BTOSports.com Observations from Steel City

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Photos by Sean Bowker

We’re getting near the end here folks, the AMA national motocross series is winding down with the penultimate round taking place in Delmont, PA, at the Steel City National. Steel City isn’t the best of tracks (although to my absolute amazement, the mighty Jean-Michael Bayle has named it his favorite track on the AMA circuit. First with me and then I read it somewhere else. So with that in mind, the track is definitely one of the best ever in the world. Pardon me.), but it’s pretty technical with the off cambers and the viewing is great. The town of Greensburg is nearby and there are plenty of Starbucks around.

So maybe it’s not that bad!

Trey Canard has been on a roll of massive proportions lately and his late season charge to try and win his first-ever National title is an impressive one indeed. Canard swept both motos at Steel City but it wasn’t easy by any means. The points leader Christophe Pourcel tailed the #38 both times and in the second moto, was all over Canard the entire race. It was a great ride by both of them, Canard could not make even one mistake or Pourcel would get by. There wasn’t much to separate either guy, about the only difference is that Trey started better both motos and that was what he needed.

So Canard made up six points on the Frenchman and going into the final race this weekend, the gap is seven. For those that are mathematically challenged, if Trey goes 1-1 again and Pourcel goes 2-2, Pourcel will still win the title. No matter what happens, both guys have shown that they are deserving of this crown and let’s get it on at Pala this weekend!

Trey rode a fantastic race on Saturday, but what was even better was what he did off the track.
Trey rode a fantastic race on Saturday, but what was even better was what he did off the track.

After the first moto the Steel City crowd voiced its displeasure at Pourcel for…well, for riding his ass off to get second and being French (somewhere out there, Jame Stewart is thinking he knows the feeling). That wasn’t cool by no means but I suppose it’s a fans right when they buy a ticket to say what they want on the other side of the fences. In a real cool move, when it was time for Canard to get mic time, Trey told the crowd to not boo Pourcel, he’s riding as hard as anyone out there and that it ain’t cool. Second moto, there was no booing whatsoever. I’ve been out to dinner with Trey, his mom, and his brother a few times now this season (because, well, we all know who is super-trainer is) and I keep looking for this real mean guy to come out and show his true side but nope, it’s quite possible that Canard might be the nicest guy out there.

If Andrew Short re-signs with Honda, the Honda pits will be filled up with nothing but puppy tails and rainbows all season.

Ryan Dungey clinched the 450 title last weekend at Southwick, which was no real surprise. His incredible rookie 450 season continues to amaze, astound and astonish but what might be the most amazing this year was that he immediately DNF’d the first moto after clinching the title. Look, you make your own luck, hard work equals good luck, whatever cliché you want to use is fine with me but there’s no doubting that The Dunge has had his share of fortune in 2010.

His crash in the first moto caused a front brake failure and forced him out. His competition just sighed and wondered why the motocross gods were so with the 5. After all, his only bad fortune all year comes in the week after he clinched his title?

So with the number 5 out, that opened the door for the forgotten one, Kevin Windham to go out and ride like the old Kevin Windham, not an old Kevin Windham. Remember KW dusted off the boots to fill in for the injured Davi Millsaps and really, whatever he did was a bonus to himself and team Honda.

He was on the Pulpmx Show saying that he just wanted to make the box at some point in his return to the Nationals. He did come back last year on a 250F at Unadilla and a 450 at Budds Creek but that wasn’t the Kevin Windham that we really know, in fact, he told me he would prefer to not talk about those rides so with that in mind, Windham rode his first National since ’07 and won the overall on the day.

His 1-2 moto scores (the Dunge came out and handily won the second moto just like he’s done all year) got him his first National win since Unadilla 2007. He asked me if he was the oldest rider to ever win a National and to be honest, I don’t know. I would bet he is.

Let's hear it for KW, one of the heroes of the sport. There wasn't a dry eye in the house.
Let's hear it for KW, one of the heroes of the sport. There wasn't a dry eye in the house.

Great job by the 14 and the sport of motocross is indeed an up and down one as last weekend I chronicled Honda’s disastrous day at Southwick so it’s only fair that I point out that at Steel City the Red Riders rebounded with a great day. They finished 1-2-3-4 in the first moto (KW, Metcalfe, Short and Townley) and on the day they took 1st, 2nd, and 4th overalls and won the 250 class. I mentioned this to Team Manager Eric Kehoe and he laughed and said, yep that’s the way things work out.

