This week the AMA Supercross series hit the real half-way point with a race at the fabled Daytona Speedway in Daytona, Florida. Even though the program and track has changed drastically since I started going there (1995), it’s always an interesting race and anything can happen at the track that some redneck moonshiner somewhere built.
Getting to the actual supercross track, it was designed by Ricky Carmichael, built by Mark Barnett and I liked it. It had nice flow to it and some cool old school/new school obstacles in it. The riders (and myself) never liked the old designs, they had no transitions, some downright stupid obstacles and was dangerous. It did surprise me how, during the main events, the outside berms never really got used all that much. During practice it was split to some guys going outside but when it mattered, most riders stuck to the insides.
As usual the riders showed themselves and the fans watching why they get paid the big bucks when, during the first set of practices, a jump that was meant to be a step-on/step-off became a quad as the riders flew over the step-off part and downsided it. It was a big jump that took some serious commitment. Soon the 250 guys were jumping and the designers decided to alter the take-off so that it was now not possible. And to that I say boo.
Dean Wilson set the fast time in his second practice by jumping this huge thing but then for the next 450 practice, it was altered. So Dean’s time stood up as the fifth quickest and the announcers were going on and on about how his time was the fifth quickest out of everyone but it was a different track! You can’t compare apples to oranges or in this case, quads to step-offs.
I called Ryan Villopoto for the win in last week’s column and he came through for me and more importantly, for himself. RV grabbed both holeshots (more on that later) and checked out for the prestigious Daytona Supercross by Honda win. We all know that RV is a motocross master, he prefers the comfort of a berm to the inside line, he considers braking bumps to be like sitting on a rocking chair on a Sunday afternoon, he embraces the ruts as a long lost friend, he thinks that…well, you get the idea.
And if there’s one thing about Daytona, it’s that it gets rough, rutty and favors the guys who can hang it out when they’re outside. That’s why four-time mx champion Mike Kiedrowski has won the race three times (and Mike was only able to win 2 “normal” sx’s), Jeff Stanton four times, RC a million times and why Jeremy McGrath, out of his 72 career supercross wins, only won it 3 times. The track favors the riders who don’t care what the bike is doing underneath them. All they care about it pinning it and hoping for the best. Exactly the kind of rider Villopoto is and there was no doubt that he would win. At least in my mind.
But unfortunately for him, he only made up three points on the guy he’s chasing as Ryan Dungey finished a strong second place. Perhaps the only other rider in the 450 class who also loves the outdoors as much, Dungey started well and was actually catching RV a little bit late in the race. The Dunge still holds a commanding lead in the series of twenty points and both of these guys are starting to drop the banged up Josh Hill. It’s now turning into a two man race…
And one of the guys who would make it a three man race if he only had 200 more cc’s would be Christophe Pourcel. Once again, the Frenchman won the 250 race in a dominating fashion. His practice time in his second timed session (where the riders could not jump the quad) was the fastest overall out of everyone. Yeah that’s right. Shows you what this guy is capable of and how, when he makes the jump to the 450’s next year, he’s going to be right there with the big guys. He’s certainly showing that in France, no one has ever heard of the sophomore slump.
And I can’t believe some people were touting Justin Barcia as a potential champion this year. Silly guys…
Finishing second for the third race in a row is Austin Stroupe. Stroupe has led the last two races and is very close to winning one of these things but Pourcel has the upper hand for now. I always thought Austin was a little sketchy and on the verge of crashing at any time and on the 450 early in the season, he looked like he hadn’t changed. But so far, he seems completely in control on the smaller 250. He’s got a great riding style as well. Going 2-2-2 has to be frustrating for Austin seeing as how there isn’t much love lost between these two former teammates.
Man, Trey Canard is making this 450 stuff look pretty easy. The Okie made the jump up a few weeks ago and now has two podiums in a row after his third at Daytona. Ice Trey seems a little small on a 450 but he’s showing that size doesn’t matter as his starts have been there and the veterans of the class have to be wondering what’s going on right now. Kids just aren’t supposed to do this!
Honda has to be pumped as well, they are most likely going to be shopping for a 450 rider and the natural progression of things would lean to Canard being chosen. He’s certainly making a case that he’s ready.
As many of you know, after the Atlanta supercross I stayed down in Florida all week and hung out with my friend Tim Ferry. Ferry’s a pro racer who’s healing up and seeing if he can get up to speed to race this summer. I was his mechanic (some of you may not know this and if you don’t, guess what? The world is round) and we once finished third at the Daytona supercross. Anyways, it was a fun week where I got to:
Watch RV and Nick Wey ride a moto and then I got to shoot a massive Dirty Harry gun. Check it out HERE.
Went out to Chad Reed’s house to watch him, Michael Byrne and Brett Metcalfe (or as I like to call them, the guys who can’t get it done for ‘Roo Nation) pound out motos on a specialty designed Daytona track. Check it out HERE.
Then went to Ferry’s compound the next day to watch him knock off the rust on a supercros track along with Kyle Chisholm and Troy Adams. Check that out HERE.
