This week we were in Jacksonville Florida for the Monster Energy Supercross series otherwise known as the Last Man Standing Wins the Title series! Supercross and the state of Florida has always been a hit or miss thing and Jacksonville, in its second year of being in the series, is suffering a bit for the indifference of Florida race fans. Tampa, Orlando, Miami and even Daytona have all suffered from less than stellar attendance and I'm not sure why.
The Jacksonville race last year might have been the best one of the series so theoretically anyone who was there last year would be back and tell some friends right? Well, this year the spectator count was way down again and I can't figure it out. Nice stadium, nice city, the monster truck shows sell out-it all should add up to having great attendance. But it hasn't yet…
But onto the track! I liked it and thought it was pretty cool. To me it looked pretty basic but afterwords, in talking to some riders, they felt like it was challenging to them. The dirt got progressively slicker as the night went on and the jumps were a bit beat up making for some wild adventures out there. The whoops were big and I loved the corner at the end and how it gave the riders options. Protect the inside and struggle a bit getting around the turn or go outside to bounce off the berm but be in danger of a dude hauling ass up the inside passing you. Options are always good!
One thing that did make me go "Huh?" was the big wall before you crossed the start line. Not sure the purpose of that thing as no one passed anyone or did anything different in that spot. I had heard in practice some riders were trying to launch off it but that the tuff blocks were brought in a bit to stop that thought.
One thing that made me go "Wow!" was the massive dragon-back thing they had and the speed in which the top guys would enter into it. One mistake and it was all over but the dudes kept blitzing the things like they were baby-poop.
Ryan Villopoto pretty has to run the table from here on out and hope for some bad luck on Ryan Dungey's part to win the 2010 SX championship. I mean, sure, anything can happen and Dungey could go down in a heap at a race but I would suggest that, based on recent history, Ryan Dungey is the least likely rider to have a bad race. So RV has to win out and needs some luck because with five races left and only three points between first and second, that equals fifteen and the gap is twenty-one.
And we're down one rider that could possibly challenge Dungey in the fact that Trey "Podium" Canard is now leaving the class and going to focus on the 250 west championship. So what a real champion does is rise up under the pressure and make something happen when he doesn't have his "A" game. That's what RV failed to do last week but in Jacksonville he rode great the whole night and grabbed the win.
That's six wins in the series to Dungey's four but the number 5 is in the driver's seat as he has the points lead and it's hard to say if he was really pushing as hard as he could to try and win the thing. Dungey looked to be in cruise control out there and content to not make any mistakes and take what he could get.
So we'll see what we get from here on out. I'm a little bummed that the two Ryan's haven't really gotten into it and battled like we all want them to. It's been a strange series in the way that the two guys that are so close to immortality, riches and glory haven't had a man- a-mano battle yet. I want to see what happens when they're neck and neck down a straight, when they're side by side in the whoops. I mean, we don't have to go all WWF out there but a little animosity would be cool right?
I was speaking to Mitch Payton earlier in the day about his star rider and 250 east points leader Christophe Pource,l and how at last week's race in Dallas it seemed to me that Pourcel was never really on it at any point in the day. He had a couple of crashes in practice and just didn't have his usual savoir faire. Payton agreed with me and said that Pourcel just wasn't happy all day in Dallas but that, here in Jacksonville, he was happy and that it would be a great night.
Well I'll be dammed if he wasn't right as the crafty/slick/sneaky Frenchman qualified second fastest out of everyone and looked to be enjoying his now-home state track. In the main event, he was riding in third behind Brett Metcalfe (who I really, really wanted to win) and Austin Stroupe (who I had called as the winner of this race two weeks and I was now poised to be the new Nostradamus) when he seemed to decide that it was time to lead the race and win.
And he made short work of both Metty and Stoupe and grabbed the lead. It was a ridiculous bit of riding and I noticed that he stayed a little tighter than those guys to make the pass in the corners preceding the actual move. So after a two race slump, Pourcel jets to the top of the field this week although with Stroupe once again getting second, the points lead is only eight with two races left. No time to dilly-dally for Christophe!
