The AMA Supercross series headed east to Indianapolis this week for round 7 out of 17 (almost half way?? Where in the hell did the time go?) and to be honest, I was looking forward to the shift to the east side. Yeah, it's longer flights and maybe a tad cold but it's nice to get away from the flat-billed sideways hat crowd and get down to business. The teams and riders have less distractions and the ability to get hang-out time is increased tenfold. And if you know anything about me, you know that I value my hang-out time.
I've been going to the Indianapolis supercross for 14 years. As a matter of fact, I don't think I've missed one since I started working as a mechanic back in the day. Last year we moved to the brand new Lucas Oil Stadium after years at the RCA Dome. Besides the high jump up in the quality of venue, we seem to have also found some different dirt.
For years it was rutty, soft and tons of traction at Indy but last year it dried out very quickly and this year, it was more of the same. The dirt morphed from normal Indy (track walk it was nice) to the moon surface and soon, it was slick, slippery and silty. What I thought watching practice was that it was a track that was made for guys like Kevin Windham and Davi Millsaps.
First though, we will talk about the design. Upon first looking at the track, I liked it but as the guys got out there and track alterations were made, it became kind of boring. There was an off camber turn that seemed like it was going to provide some great options but then…something happened. The inside rut became really hard to get into and the outside wasn't fast at all. The corner became a real stop and go thing. At times it looked like the 91 freeway at 5pm.
So the Dirt Wurx crew came out and fixed it before second practice but that didn't work out either so they gave up and just flattened it before the third practice. There was a set of pretty big whoops after the turn which hung the guys up so one whoop was taken out. It didn't really fix the problem. Basically from the end of the section before the off-camber to the finish there was very little passing done. The guys went inside, inside, inside, through the whoops and then because it was slippery, drifted to the outside before the finish. I didn't like the track and neither did most of the riders I spoke to.
I also don't think you can make radical alterations to the track in between timed practices. It's not fair and if something isn't working, you get one chance to fix it and that's after the first free practice. After that, leave it alone.
Ryan Villopoto is on a roll right now as he won his third race of the year to grab the points lead but it wasn't very easy. RV crashed in the first turn of his heat race and suffered a mechanical DNF which forced him to the LCQ. Once there, he was on the far outside and didn't get a great start. In fact, I had him in 7th early on in that LCQ. And he wasn't exactly slicing through the field.
Eventually he got his groove on and battled Jason Thomas to the death for the LCQ win (Uhhh, ok not exactly as JT$ acted like he was a lapper and pointed to where RV should pass him for the lead. It wasn't exactly Custer's last stand but probably a smart move as JT knew he just needed to get second to get in.)
So with the 19th gate pick and lined up on the far outside, Ryan somehow pulled out a start (actually, Jason Lawrence, Ryan Dungey and RV all pulled off good starts from way out there. I think because the first turn was super slippery the guys from the outside could run it in a little hot and scoop the hard-on-the-brakes guys on the inside) and stalked early leader Kevin Windham around the track. It was fascinating to watch KW all smooth and taking the insides and RV looking for a berm and being a bit more of a spaz.
There was no way that KW could hold off the number 2 Kawasaki for twenty laps and eventually he broke on lap 12. Villopoto would go on the rest of the way pretty much unchallenged and right now, he has big mo on his side.
Right before the main, I stopped by the Kawi truck to hang (annoy) and the guys were getting ready to head out to opening ceremonies. RV looked at me and said "You never write anything good about me" which made me realize even more that Ryan loves to jack with me because I've written a bunch of good things about the 2. And I just wrote more.
So RV wins the LCQ and goes on to win the main event. The only other guys I remember doing that are Damon Bradshaw and Jeremy McGrath. Anyone else?
I was bench racing with an editor from another magazine this weekend (for confidentiality sakes, I'll just say his name rhymed with 'Beege.') and I just wasn't sure about Christophe Pourcel. Last year's 250 sx champion has been coming back from an injury, he's a mystery wrapped in a riddle and even his team manager admitted to me right HERE that he wasn't sure how good CP would be.