When walking in on Saturday morning, I saw Windham and we made eye contact. Then we walked into the pits together like buddies. Well, except for when he said that sometimes I write real “douchy” things and our “buddy-ness” was quickly ruined. I asked why and he said it had to do with what I wrote last week about him not being able to win the sx title and how he’s shopping around for a ride next year. I expressed disbelief that GEICO and Honda wouldn’t quickly get the most popular rider in the pits signed asap but I suppose these are the times we live in.

I explained that I didn’t think he could win the SX title next year but in the other stuff category (fan support, PR, still relevant and fast and all that) Windham is the leader. He’s great for a team and once I mentioned my point of view, we went our separate ways (me to get coffee from Kawasaki and him to go to riders meeting). A few minutes later he came back, explained that maybe he took it out of context and that he hopes I see his side. Which I did and we got back to being buddies (well, maybe I’m using that term loosely). I appreciate KW talking to me honestly about something I wrote and we talked it out. I wish more riders would do that.

Want to hear what KW, Justin Brayton, Nick Paluzzi, Jeff Emig, Trey Canard, and Jason Lawrence thought about their races? Click HERE.

I found a rare photo of Ben Townley's black cloud. He's not happy...
I found a rare photo of Ben Townley's black cloud. He's not happy...

Justin Brayton and Steel City definitely go together, this outdoor season hasn’t been what Justin or his team JGR Yamaha thought it would be. Brayton racked himself up before the season started and has been playing catch-up ever since. Remember last year he came out and won the last moto of the year on a KTM at this track? Well he obviously agrees with it as this weekend he was like a different guy, got great starts, ran up front and ended up third overall. Why can’t he be a top five pretty much all the time? He’s got the talent, the bike and the work ethic, I see no reason why he can’t. But then again, I see no reason why the Raiders can’t win the Superbowl this year.

One year after his last race, Tim Ferry was honored by the nice folks at MX Sports by giving him a lap around the track where he finished 12-7 last year on his Kawasaki. This of course was accomplished with an injured heel that, if he were a race horse, would have caused him to be put down. Yes, I just said that. So despite that aliment, Ferry rode out the string and then tried to get healthy to race again. When the injury wouldn’t let him ride at the level he wanted to, he packed it in. As his mechanic for four years at Noleen and then factory Yamaha, I’ve become friends with the guy (as some of you may know) and it was cool to see him and his son Evan do a lap for the fans.

Unfortunately security prevented me from running onto the track, pushing his kid off the bike and getting on it with Timmy.

Years ago Beeker from Fox borrowed a Sharpie pen from Ferry at a supercross because James Stewart needed one. Ferry gave Beeks the pen but said he wanted it right back as he needed it to sign autographs as well. Well, Beeks never came back with the Sharpie and then Ferry had to deny some kids his signature which made him mad at Beeks. In fact, it made him surprisingly mad at Beeks and we laugh about it to this day. It was only fitting that at the official end of Ferry’s career, Beeks presented Timmy with the Sharpie that he took from him all those races ago. And then they hugged it out. I might have made that last sentence up.

