The track inside Lucas Oil Stadium has proven to be one of the most technical of the season. It caught off a number of riders in the afternoon sessions including series leader Ryan Villopoto. The defending champ dumped his Monster Energy Kawasaki KX450F during the first qualifying session in Indianapolis, but he recovered strong in the second session to clock the fastest lap in the timed qualifying. Villopoto’s 51.537 bested Daytona winner James Stewart’s time (51.637) by exactly one-tenth of a second. Justin Brayton qualified third on his Team Honda Muscle Milk CRF450F with a time of 52.327.
Stewart topped the first session on the JGRMX/Toyota Yamaha, while rival Villopoto hit the ground.
“The track is a little weird in that it’s soft and spongy in some sections and hard-pack and slick in other sections,” said Villopoto, who appeared to lose his front end through a tight turn causing his relatively low-speed crash. “It caught me there a little bit, but I made some adjustments and had a really good second session.”
Geico Honda’s Justin Barcia eked out the top time in the Lites East class after surging Red Bull KTM rider Ken Roczen was fastest most of the afternoon. Roczen topped the first session and then set the standard in the second session with a 52.669. But late in the session Barcia pulled out the stops and tripped the timing clocks with a class topping 52.639. Based on the times it appears the undefeated Barcia might face his toughest challenge of the season.
Villopoto said the variable track presented challenges. “It’s hard to figure out what to set up the bike for since it’s almost like there’s two different tracks out there. You have to be careful, but I rode a lot better in the second session so I feel good going into tonight.”
Stewart comes into tonight’s race 44 points down. It means he needs a little luck to catch Villopoto, but he’s not giving up. “I’m not looking at the points right now, I’m going out to ride my best every night,” Stewart said. “It’s been an up and down season, but I’m feeling good and think I have the speed to keep winning.”
Indy fans are hoping to finally see a head to head race with the two leading contenders tonight.