Well everyone just needed to calm down in proclaiming anyone ready to step up and beat the Fickle Frenchman as Christophe dominated practice, won the heat in convincing fashion and led all 15 laps to win the 250 class opener. It was a great ride and he doesn't look to have been hurt at all. The fact he had only ridden four times before this race didn't seem to matter. It was all very easy for the Frenchman and a real treat for all of us to watch his riding style out there.
There was one change for Pourcel this season, he jettisoned his man-friend Arnaud back to France and now has another Frenchie named Fred who can also work on his practice bike along with drying his underwear. Maybe working for Pourcel is only a one-year internship?
I was very bullish on GEICO Honda's Justin Barcia, I'm a big fan (literally) of his, admire his WFO, scrub a dub riding style and his willingness to hang it out. I just saw this first year sx wild child as being something special indoors and in his debut under the lights, he was indeed special. When the gate dropped, the number 17 grabbed the holeshot and I was full-on driving the JB17 bandwagon (it was bursting at the seams. Everyone but 'Beege' seemed to be on-board.) The kid dropped it in a turn, got up in fourth and eventually got third (although he should mail half his check to Adam Chatfield who was being lapped and absolutely effed Ryan Sipes by racing with him. This allowed Barcia to get by in the last turn.) All in all, it was a good ride for Justin and he'll get better and better.
Can he beat Pourcel? Well, it's going to take a bad start or something by CP because straight-up, I don't see it happening right now.
Ryan Dungey needed to make a statement, he needed to win and make sure that everyone knew that the series was his to lose. He's had a few off-races and not on the pace he was early in the season (I was thinking that maybe he's hurt or something from San Fran crashes because it's weird how he was SO good and now looks good but not head and shoulders better than the other dudes. Of course, we would NEVER know if he was hurt because ALL things like that must be kept to one's self for fear of another rider knowing that you're "weak." Ridiculous but I digress…) and like I said, he needed a good race like Sisqo needs another "Thong Song" and, although he didn't win, I think he got it.
The Suzuki kid worked his way into second from fourth and even pulled up on RV a couple of times. It wasn't the win he needed but it was a good race and something that he can be proud of. He still needs a win real soon to stop RV's momentum but this was a good race.
Him and his buddy Jason Lawrence got into it during practice and both guys were given the punishment of having the last gate pick for the heat races. Jason for supposedly stopping while in front of Ryan and messing up his lap and Ryan for retaliating by roosting the 338. I saw Jason stop in that off-camber and jack Ryan up but that didn't mean it was intentional. Soon after I saw the black flag come out for Jason and I saw RD's half-ass retaliation afterward. But that turn I saw Jason stop in did jack up quite a few guys so I'm not sure you can say Lawrence did that on purpose.
I know that Ryan's dad went into Jason's semi after practice looking to have a few words (if you've ever seen Ryan's dad, even his "words" with you would probably scare the beejeezus out of anyone) so the Dungey camp obviously felt strongly that there was a problem. Jason would be pretty dumb to go out there and screw with Ryan with everyone watching him, being on parole and all that but he's shown in the past that he doesn't always think things through so who knows? One thing I do know is that tensions are high and people are on edge which makes for great theater. Add that in to the new 2010 AMA policy of overreaction and lemme just grab some popcorn…
This just in. If you listened to the Moto Show last night you heard a caller call in and ask about Ryan Morais riding the 450 at Daytona. To which special guest Kenny Watson (manager of the Hart & Huntington team) say that it would never happen and he would pay the dude $500 if it did. Then he basically belittled him to my amusement.
Well, Watson better get ready to pay up because it looks like Ryan will be riding the 450 at Daytona and maybe some more races.
Davi Millsaps was flying in the second practice session, he was on fire and he set the fastest time. With his riding style and the way the track was, it was a match made in heaven. Unfortunately, his time had no chance to hold up as the track alterations made the next practice almost two seconds quicker. The next practice he was second quickest but shortly after he went down and sat on the side of the track for a while.