250

1 38 Trey Canard Shawnee, OK, US Honda CRF250R 1 1 50
2 377 Christophe Pourcel Marseille, FR Kawasaki KX 250F 2 2 44
3 28 Tyla Rattray Durban, ZA Kawasaki KX 250F 3 4 38- Ho hum, just another podium for The Styla. Combined with Dean Wilson’s bad day, Rattray has a good hold on third in the points going into the last race.
4 243 Eli Tomac Cortez, CO, US Honda CRF250R 4 5 34- Eli quietly had a good day and showed some promise.
5 20 Broc Tickle Holly, MI, US Yamaha YZ 250F 7 8 27- Thank god Tickle is back and he can break up the Pro Circuit/GEICO Honda train that happens every week. At least until next year when he joins PC.
6 17 Justin Barcia Ochlocknee, GA, US Honda CRF250R 10 6 26
7 21 Blake Wharton Pilot Point, TX, US Honda CRF250R 9 7 26
8 49 William Hahn Decatur, TX, US Honda CRF250R 5 11 26- Wil continued his strong performance back from injury. He also breaks up the PC/GEICO train…until he goes to GEICO Honda next year.
9 108 Dean Wilson Glasgow, GB Kawasaki KX 250F 17 3 24
10 36 Darryn Durham Butler, PA, US Honda CRF250R 8 10 24- Durham did well with a top ten and I wonder what he’s doing next year. I think that Star Yamaha gave up on him a little early and he just needs a bit of consistency to step it up to the next level.
11 577 Martin Davalos Quito, EC Yamaha YZ 250F 15 9 18
12 942 Gareth Swanepoel Hechtel – Eksel, BE Yamaha YZ 250F 13 12 17- I don’t think that factory Yamaha’s grand poobahs had 10-11-12 finishes in mind for their official 250F team when the season started.
13 50 Alex Martin Millville, MN, US Honda CRF250R 12 13 17
14 200 Cole Seely Newbury Park, CA, US Honda CRF250R 11 15 16- Seely was up front for a long time in one of the motos before coming together on the losing end with Tomac.
15 341 Nico Izzi St. Claire, MI, US Yamaha YZ 250F 6 36 15
16 603 Tommy Weeck Menifee, CA, US Honda CRF250R 14 14 14- Weeck “weecked” his motor in practice and was at the factory Honda truck trying to get a motor from someone. Obviously, he found one.
17 87 Les Smith York, SC, US Honda CRF250R 36 16 5
18 211 Tevin Tapia Federal Way, WA, US KTM 250 SX-F 19 18 5
19 714 Shawn Rife Springfiled, OH, US Kawasaki KX 250F 18 19 5- Rife has been winning races in Canada all summer and showed up to see what he could do in his homeland. He came from the back in one moto to score some points.
20 310 Shane Durham Butler, PA, US Honda CRF250R 16 24 5- Yes, he’s Darren’s younger brother. And this was his first pro motocross race. Pretty good methinks.
21 92 Michael Willard Thornville, OH, US Honda CRF250R 21 17 4- Mandingo forever!
22 244 Ryan Zimmer Raleigh, NC, US KTM 250 SX-F 27 20 1
23 731 Steve Roman Apollo, PA, US Yamaha YZ 250F 20 28 1
24 90 Willy Browning Pleasantville, OH, US KTM 250 SX-F 23 22 0
25 613 James DeCotis Deabody, MA, US Honda CRF250R 25 23 0- Jimmy D is better than this, wonder what happened?
26 64 Taylor Futrell Clinton, NC, US Honda CRF250R 28 21 0
27 498 Cody Robbins Huntersville, NC, US Kawasaki KX 250F 24 27 0
28 348 Jason Brooks Niantic, CT, US Kawasaki KX 250F 26 26 0
29 172 Jeffrey Gibson Blacklick, OH, US Honda CRF250R 22 32 0- Was this THE Jeff Gibson? I never noticed him there and I think THE Jeff Gibson can score some points under normal circumstances.
30 678 Nicolas Myers Cairo, GA, US Honda CRF250R 31 25 0
31 521 Kyle Gills Wiggins, MS, US Yamaha YZ 250F 29 31 0
32 285 Tony Archer Clinton, MD, US Suzuki RM Z250 30 33 0
33 565 Preston Mull Livingston, CA, US Honda CR250R 34 30 0
34 558 Dylan Slusser Butler, PA, US Honda CRF250R 32 35 0
35 505 Sean Lipanovich Cairo, GA, US Honda CRF250R 40 29 0
36 354 Christopher Johnson Ramona, CA, US Suzuki RM Z250 33 37 0- Johnson had a sweet looking RMZ 250 as his frame was powder coated yellow. That looked really cool I thought.
37 175 Phillip Nicoletti Cochecton, NY, US KTM 250 SX-F 37 34 0
38 370 Drew Yenerich New Lenox, IL, US Yamaha YZ 250F 35 40 0
39 185 Killy Rusk Aztec, NM, US KTM 250 SX-F 38 38 0
40 990 Ian Joseph Trettel Silver Springs, FL, US Suzuki RM Z250 39 39 0- Welcome to the pros! Trettel went down hard in the first moto and looked to be in some pain.