Who was the guy on Vitalmx.com that said no one in the pits talks to me any more?
The Chad was wavering all week on whether or not he was going to come out at ride. It seemed to me that when he came out and knocked seconds off world class rider Michael Byrne’s time on the practice track that he was ready but I’m no Tony D. Reed looked strong all week and it didn’t look like his broken hand was affecting him at all. On his good hand, he was struggling with a bit of a thumb injury but going as fast as he was going took some sort of thumb strength so I assumed that part was ok.
But in the end, the two-two decided that he was out despite him telling me how much he loves the Daytona track and despite him building that replica track. Then on Friday night around 8pm, he decided that he was in which forced the Kawi guys to scramble a bit to get his bike ready. And when he got out there, Reedy showed that any thoughts of his early season malaise (and I had some thoughts that went down that road to be honest) were to be erased as he set the fastest time in each of his sessions. The #22 Kawasaki looked to be back in a big way…
But then as soon as he was in, he was out! Oh the drama, Chad cited his inability to do twenty laps on the rough Daytona track as the reason he wasn’t going to race and we were all left wondering, what if? Well, we’ll get our answer this week in Toronto when he comes back for real but a part of me would definitely have loved to have seen what he could’ve done at Daytona.
Nice to see the track builders put the starting gate on a mound of clay. That’s a smart move that was a long time coming.
Scary moment in the main event when Grant Langston, running near the front, went over the bars and down hard. GL was knocked out and had to be carried off the track on a stretcher but reports on Saturday night were that he was moving everything and would be fine once the tweety birds went away. Man, there are times in a guys season where you just knew he needed a moment to do something special. With his position, on this track, this was Grant’s moment and it’s a real shame he crashed. Get well soon GL!
Canada’s great hope, Dean Wilson, rode great to come up and get the final spot on the podium. Dean-o has a bit of a ragged outdoor-moto style and I figured this track would suit him. Like I said, he had the fastest time in one practice. Now I know he was born in Scotland and all that but so was the legendary Jeff Ward and I don’t hear any of you American’s NOT claiming him. So he’s Canada’s kid and we love him.
Unless he sucks, then he’s Scottish.
The race was red-flagged because of the carnage and the 450 guys lined back up for another go at it. The re-starts are always a crapshoot but luckily for Villopoto, he came out golden both starts.
Let’s take a look at the top twenty in both classes:
1 1 Christophe Pourcel
2 45 Austin L Stroupe
3 108 Dean A Wilson
4 66 Blake Baggett- Another strong ride from Bagget, Bill Keefe is looking like a smart man for picking Blake up. Maybe he can get some of those special Suzuki parts that Morais has been getting?
5 17 Justin L Barcia- JB17 was good this weekend but looked to have reigned it in a little bit. A when I say “it” I mean his heat seeking missile ways of the past two weekends.
6 46 Ryan Sipes –Sipes has been pretty good this year but as usual, not many people are talking about him.
7 24 Brett Metcalfe
8 36 Darryn L Durham- Welcome back to the races Darryn! What? You’ve been at every round? Oops…
9 32 Kyle B Cunningham- Same comment as above. Kyle was good all day at Daytona and is doing well considering he got a late start on the season.
10 577 Martin Davalos- Martin almost won this race last year. He returns this year with a…decent finish.
11 61 Vince A Friese
12 50 Alex J Martin
13 341 Nico A Izzi – Izzi’s having a rough start to his season. He had a pretty gnarly injury and I’m impressed he’s come this far.
14 613 James A Decotis
15 806 Josh M Lichtle
16 40 Jake Moss
17 65 Troy K Adams- T-Roy rode great in his heat to come from the back. The outsides were not working for him in the main.
18 130 Kyle D Keylon
19 92 Michael L Willard- Between Willard and Chisholm, there are two former Canadian champions making mains every week. Just in case you needed that info.
20 412 Levi Kilbarger
1 2 Ryan D Villopoto
2 5 Ryan M Dungey
3 38 Trey G Canard
4 14 Kevin W Windham- KW was quietly pretty fast. During track walk I talked to him about the Saints winning the Super Bowl and asked him what it’s like when your sad-sack team finally wins the big prize. I’m somehow hoping that will happen to the Maple Leafs before I die.
5 18 David D Millsaps- Good ride for Davi to come from the back.
6 10 Thomas K Hahn
7 27 Nicholas A Wey
8 55 Kyle P Chisholm- Great ride for The Chiz in his heat race. I would say pretty damm good ride in the main as well.
9 75 Joshua R Hill
10 116 Ryan Morais- Lookie here! First 450 ride, first top ten. And at the toughest one to boot.
11 57 Jarred Jet Browne- Jarred “jets” to a great finish. I’m sure no one’s ever used that one before.
12 26 Michael Byrne
13 47 Matt Boni
14 62 Jason W Thomas- Once again, dominated the LCQ to get into the main. The Terminator is a killing machine with no feelings, JT is an LCQ winning machine with no feelings. It’s all they’re programmed to do.
