Monday Kickstart – Atlanta SX 2012

Photos by Jeff Kardas and Mark Hector

The on-track action during this past weekend’s round of Monster Energy AMA Supercross in Atlanta, Georgia, was live on SPEED, but that doesn’t mean that was all that went down. The pits were packed all day long with diehard fans, and we managed to round up all the important information in this week’s edition of Monday Kickstart. Enjoy…

For many years, Atlanta served as the opening round of the East Coast swing, but for the past few years it's been the second round out east. In spite of that, though, Atlanta still continues to draw some of the biggest crowds of the entire year. This year the race was completely sold out, and all day long the pits were packed with people.
Here are what the pits looked like throughout the day. Wall-to-wall people made walking around very difficult. On the bright side, it's awesome to see this many people at a Supercross.
The Atlanta track was one of the first true East Coast style tracks and featured clay dirt that is very prevalent out east. Many riders praised the track for it's difficulty, but also mentioned that it was one of the toughest and most technical tracks of the season so far.

 

The track had a long sand section where riders jumped off a single and landed in the soft sand. Here's what it looked like before riders began to tear it up, making it very rough.
Here's what the sand looked like after the racing was all done. Needless to say, it was one of the more difficult portions of the track. During his heat race, Davi Millsaps jumped the furthest into it, landing on the second roller and easily launching 20 feet into the air.

Atlanta marked the second win of the season for Red Bull KTM's Ryan Dungey. It also marked the second Supercross class win ever for KTM. The win tightened the points race up between Ryan Villopoto and Dungey. Dungey now sits only 10 points back in second.
Dungey's mechanic Carlos Rivera was all smiles following their big win at Atlanta and was the first up on the podium for the team photo that you see above.
Following the race, Villopoto congratulated Dungey. In the closing laps of the race, the two got into lappers and RV almost found a way around Dungey, but came up just a little behind when the checkered flag came out.
Here's how close RV and Dungey were on the final lap of the race. A mistake by RV gave Dungey all the breathing room he needed to take the victory.
The Rockstar girls were out in Atlanta, and yes, that is "The Moneymaker" on the right.

The Hart & Huntington/Dodge/Kawasaki team had these tasty treats in their pit area.
Mookie Fever was in full effect in Atlanta and these fans rocked some Malcolm Stewart wigs all day. Unfortunately for Stewart, his night didn't got too well. A very hard crash in his heat race left him walking back to the pits to get ready for the LCQ. Then in the LCQ, starting issues with his JDR/J-Star/KTM that plagued him during the day resurfaced. Mookie couldn't get his bike started and missed the LCQ. He was very disappointed and left the stadium in tears after the incident. Be sure to check out "How Was Your Weekend?" to find out exactly how he felt.
BTOSports.com/Suzuki's Michael Byrne was hanging out in the pits at Atlanta. Byrne suffered a broken vertebra in his neck right before the season began and has been out of action ever since. It was good seeing him without a neck brace on and hanging out with the fans. No word yet on when he will return to action.
JGR/Toyota/Yamaha's James Stewart had an interesting opening ceremonies introduction where he dressed up like Prince and rode out in a Purple Rain jacket. In spite of the quirkiness of the intro, it was well received by the fans.
Stewart finished out the night on the podium, but it still isn't where he wanted to be. Stewart currently sits third in points.

At this point in the season, most riders and teams are simply fine-tuning the bikes depending on the racetrack or conditions. For Stewart and his team, though, they are still making drastic changes to his YZ450F. It's hard to see in this photo, but the front motor mount on Stewart's bike is much larger and rubber mounted. We can only speculate, but it is probably for flex and to help improve handling.
Good friends and teammates, Justin Barcia and Justin Bogle finished on the podium in first and third respectively. Both riders were pumped on their finishes. For Bogle the third place came in only his second ever Supercross, already cementing him as one of the frontrunners in the class.
After a horrible opening round for Monster/Pro Circuit/Kawasaki's Blake Baggett, he finished second at Atlanta. The Kawasaki rider rode well all night but currently sits all the way back in fifth in the points standings, 22 points back from Barcia.
The first Lites class heat race was interesting, as Barcia, Alex Martin, and Malcolm Stewart all crashed while leading the race, and they crashed all on laps two, three, and four. Baggett managed to keep it on two wheels and take the heat race win. In this photo, Barcia picks himself up after washing out in a turn while leading.
Gratuitous Monster Girl photo. We love the Jacuzzi…

