoine (Kaw); 11. Lance Vincent (Hon); 12. Alex Martin (Hon); 13. Justin Sipes (Kaw); 14. Levi Kilbarger (Hon); 15. Bradley Ripple (Hon); 16. Michael Akaydin (Kaw); 17. Sean Lipanovich (Suz); 18. Nicholas Myers (Hon); 19. Vernon McKiddie (KTM); 20. Killy Rusk (KTM).