15 921 Manuel Rivas
16 13 Heath D Voss
17 67 Chris Blose- Has there ever been so little written about a rider that was doing so well?
18 23 Justin D Brayton- Crash induced finish.
19 9 Ivan Tedesco- Ditto.
20 8 Grant Langston
If you were Jason Langford and you missed qualifying by one spot and then proceeded to watch Reed and Jason Lawrence not line up for their races and in Reed’s case, probably never had much intention to, would you be a little bitter? I think you would.
Kyle Regal was a no-show under the Valli Yamaha pits and the rumors were everything from he wasn’t getting paid so he quit to he’s hurt to he went on a search for D B Cooper. I asked a Valli guy and he just laughed and told me he didn’t know the “official reason” he was supposed to give me. I contacted Kyle on Sunday and he politely declined comment at this time. His sister Twittered me that Kyle was getting ready for his 450 sx debut. Things seemed to be a little off no?
So it now appears that Kyle and Valli have split ways and that Kyle Cunningham will be promoted to fill in that spot provided all the team switching stuff can be completed. I like Regal and have been pumping him up in this column as being a podium contender but here’s the deal. He didn’t want to ride 250 at all but signed a contract to do so. He didn’t like the suspension the team provided him with and was getting it done by another company. He signed up for the 450 west coast races without letting the team know. It seems that this marriage between Valli and Regal was doomed from the start. As a matter of fact, at A2, one person close to the team told me that it wasn’t going to work out and this was the third (!?!) race of the season. He also said that Regal’s step-father wasn’t helping things out at all.
I should’ve asked this guy what the winning lotto numbers were going to be!
Now obviously Valli isn’t an innocent bystander in this divorce. It takes two and I have to question Valli not hiring a competent manager to oversee things. You can’t have one rider on one program and another doing their own thing behind the scenes because they feel like they know better. (Hmmm, where have we seen that before?) Valli has John Mitchef, a championship winning mechanic, Todd Brown, a member of many factory race programs, Frank Latham, a member of Factory Honda for many years and Keith Burns who was an integral part of Yamaha of Troy for many years. It’s like having an all-star team of Jordan, Barkley, Malone and Dr J with no one to tell them what to do. Maybe the owner of Valli should’ve read THIS story I did a while back.
They say that perception is often reality and I have to say that Kyle hasn’t done very much at the pro level to have the reputation that he already has with some people that just work in the industry. I’m not coming down on either side, I’m simply stating the reality of the situation.
I had a good time collecting on my USA-Canada gold medal hockey game at Daytona. It was mighty sweet to watch the guys pull out the cash and I left Daytona $100 bucks richer and that’s even with Pourcel’s mechanic Kyle stiffing me.
I do have a confession to make regarding Daytona and the night show. I was staying at Ferry’s place in Tampa all week and it’s about a three hour drive out to Daytona. The prices of hotels near Daytona are insane and so I figured I’d save some cash and hang out in Tampa. So I drove to the track and did my usual move of bugging the crap out of people that are actually working (it’s so funny to me that when I was a mechanic I hated dudes like me.) and right after the last set of practices, hauled ass back to Tampa to watch the race live on Speed. I made it just in time with the delay and was drinking Coronas and eating bar-b-que sirloins when the gate dropped for the first heat race.
I had a semi-early flight out of Tampa and was on my to the airport when I got busted by Pinellas Park’s finest for doing a 74 in a 45 (oops!). While I was waiting for the ticket to be issued (she didn’t buy my explanation that I was trying to hit 88mph to go back in time) I noticed another cruiser car pulling up behind the first one. Then three officers approached the car with hands on their guns telling me to get out of the car! Of course I complied and I was politely told to put my hands on the car and asked if I had any weapons on me. Things were getting a bit weird here…
I got frisked and luckily didn’t have any weapons on me at the time (my Gloc was in the carry-on), the officer explained that the license plate on my car turned up stolen. Once I explained it was a rental and that the contract was on the passenger seat, things got a little less tense. Although I tried to take my hands off the car to point to the passenger door and was told to put the hands back on the trunk. After a long wait, we figured out the plates belonged to another Avis car that was indeed stolen a year ago but Avis had just slapped the plate on my Mustang without clearing up the other matter. So the car was parked and Ferry had to come in his PJ’s to drive me the rest of the way to the airport.
Then Avis called me on Monday looking for the car! I explained the whole thing to the dude (as did the cops at the time of getting pulled over) and he was going to look into it and let me know if they can do anything for me in regards to the shame I felt as other drivers judged me when I had my hands on the car and getting patted down (“Hey look mom at the fat guy who’s going to jail!” “Yes son, don’t ever be like THAT guy…”) and we’ll see what happens. I’ll keep you guys in the loop.
And that’s all I got from Daytona! Thanks for reading and if you want to talk, email me at firstname.lastname@example.org and I can tell you for a fact that no one from TWMX reads this column because we’re nine weeks in and I still don’t have a TWMX email. There’s something else I haven’t gotten either…