Kevin Windham once again set the fastest time in practice, KW really has the whole fast lap thing down pat. He's showing that, despite his age, he can run with the leaders. Well, at least for a lap that is. In the main event KW was doing his thing in third, riding a little safe but still a podium spot on the night is nothing to be ashamed about for any rider. But cue the Jaws music here…
Trey Canard was coming and just typing that makes me feel weird because Trey Canard was playing in a sandbox when KW was the hot young thing that Canard is now. I suppose it's some sort of circle of life thing like in that Lion King movie. So anyways, a little tear fell down my cheeks for KW (and I've been doing that a lot with Tim Ferry and his whole…errrr…situation) because Canard rode awesome to come through the pack and race Windham right to the end.
And in the end, he got him. Like twenty feet before the checkers flew he got him. So Trey Canard makes the podium for the fifth straight time (and in the process, the "d" in the Trey Canard factory Honda 2011 contract was just written) and KW ended up with just a good ride that ended up in fourth. I'm figuring that pass probably cost Kevin around $30,000 (and I'm probably low on that). And a whole lot more in the emotional end of things the next time he watches The Lion King.
Check out this cool look at first lap positions and final finishing positions for a bunch of the top riders in the series. Good job on THIS! We need more of this stuff in our sport and less of the incredibly bad archiving that goes on now. Kudos to the outdoor motocross people on trying to bring some more stats in as well.
I had Austin Stroupe for the win two weeks ago, don't ask me why I said that but I just felt it in my bones. Well, it didn't happen as Austin came up just a little short again in getting second. Again. That's five out of the six races he's scored a second. He's a tick, just a tick, off Pourcel but he's still only eight back with two races left. I really think he's going to kick himself for Dallas when this is all said and done.
We should probably praise Canard even more for what he's been able to do since jumping up to the 450 because guys like Kyle Regal and Ryan Morais are showing that it's not a very easy thing to do. Morais had one good result and then lawn-darted himself in the other two races on the big bike and Regal has only managed to complete three laps in two races.
I really think Kyle Regal will be a factor here in the upcoming races, he's too good of a rider to not be but right now, he's struggling to make it work. After the race I was talking to Michael Byrne and he said that Kyle's first lap crash was ugly as his hand blew off the bar and he went down in a heap.
I spoke a bit with Regal's replacement on the 250F, Kyle Cunningham, and he had nothing but great things to say about the team and the bike. Kyle was very excited about the machine and later on that night, he went on to score a seventh in the main.
Still on the Valli Yamaha team, Ivan Tedesco went out and grabbed the holeshot award. IT can definitely run the pace of the top guys but on this night, he was unable to. He went backwards without much of a fight and settled into his number four spot before getting caught by Canard. Ivan's having one of those seasons where you don't notice him very much until he pulls the holeshot or makes a podium and then you go…"Oh yeah, Tedesco's good!" and then he kinda just rides around for the next few races. It's like every third or fourth race he says "You know what?? I'm a national champion, MXDN hero and a bad-ass…watch this!"
Josh Hill had another off night where he started up front and then faded towards the back. He's still suffering from some rib injuries but now he's able to ride during the week at least. The thing is, he's lost his base from taking time off and getting hurt so it's going to be tough to get anything back before the end of the season. Still there are times that I watch him out there in practice and I'm impressed by his skills. He's got some serious talent and it's too bad he had to go down because I think this thing would have been a three-man race to the end had he not.
I dropped by the L&M truck before the night show to say hi to Larry Brooks and ended up sitting in the lounge for an hour with LB, Hill and others that came in and out. Brooks played the beginning of the Travis Preston podcast to help me realize why Eric Sorby was upset with Preston (TP called Sorby a "potato") and then to point how homoerotic I sounded talking to Preston about a scene in Ghost.
Anyways, it was fun and I tried to explain to Hill the difficult job of being a reporter on the beat in the supercross series but he wasn't having it. It's difficult to point out to someone who I've made fun of here and there that everyone is treated the same (and I make fun of myself more than anyone else) and there is no personal grudges held. Oh well, the crusade continues…
Man, Ryan Sipes got screwed for sure. Just one week after almost winning the whole shooting match, he went down in his heat and was forced to go to the LCQ where he got a terrible start and came from about 341st to third in four laps. He was on it all day in practice also. Sucks for Sipes but in other Ryan Sipes news, I found out that he's riding a 450 in the motocross series.