I know that he has a bad shoulder and I guess he bruised the other one in this fall. It's never a good thing going into a 20-lap main with a couple of banged-up shoulders. He also led the first couple of laps and if he hadn't gone down, I was thinking that maybe this Creatine-less Millsaps could put the smack down on everyone again. Alas, it was not too be, he put up a good fight with KW but eventually dropped back to fourth. Then he went down again and that allowed an already catching-him Justin Brayton to get that spot. Rough night but for those few glorious laps in the second practice, he was impressive.
I really like Hawaiian pizza. I don't really eat it all that often but whenever I do, I always think to myself that I should order it more often. It's really good.
I really like Justin Brayton. Whenever I watch him ride and perform well, I think to myself that I need to write more about him. But then, like the Hawaiian pizza that I don't order that much, I don't write much about him. This weekend in Indy he rode his usual smart (and fast) race and capitalized on Millsap's late fall to move into fourth. He's really been doing well this year in his first 450 season. And that's all I'm going to write about him as I guess I still haven't learned my lesson.
Let's take a look at the top 20 from each class with a few smart-ass comments about selected riders:
1 1 Christophe Pourcel – CP's real secret to winning? His Scott goggles must be red and a blue lens that is not available to the public. That must be it because riding four times before Indy can't be the secret , can it?
2 45 Austin L Stroupe- Stroupe was definitely the second fastest guy all day to CP. Should be interesting if they ever get into a battle because there's no love lost between the top two guys.
3 17 Justin L Barcia- I've spoken and Twittered enough about my man-crush on JB.
4 46 Ryan Sipes
5 24 Brett Metcalfe- Metty did pretty good considering he cased the crap out of a triple in the heat race. Good ride for him.
6 108 Dean A Wilson
7 41 Kyle J Regal- Was fast in practice but didn't get the start he needed to. He'll make some podiums shortly.
8 341 Nico A Izzi- I dunno, I just expected more. How about you guys?
9 577 Martin Davalos
10 65 Troy K Adams- I asked Troy after the race how it was and he said "Hey, someone has to get tenth!" I suppose that's a good point.
11 66 Blake Baggett- Blake and Futrell got lost a bit this off-season with all the tough times teams were having. He did well for his sx debut.
12 40 Jake Moss – Good to see Mossy back on the track after a serious arm injury.
13 412 Levi Kilbarger
14 69 Adam B Chatfield
15 64 Taylor C Futrell
16 92 Michael L Willard- Two-time Canadian champion is still out there and going fast.
17 61 Vince A Friese- Vince and Cunningham got together late in the race and it knocked them both out of the running.
18 32 Kyle B Cunningham
19 211 Tevin N Tapia
20 613 James A Decotis- Led the heat race for a little while.
1 2 Ryan D Villopoto
2 5 Ryan M Dungey
3 14 Kevin W Windham- KW was great, he put up a good fight to stay in the lead. The track was perfect for him and his riding style.
4 23 Justin D Brayton
5 18 David D Millsaps
6 67 Chris Blose- Great career best ride for Blose. He was steady all night.
7 8 Grant Langston-Good solid ride from GL. That's a season high for him and maybe better things await GL on the east side.
8 27 Nicholas A Wey- I thought Nicks ride this weekend was better than his holeshot and lead two laps San Diego one. He was fast and steady all main event.
9 75 Joshua R Hill- Hill was off all night and couldn't seem to move forward like usual. Oh well, a crappy race was bound to happen for him at some point. Now, he needs to come back at ATL strong.
10 338 Jason D Lawrence- Nice to see Jason put in twenty laps and get a result. Anything would have been nice at this point. The next goal? Having team manager Chris McAvoy not talk to ref John Gallagher all weekend.
11 9 Ivan Tedesco- Slowed right down to a crawl at one point in the main looking down at his bike. Then coming from last to 11th once his mind was at ease.
12 57 Jarred Jet Browne
13 26 Michael Byrne
14 55 Kyle P Chisholm
15 47 Matt Boni
16 10 Thomas K Hahn
17 62 Jason W Thomas
18 195 Billy R Payne- Good to see Billy bringing the Payne to his competitors.