Who's 68? It's Bobby Kiniry! And he's been doing well since coming down from Canada.
Who's 68? It's Bobby Kiniry! And he's been doing well since coming down from Canada.

450

1 14 Kevin Windham Centerville, MS, US Honda CRF450R 1 2 47
2 24 Brett Metcalfe Mannum, AU Honda CRF450R 2 3 42- Metty had another great day and is really coming on late in the year. But…he still needs that win. Sweet Jesus, when is it going to come?
3 23 Justin Brayton Ft. Dodge, IA, US Yamaha YZ 450F 5 4 34
4 29 Andrew Short Smithville, TX, US Honda CRF450R 4 5 34- Shorty had a solid day, I think he was pissed about it as he split really early. He usually hangs out and says hi to every fan in the pits. I also think he’s hurting a bit.
5 800 Mike Alessi Victorville, CA, US KTM 350 SX-F 7 7 28- A 7-7 day for 5th overall is pretty lucky for the 800.
6 5 Ryan Dungey Belle Plain, MN, US Suzuki RMZ 450 40 1 25
7 817 Nicholas Paluzzi Riverside, CA, US Yamaha YZ 450F 10 8 24- Look at this great result by a kid straight out of the amateur ranks. Paluzzi charged hard through the pack on his JGR Yamaha. Kudos to him and kudos to JGR for giving a kid a chance.
8 55 Kyle Chisholm Valrico, FL, US Yamaha YZ 450F 14 6 22- The Chiz had a scary crash in the first moto right after the mechanics area. He had some bruised fingers and handlebars in his lap but he ended up 14th. Second moto he was at his usual pace and got another impressive sixth. A few weeks ago he was in a battle royale with Ryan Sipes and Kyle Regal for top privateer in the series but he’s got a bit of a cushion now going into the last race.
9 68 Robert Kiniry Syracuse, NY, US Suzuki RMZ 450 9 11 22- Great result for Bobby, I feel like I should just have a sign on y neck that says “Number 68 is Bobby Kiniry” because I must have been asked that a dozen times in two weeks.
10 101 Ben Townley Taupo, NZ Honda CRF450R 3 37 20- Did Ben show great speed? Yes. Did Ben once again get visited by his black cloud? Yes. A broken nose in a first turn crash after a podium was the result of the visit.
11 27 Nicholas Wey DeWitt, MI, US Kawasaki KX 450F 13 10 19- NYK’s got a chance at getting top 10 in the points. Not what he wanted, but hey, small victories.
12 42 Ben Evans Boise, ID, US Kawasaki KX 450F 12 12 18- This was, by far, Ben’s best finish of the year and it’s about time for this guy.
13 46 Ryan Sipes Vine Grove, KY, US Yamaha YZ 450F 6 19 17- Sipes was on fire in the first moto and came blazing through the pack from fifteenth to sixth. He had the fourth fastest time in the moto and rode really, really well. Second moto Sipes suffered a huge heartbreak when, after coming from 12th to sixth yet again, he crashed with two laps to go. Man that sucks. His potential 6-6 finishes would have gotten him fifth OA.
14 26 Michael Byrne Queensland, AU Yamaha YZ 450F 8 18 16- YES! Finally we see a good ride from Byrner. An eighth in the first moto was the start of the baby steps back to the top where he was last year. But then he crashed in the second moto and the bad luck continued.
15 35 Matthew Goerke Lake Helen, FL, US Yamaha YZ 450F 18 9 15
16 292 Austin Howell Red Bluff, CA, US Suzuki RMZ 450 11 16 15
17 63 Sean Borkenhagen Huntington Beach, CA, US Kawasaki KX 450F 19 14 9
18 43 Steven Clarke West Midlands, GB Suzuki RMZ 450 35 13 8
19 338 Jason Lawrence , US Yamaha YZ 450F 28 15 6- Oh man, how tempting it must have been for Jason to pull off in the first moto after crashing a few times and ending up way back. But to his credit he didn’t and then did fairly well in the second moto. More baby steps with him…
20 529 Lowell Spangler Lebanon, PA, US Kawasaki KX 450F 16 20 6- Spangler is a kid from PA who has been consulting with Ferry on things racing and how to be awesome in life.
21 122 Daniel Reardon Queensland, AU Yamaha YZ 450F 15 34 6
22 58 Weston Peick Wildomar, CA, US Yamaha YZ 450F 21 17 4
23 621 Billy McKenzie Kawasaki KX 450F 17 36 4- Billy Mac ate poop in the first turn crash with BT in the second moto and I think he broke his collarbone. So much for the fill-in for Kawi…next?
24 351 Shane Sewell Westville, IN, US Yamaha YZ 450F 20 30 1
25 520 Tony Gallo Valley City, OH, US Honda CRF450R 23 21 0
26 251 Joshua Clark North Franklin, CT, US Honda CRF450R 22 23 0
27 69 Adam Chatfield Menifee, CA, US Kawasaki KX 450F 25 22 0
28 241 Derek Anderson Arvada, CO, US Kawasaki KX 450F 24 26 0
29 606 Ronnie Stewart Easton, PA, US Suzuki RMZ 450 26 25 0
30 702 Cameron Stone Chattanooga, TN, US Kawasaki KX 450F 29 27 0
31 167 Ryan Mills Clintondale, NY, US Honda CRF450R 33 24 0
32 261 Jacob Morrison Waream, MA, US Honda CRF450R 30 28 0
33 881 Jerry Lorenz Morrice, MI, US Kawasaki KX 450F 32 29 0
34 652 Dustin Pipes Fresno, CA, US Suzuki RMZ 450 27 35 0
35 140 Johnny Moore Madison, MS, US Honda CRF450R 31 33 0
36 134 Travis Sewell Westville, IN, US Yamaha YZ 450F 37 31 0
37 801 Jeff Alessi Vitorville, CA, US Yamaha YZ 450F 38 32 0
38 73 Ben LaMay Anchorage, AK, US Yamaha YZ 450F 34 40 0
39 10 Thomas Hahn Decatur, TX, US Suzuki RMZ 450 36 39 0- Bad day for T-Hahn. A crash left him hurting badly and his up and down year continued.
40 41 Kyle Regal Kemp, TX, US Honda CRF450R 39 38 0- He’s not as up and down like this guy though, Regal went down hard first moto and sat out the day. Regal’s either on and does very well or, as his nine motos with no points attest to, he’s off in a big way.

