The 2009 Monster Energy AMA Supercross, an FIM World Championship, kicks off at Angel Stadium in Anaheim, Calif., this Saturday for the first of three races at the famed facility. AMA Supercross champion Chad Reed will defend his championship against the top racers in the world, including James Stewart, who returns from injury, Kevin Windham, who was runner-up last year and Ryan Villopoto, who is one of the world's top young racers.
Reed, of Dade City, Fla., dominated in Anaheim last year, winning all three races en route to his second AMA Supercross title. The three-race sweep marked the first time the Rockstar/Makita Suzuki rider had won at the legendary Angel Stadium since 2004. He joins former AMA Supercross class champion Stewart as the only riders to sweep all three races in Anaheim.
GEICO Powersports Honda's Windham, of Centreville, Miss., chased Reed to the final race of the season in 2008 and finished second overall in the standings. The veteran earned four main event wins and eight podium finishes, marking the third time in his career that he finished runner-up in the championship.
Team San Manuel Yamaha's Stewart, who missed most of the 2008 Monster Energy Supercross season due to a knee injury, will challenge Reed for the number-one plate. On the way to winning his first AMA Supercross Championship in 2007, Stewart, of Haines City, Fla., captured 13 wins and two additional podium appearances.
"Defending your championship is harder than winning because you have guys that are really hungry to take it from you," said Stewart. "You have to work double-time just to stay ahead of the game."
Former AMA Supercross Lites class champion Villopoto, of Poulsbo, Wash., makes his AMA Supercross class debut at Angel Stadium. The Monster Energy Kawasaki rider is a three-time AMA Motocross Lites class champion and has the speed to run with the elite riders in this class.
"I don't think it's out of reach to win the championship, but it's definitely going to be tough," Villopoto added. "I might be asking a lot, though. You have to look at being consistent and that's what I want to do. If I can be consistent, I can maybe get second or third."
Also returning to the class in 2009 are Red Bull Honda's Davi Millsaps, of Cairo, Ga., who won main events at Atlanta's Georgia Dome and Detroit's Ford Field, and Factory Yamaha's Josh Hill, of Yoncalla, Ore., who won the main event at Minneapolis' Metrodome.
Rockstar/Makita Suzuki's Ryan Dungey, of Belle Plaine, Minn., was runner up in the 2008 Western Regional AMA Supercross Lites class and won two of the three main events in Anaheim last year. YOT, Boost Mobile, Monster Energy, AM/PM's Jason Lawrence, of Carlsbad, Calif., won the third and final race last year in Anaheim, eventually earning the class championship. Like it has shown in years past, this season's AMA Supercross Lites class is expected to be stacked with talent.
"The field is so deep in the Lites class that I could probably name off a couple dozen guys that are going to be fast next year," said Dungey. "I'm just going to train this off season and work toward being 100 percent for the start of the season. We'll see who is lined up on the gate at that time."
The first AMA Supercross race was held in Anaheim on December 4, 1976, and Marty Smith won on a Honda. Ricky Carmichael and Jeremy McGrath share the all-time AMA Supercross class win record at Angel Stadium with eight wins each. In the Western Regional AMA Supercross Lites class, three riders have swept all three races at Angel Stadium: Villopoto, Ivan Tedesco and Ernesto Fonseca. Stewart, Windham and McGrath are the only riders in history to win in the AMA Supercross Lites class and AMA Supercross class at Anaheim.
Tickets are available at www.SupercrossOnline.com, by phone at 714-740-2000 or 213-480-3232, the Angel Stadium box office, Ticketmaster, Ticketmaster outlets, www.ticketmaster.com, and participating Yamaha dealerships. Club Level and Diamond Club seats are $75; Trackside Seats are $45; Extreme seats are $35; Upper Deck seats are $30 for adults and $15 for kids. All seats are $2 more on the day of the race. Practice and qualifying begin at 12:30 and racing begins at 7:00 p.m. Just recycle any empty Monster Energy can at the Pit Entrance for your free admission to the Pit Party with a valid Saturday ticket from 12:30PM - 6:00PM. Pit Passes will also be available for purchase for $10 on the event day at the Angel Stadium box office.