Ryan Villopoto talks about the final race of the season at a Las Vegas press conference at Sam Boyd Stadium. PHOTOGRAHY BY SHAN MOORE
Las Vegas, NV (May 2, 2014) – The 2014 AMA Monster Energy AMA Supercross Series wraps up tomorrow night in Sam Boyd Stadium in Las Vegas, Nevada, with the final round of its 17-race series. Last weekend in New Jersey’s MetLife Stadium, Monster Energy Kawasaki’s Ryan Villopoto wrapped up his fourth-straight 450-class title by grabbing his 40th career win. This marked just the second time in the 40-year history of the sport that a rider was able to wrap up a four-straight title. Jeremy McGrath also won four straight in 1993, 1994, 1995 and 1996, in addition to titles in 1998, 1999 and 2000.
Today, Feld Entertainment hosted a pre-race press conference at Sam Boyd Stadium for a few of the top riders, giving the local press a chance to ask a few questions. Here are few highlights from that event.
First up was Villopoto, and he talked about wrapping up the title early.
“Obviously, the pressure is off,” said Villopoto. “It’s a long season and you have to show up every weekend ready to race and ready to race a different person every weekend, so you can’t have a bad weekend, because if you do you can lose a lot of points and it jeopardizes your chances. Now, with the pressure off, I can go through my days now and not feel like I have something hanging over me.”
Villopoto also talked about the importance of winning throughout his career.
“Growing up in the amateurs, the emphasis was always there on winning,” said Villopoto. “My dad was always pushing me to be better and to win races, so to me, success is winning races, and obviously championships too.”
Ryan Dungey comes into tomorrow’s race sitting second in points ahead of James Stewart, and the Las Vegas race will determine the runner-up slot in the final championship standings.
“We are second right now and we’re going to try to solidify that tomorrow and then start looking to the outdoor season,” said Dungey. “I hate to come down to this last race with nothing on the line. It drives me crazy not being on top and it’s kind of heartbreaking because that’s why I’m out there is to win races and to win championships, although we haven’t done much of either lately. Still, I’ve had a pretty good year, we’ve had some ups and downs year, but overall it’s been a competitive year.
Justin Bogle pretty much has the East Regional 250SX class wrapped up and just needs to show up to earn the title. Before the season started, the GEICO Honda rider wasn’t even sure he’d be riding due to a back injury he suffered last year.
“It’s been a crazy year for me, coming from December in a back brace with a lot of uncertainty, but I have a lot of incredible people around me,” said Bogle. “Even though the points are in my favor, I still want to go out there and put in a good race out there tomorrow and get on top of the box.”
In the meantime, Jason Anderson and Cole Seely are still in a battle for the West Regional 250SX championship, with Anderson holding an eight-point lead over Seely with tomorrow’s race to determine the outcome. The West series riders haven’t raced since Seattle.
“I’ve just been putting in my practice laps and I feel good coming into this race and I think I’m prepared,” said Anderson. “It’s coming down to the wire between me and Cole and I think it’s going to be a good race. I’ve been sticking to the same routine and just putting in my laps. The championship is a big deal and obviously you don’t want to get hurt getting ready, but you have to keep doing what’s been working for you.”
Seely has to make something happen to have a chance at the title.
“I just need to go out there and lay it all on the line,” said Seely. “I’ve tried not to think about the championship too much, I’ve just tried to go into each race prepared. It’s going to be dry, so it’s going to be a lot like the test tracks I’ve been riding, so hopefully that will play to my favor.”
Racing gets underway tomorrow night at 7:00 and will be broadcast live on Fox Sports 1 starting at 10:00 PM Eastern.