Erin Bates begs me for my room number. It didn't work.
Erin Bates begs me for my room number. It didn't work.

I saw Austin Stroupe there but I couldn’t be sure if it was him or not. Like a mirage in the desert he was there…I think. Stroupe certainly had a good Supercross season, but it’s hard for guys like him who don’t race any of the Nationals. They kind of get forgotten in the mix for rides the next year but if Stroupy’s been keeping in shape and doing the right things during this off time for him, I really think someone’s going to get a good rider very cheap.

The pits were definitely abuzz with the talk of Suzuki’s team manager Roger DeCoster announcing his departure from the yellow crew and signing with KTM for next year and beyond. There was a definite sense that the Suzuki guys are going to be worse off and the orange team just got a huge boost. For a long time, KTM has lacked the leadership that is needed to be a top destination for riders. When I was there, it was pretty much a gong show as far as leadership, got a little better with Larry Brooks (until Europe and America started overruling LB) and then with the merger with MDK, things went a little south again.

I haven't run a photo of Bryner all year but he had a good first moto and I like the dude. An eighth is all I need to put him in here!
I haven't run a photo of Bryner all year but he had a good first moto and I like the dude. An eighth is all I need to put him in here!

Roger’s arrival will solidify things over there and I would bet a lot of money he’s not the only yellow shirt wearing guy to end up over there. Let’s hope that KTM USA and KTM Europe stand back and let Roger manage. I bet they will.

There was a Honda CRF150 race there for the Red Riders top amateur kids to show their stuff. I heard some people refer to it as the “Cooper Webb Showcase” race as the young amateur kid is a rising star in the sport. JGR does the motors and suspension for this Loretta Lynn’s winner and early on he was checking out for the win before he got a flat tire and was forced to pull out. That’s, like, a total bummer man.

Thanks for reading, shoot me an e-mail at steve@pulpmx.com and we can talk all about stuff.