Barring a catastrophe, Justin Barcia will leave the Mercedes-Benz Superdome in New Orleans with his second straight Monster Monster Energy AMA Supercross Lites East title.
With just two races left on the Lites East schedule, the GEICO Honda rider holds a 32-point lead over second-place Blake Wharton. To wrap up the title, Barcia just needs to leave New Orleans with a 25-point cushion, which equates to fourth place or better. Given that his average finishing position this year is 1.4 and he hasn’t been off the podium since 2010, this seems a likely scenario.
“It’s going to be an interesting race for me in a lot of ways,” Barcia said in a team release. “There’s a lot of different stuff getting thrown at me. It’s a new race, new dirt, a different stadium and, of course, I’ve got a chance to clinch the championship.”
However, Barcia said he doesn’t plan on letting the gravity of the moment or the grand stage of the Superdome alter his approach.
“I’m not going to let the chance to win the championship change what I’m doing,” Barcia said. “I just want to go out there and race smart and smooth like I have every weekend.”
The series took Easter off and Barcia said that although the rest was nice, breaking his weekly routine and filling the time during a rare off weekend was torture.
“I was lost,” Barcia said. “It was so weird not being at the races. It’s cool to have a little break, but I was going nuts not being at the track.”
Barcia’s Lites teammate Justin Bogle, who suffered some crashes in the weeks leading up to the Easter break, said he welcomed the opportunity to recharge and regroup.
“The mission is the same as it is every week,” Bogle said. “I want to go out there and improve. The year hasn’t gone the way I wanted but I’ve still got a couple of races to finish strong. I went out to California to do some testing and riding. I think the extra weekend helped me get everything back together.”
Bogle has one podium finish this season (a third in Daytona) and is seventh overall in the Lites East standings.
For Wil Hahn, who normally rides in the Lites West series for GEICO Honda, New Orleans will signal his last time filling in for Trey Canard on a 450 for the Muscle Milk Honda team.
“I want to keep building on what I’ve already done riding the 450,” Hahn said. “But I obviously want to be ready when I get back on the 250 next week. There’s nothing quite like the experience you get running out of the starting gate, which will go a long way toward helping me pick up where I left off on the 250.”
One fixture of the GEICO Honda team who will be in attendance but won’t be racing is injured Louisiana native Kevin Windham, who crashed at the last tour stop in Houston.
“It’s a bummer not to be able to compete at my home race,” Windham said. “But I don’t want to let my friends, family, fans and team down so I’ll be definitely be there, I just won’t be riding. For sure there’s no place I’d rather be than New Orleans.”