I found that out because I bought THIS fancy new Podcast recorder thing which allows me to make high-quality recordings and put them directly on the web. I'm going to look into getting some mics and the whole deal and try to do some remote podcasting. So anyways, I whip this thing out and I wish I had a dollar for every time someone asked if it was a taser or a breathalyzer.
You can really tell by the age of the person and what they do as to what they perceive the device to be. Industry people and older people-breathalyzer. Riders and younger people? Taser gun. I did have one rider use the word "Breathalyzer" and that scared me.
Guess who was in the house? None other than your 1997 125 East Coast Champion, 1999 Summercross Champion and MXDN American Hero, Tim Ferry! Good to see Red Dog and his wife Evie there checking out the races and hanging out. At one point we were under the Kawi tent when he asked me to go out to parking lot and tailgate with him and some friends. In all of the things I ever thought I'd hear out of Tim Ferry's mouth at a supercross "Hey, come hang out with me in the parking lot" has to be right below Yamaha's Jim Perry telling me that I'm doing a great job at being Ferry's mechanic.
After he told me that, I went over behind the Kawi truck and got Big B to spray me in the face with the pressure washer. But even that couldn't wash away the tears…
Call me completely nuts but I don't think the Glen Helen thing is dead quite yet. Some powerful people behind the scenes are working hard to make sure that the two sides come together. It might be too late for that though.
My inbox and Twitter account (pulpmx) filled up with people asking me what I thought of this deal with Glen Helen and MX Sports falling apart and it was certainly the talk of the pits this weekend with the riders and teams. It does suck that Michael Byrne has to move a wedding and that Ryan Sipes has a house-boat trip planned that weekend (I know, not on the scale of a wedding but still, it's a drunken house-boat trip! Those are fun.) but the way I look at it is that if anyone out there goes to all 12 nationals, you can see that 11 of them are the same and one is not (isn't that a Sesame Street rhyme?)
Steve Cox told a good story on the Moto Show yesterday as to the above point as well. It seems that when he owned MXI Magazine, he was able to buy a booth at Glen Helen for the magazine when, at that point only Racer X and Cycle News were allowed to vend at the nationals. Now you can argue the pros and cons of selling exclusive media (or anything for that matter) at a series that needs all the exposure it can get but the point is that there were rules and GH just didn't care. (This isn't 'Nam Walter) That basically sums up Glen Helen national and if I was MX Sports and I had everyone on-board and rowing one way but some jack-ass was in the back and rowing the other way, I'd throw them overboard as well.
Right or wrong, we all have to get on-board with one entity calling the shots and just trust that they know what they're doing. That's what I think anyways.
Let' take a look at the top twenty from each class:
1 1 Christophe Pourcel
2 45 Austin L Stroupe
3 24 Brett Metcalfe- Just please win one of these.
4 17 Justin L Barcia- The crazy kid came from the back to get fourth and was on the move throughout the main event. Just can't keep my eyes off him, I'm like some sort of weirdo stalker.
5 613 James A Decotis- Yeah! The New England kid scores his best finish of the series. A true, real, 100% privateer. Maybe not for long though.
6 65 Troy K Adams- Fatty McCheeseburger comes through with a great ride. When there are long and big whoops, T-roy will do well. Stamp it.
7 32 Kyle B Cunningham
8 31 Matthew J Lemoine
9 43 Steven J Clarke
10 79 Justin M Sipes- Pooh puts it in the top ten!
11 64 Taylor C Futrell
12 66 Blake Baggett
13 211 Tevin N Tapia
14 107 Kelly Smith- Yes, that is THE Kelly Smith. A leg injury suffered early in arenacross made everyone forget him but Smith came out for the Honda of Troy team and did what he knows how to do. He grabbed the holeshot on his Eleven-10 mod motor powered by Faction MX. Have I ever mentioned that I worked for Kelly for two years at KTM and “we” brought home the 2000 Mt Morris overall win? No? Really?
15 521 Kyle M Gills
16 412 Levi Kilbarger-HOT rider
17 505 Sean Lipanovich-HOT rider
18 92 Michael L Willard- The fourth member of the HOT team. You can look at it two ways. One is that none of your riders had a good main event or you can point to the fact that you OWNED positions 14-20 in the main event. Blanket coverage man!
