James Stewart will be one of the favorites heading into this weekend’s race at Cowboys Stadium in Arlington, Texas. Photography by Shan Moore.
The Monster Energy AMA Supercross heads east this weekend to Cowboys Stadium in Arlington, Texas, after six rounds on the west coast. The west coast swing produced four different winners, with James Stewart grabbing his first win in almost a year last weekend in San Diego, the Yoshimura Suzuki rider coming out on top of Ryan Villopoto after 20 laps of tight action
Stewart will be one of the favorites heading into this weekend’s race in Texas, as will Monster Energy Kawasaki’s Villopoto, who continues to lead in the way in the championship. AT&T Stadium will also serve as the site of the opening race in the Eastern Regional 250SX Class Championship.
Last weekend at the sixth race of the 2014 season from San Diego’s Qualcomm Stadium on Military Appreciation Night, Stewart and Villopoto set a torrid pace throughout the 450SX Class Main Event. Despite Villopoto’s best efforts, Stewart kept the defending champion at bay to claim his 46th-career victory and first in 15 races dating back to Atlanta last season.
“It is always special to win, but especially this season,” said Stewart. “Tonight was our military-themed race and everyone here was one big family. This was an amazing race and I look forward to heading to AT&T Stadium (in Arlington, Texas) next weekend.”
After starting the season with a 17th-place effort due to a crash late in the Main Event of the first race, Stewart has been one of the most consistent riders in the championship. He’s captured three podiums in the last five races, tied for the most in the division, and is second only to Villopoto in average finish boasting a 3.2 versus Villopoto’s 2.4. He’s climbed to fourth in the point standings, 21 points behind Villopoto for the lead.
As for Villopoto, his unmatched consistency has helped him extend his lead in the championship to its largest margin of the season, currently sitting at nine points ahead of Red Bull KTM’s Ken Roczen, who rounded out the podium in San Diego.
One rider’s who status is uncertain for the seventh stop on the schedule is Discount Tire Racing/TwoTwo Motorsports’ Chad Reed, who shares the 450SX Class lead in victories with Villopoto at two. On the final lap of the Main Event in San Diego, Reed’s front tire made contact with the rear tire of Roczen as the two battled for third. The contact sent Reed hard into the ground, resulting in a DNF and the attention of the Asterisk Medical Crew who helped Reed off the track. Reed provided an update on his condition late Sunday night via Twitter, suggesting he intends to at least attempt to race on Saturday night.
Reed reported via Twitter: “So not the news I wanted 3 broken bones 1) scapula 2) collarbone 3) T1 Explains the pain I guess. Sometimes things don't make sense it's that love hate relationship you have with racing but every Saturday night they drop the gate. In six days I plan to be there! Thanks for all the prayers hope to make y'all proud TwoTwo supporters.”
Reed’s uncertain future will have a major impact on the championship battle, whether he’s competes or not. He had been the hottest rider in the class in recent weeks and had the opportunity to go for his third win in four races in San Diego. After entering last weekend just two points behind Villopoto for the championship lead, Reed now sits third, 15 points out of the lead.
The intriguing complexity of the championship that continues to take shape with each passing week headline the talking points this week:
After a six-race run to start its season, the Western Regional 250SX Class Championship will take its annual midseason break before returning to action on April 5. In its absence, the Eastern Regional 250SX Class Championship moves into the spotlight and will kick off a seven-week stretch of competition.
With defending Eastern Regional Champion Wil Hahn now competing in the 450SX Class for GEICO Honda, the title is vacant and up for grabs with a talented field of young riders ready to fight for their first career title. Veteran riders like GEICO Honda’s Blake Wharton and Justin Bogle, Monster Energy/Pro Circuit/Kawasaki’s Blake Baggett and Martin Davalos, and SmarTop Racing MotoConcepts’ Kyle Cunningham are balanced by experienced young up-and-comers like Yamalube/Star Racing Yamaha’s Jeremy Martin, Monster Energy/Pro Circuit/Kawasaki’s Adam Cianciarulo, and GEICO Honda’s Matt Bisceglia.
The Western Regional 250SX Class Championship ended its six-race run by welcoming its fourth different winner on Saturday as Monster Energy/Pro Circuit/Kawasaki’s Justin Hill won the first Main Event of his career in San Diego. Rockstar Energy Racing’s Jason Anderson retook the points lead with a runner-up finish while Troy Lee Designs/MAVTV Honda’s Malcolm Stewart secured his second podium finish of the season. Troy Lee Designs/Lucas Oil Honda’s Cole Seely finished fourth and went from a tie for the points lead to a four-point deficit. Monster Energy/Pro Circuit/Kawasaki’s Dean Wilson, who entered San Diego in search of a second straight win, crashed while leading and recorded a 20th-place finish to drop to 33 points out of the lead.
Last season in Arlington, Villopoto raced to his third victory of the season to continue his charge towards an eventual third consecutive 450SX Class title. In the Eastern Regional 250SX Class opener, Wilson dominated to secure the fifth win of his career.
The first race held in Dallas was February 28, 1975, when Jimmy Ellis won on Can-Am. Reed has the most wins of any rider, with four victories coming over the span of six seasons. Mike LaRocco, Jeremy McGrath, Doug Henry, Kevin Windham, James Stewart, and Ryan Villopoto have all won in Dallas in both the 450SX Class and 250SX Class. Since 2007, five different winners have claimed victory in the 450SX Class.