A few riders in the Lites class are using these Ankle Savers footpegs. We've tested them and can attest that they actually do work. In looking at these ones, though, we couldn't help but notice the amount of safety wire used to ensure the pin doesn't come out of the footpeg bracket.
Normally we aren't big fans of Fixie bicycles, but we spotted this very cool PK Ripper Fixie sitting near the DC Shoes rig.
Reigning Women's Motocross Champion Ashley Fiolek was on hand in Atlanta signing autographs and hanging out. The WMA series starts in May at the first round of the outdoor series.
Red Bull KTM's Ken Roczen had an embarrassing moment during the start of the Lites main event. A clutch issue caused him to inch forward into the start gate, hanging up his front tire just as the gate was dropping. The result was Roczen rounding the first turn in dead last. Still, the young rider managed to climb his way back up to sixth by the end of the race, keeping himself in the championship hunt.
Here's what it looked like for Roczen as the pack thundered away from him on the gate.

Rockstar Suzuki's Blake Wharton had his best ride yet. He qualified fourth and during the night show, finished fourth in his heat race, started up front during the main event, and eventually finished fourth in the main event. Yes, Wharton is still sporting his trademark hair.
Before the crowds hit, we spotted this dude cruising around the pits on a unicycle.
Durhamtown is a local off-road riding faciity in Georgia. They brought girls. Nice!
In his 18th season, Geico Honda's Kevin Windham started his 200th main event in Atlanta, matching the record of his team manager, Mike LaRocco. It's been a long time coming for K-Dub, and according to him, he still loves every minute of what he does. Windham finished his 200th race in a very respectable eighth place.
MSR made this cool butt patch for Windham commemorating his 200th main event. He only wore these pants in the main event.

Dano Legere made these cool commemorative t-shirts for Windham's 200th main event start.
Like he has done at every race this year, Windham wowed the crowd during opening ceremonies. His transfer this week, though, wasn't nearly as big as the monster 120-foot leap he made last week in Dallas. What made this week's transfer sketchy, however, was the fact that the spot light missed him until just after the landing, meaning he had to make the whole leap in the dark.
Monster Energy Kawasaki's Jake Weimer has been having an excellent season. With a couple podium finishes to his credit, Weimer is proving that he can run up front with the best 450 riders in the world. In Atlanta he finished out the night seventh, and currently sits fifth in points.
100% added rookie Justin Starling to their team, giving John Kuzo (pictured here) another rider to take care of at the races. This week, Starling was filling in for Gannon Audette aboard an unfamiliar KTM 250SX-F.
Cole Seely filled in for the injured Trey Canard aboard the factory Muscle Milk Honda CRF450R, and things went exceptionally well for the young rider. This wasn't the first time that Seely has ridden for the Honda team as he also filled in for Canard last year for a few rounds. At Atlanta, Seely led the first seven laps of the main event before ultimately finishing a very impressive sixth just behind his new teammate and training partner Justin Brayton. This photo was taken just after the start where Seely jumped out to take the holeshot.

The Falken Tires girls were out in full force in the crowded pits.
We noticed last week that the flames on the finish line were replaced with puffs of smoke. This week, though, Feld brought back the flames, which were operated by this control panel. What's Supercross without flames anyways?
We spotted these two signs in the crowd. Which on do you like better? Villopoto's or Dungey's?
Dungey's fan sign.