19 122 Dan Reardon- Reardon DNF'd when he went down and tweaked his already tender knee.
20 38 Trey G Canard- Rode pretty well in his 450 debut but went down off the dragon-back and knocked the wind out of himself. In talking to wrench Gothic Jay, he mentioned that Trey grips the bike much harder with his knees than Shorty. With Andrew it was the grips that needed changing all the time and with Trey, it's the graphics and seat cover.
Once again the parade lap sucked. Not sure if someone killed Dungey, Hill and RV's cat but they rode around out there like it was a funeral procession. Someone needs to get upside down and get the crowd into it. Or Feld needs to get MC back out to throw out a Nac-Nac because nothing, absolutely nothing, got the peeps into it like that.
Saw Reedy there with a headset on helping out the guys. Good to see Chad come out to the races and just hanging out because trust me, Indianapolis in February is not the ideal place that Reed would pick to go to just hang out. I can just imagine his riding advice to Wey and Villopoto. "Yeah, I'm not sure why you're struggling with that section. Maybe you should gas it more you pussies."
Ryan Sipes of the Motoconcepts Yamaha team was certainly a surprise this weekend. We all know Ryan is fast but always seems to get hurt and lost in the shuffle. In his heat race he was going the same speed as Pourcel on his way through the pack and in the main was third for pretty much the whole race until getting jacked by a lapped Adam Chatfield. Adam admitted after the race that he thought Ryan was actually Vince Friese and did indeed race with him. Because of the confusion and the bobble by Ryan, Barcia snuck by for the final spot on the podium in the last straight.
Still it was a great ride by Sipes and good to see him up there. Now he just has to keep it up and we'll be all good.
Dean Wilson made his professional sx debut for the PC team and I think he got better every time he went out on the track. Wilson had a pretty big contingent of Canadians come down to watch him and probably bring him some Tim Hortons as well. We Canadians are pumped about Wilson and wholeheartedly back him in his quest to become the first hoser AMA champion.
I think he did pretty well with his sixth (despite his pant buckle breaking and sending his pants falling down) although he was bummed out afterward. You can read THIS interview I did with Dean after the race.
I spent a good amount of time after practice and before the night show hanging out with Larry Brooks, Josh Hill, Jimmy Button and the L&M Yamaha crew where we discussed a bunch of things that I can't talk about. I know Button reads this and I know that he thinks I will talk about the stuff but this is to just show Red Button Seven that I won't.
A lot of people will talk about the lappers and how they affected the race but I say that part of that is the track design that didn't offer a lot of opportunities to get by guys. And some of it is also the AMA track marshals and their insistence on throwing the blue flag a good half-lap before the leader is coming up. If you do this over and over, soon the guys getting lapped start not believing you that they need to move over right away. Then when you combine that with this weekend's track, you get guys being a problem.
Yeah sure lappers are usually somewhat an obstacle but do you think that having them play such a vital role this weekend was just coincidence? It's the track people!
I spoke to Pourcel's agent, Russ Stratton, this weekend about the media and the role they play in the sport. He was none too happy with Racer X's David Pingree writing that Christophe doesn't like Americans and said that you can't write that because it incites people. I like Russ and think he does a great job but can't we all just not take everything so literal. The rest of the paragraph went on in a satirical manner and we all know Ping and the way he writes.
Russ admitted that he's obviously biased towards his client but he felt that the message board people would take this and run with it. To which I replied who cares? Here's the thing about the message boards that 3/4 of the industry (and some real higher-ups) need to realize. It's an amazing small percentage of people that actually go to the races, there are people on there that would argue that the sky isn't blue, more of a shade of turquoise.
So my message to any team manager, rider, magazine editor, industry person is please, please don't make any blanket judgments on your business from a message board. Read them, enjoy them and take them for what they are. Which is entertainment.
That's all I got from Indy, make sure you tune in next week for all the dirt from the A.T.L. I still don't have a TWMX email but hopefully somebody, somewhere is working on it for me. In the meantime, email me at email@example.com and we can chat.