19 577 Martin Davalos
20 61 Vince A Friese- Went down early in a scary crash. Hope he's alright. That's two weeks in a row for Friese and the ground coming together.
1 2 Ryan D Villopoto
2 5 Ryan M Dungey
3 38 Trey G Canard
4 14 Kevin W Windham
5 9 Ivan Tedesco
6 18 David D Millsaps- Him and Canard came together in the main and if you ask me, it was a little more than the usual bump.
7 75 Joshua R Hill
8 10 Thomas K Hahn-Hahn rode a great race to get back up to where he belongs.
9 23 Justin D Brayton
10 26 Michael Byrne
11 55 Kyle P Chisholm- The Chiz had a good ride going before he was picked off by Byrne in the last turn. Still, Byrne needed that tenth more than Chisholm did. It's a case of a tenth not being the same for everyone.
12 27 Nicholas A Wey- Saw Rick Asch from Kawasaki coming by and checking with Big Nasty to make sure everything was cool. That's pretty sweet that Kawi is still checking up on Wey after he made the jump back to the Ti-Lube team.
13 47 Matt Boni
14 67 Chris Blose- Blose was higher but dropped some positions at the end when he tweaked an already jacked up ankle.
15 252 Justin F Keeney- Good finish for Keeney, he matched his season best A1 finish here.
16 62 Jason W Thomas- I held my breath as JT and Boni were neck and neck at one point in the heat race. Both guys have had some run-ins and are being watched by big brother.
17 58 Weston L Peick
18 124 Ryan D Clark
19 338 Jason D Lawrence- Jason took Wey out early on the race and it didn't make Nick very happy. I didn't see it but one rider who did said the only thing they thought of was "I guess Jason didn't want to race tonight."
20 41 Kyle J Regal Kemp, TX
I visited the JGR Yamaha truck before practice and was immediately sucked into some MX vs ATV Reflex matches with the guys. I easily defeated team owner Coy Gibbs and driver Tim Dixon before Coy called in a ringer, Michael Byrne's mechanic Alex Ewing, who came in and laid the beat down to me rather quickly before walking out and getting back to work.
Justin Brayton didn't make any friends in the main event with the Rockstar/Hart & Huntington guys when he was coming from the back (as usual) and riding a bit dirty out there. At least that's what the H&H guys thought. Brayton would come from dead last to ninth by the end.
I did have a great Rib-Eye Cheesesteak thing later on under the Toyota awning compliments of JGR. That thing was pretty good!
After my Mike Alessi/Motoconcepts thing I wrote last week, I ran into Mike and Tony at the Las Vegas airport on my way to Jacksonville. Mike's a good dude, I like him and his attitude towards racing and I know he's going to be ready to go come Hangtown. Tony asked me about my story and where I got it from but I really couldn't tell him and he understood that. We exchanged phone numbers and I'm going to try and run some things I hear by him along the way.
Here's the thing that I told Tony when he asked why I didn't call him and ask about the rumors. He's going to lie to me. That's why you can't call anyone in the industry about rumors and such…they all lie! And I'm ok with that, that's how it works. And to his credit, Tony agreed with me. I hope that KTM and the Alessi's can work out whatever problems they have and stick together. That bike is going to be interesting to watch and see just what it can do in the hands of one of the fastest motocrossers in the world.
I'm used to people in the press box who aren't there to report on the races and are just fans. If we just let the media up there, there would literally be about ten of us up there watching the races. This week in Jacksonville though, it was a little nuts. There seemed to be a lot of alcohol drank and the all-out yelling and screaming seriously made it hard to type out the Transworld Race Report. It was like I was at a Lynyrd Skynyrd concert or something. It was pretty irritating really, I'm down with the cheering and all that but some of these hill-billys were a little out of control. What really sucks is one of the guys that films for the series had his laptop stolen while he was down on the floor after the race ended. I hope that guy that took it got run over by a Mac Truck after the race.
That's all I got, thanks for reading and email me at firstname.lastname@example.org and tell me what you thought of the race. Next week I'll be reporting on my Easter Egg hunt and how that went down.