Monday Kickstart – Houston SX 2012

Crashes, heated emotions, historical milestones, and some of the best heads up racing any of us have seen in recent memory helped solidify Houston as one of the more memorable races, even if the 450 main event was less than riveting. Most importantly, Monster Energy Kawasaki’s Ryan Villopoto wrapped up the 2012 AMA Supercross Championship four rounds early…yep, four rounds early. He is Falken stoked. In other, less awesome news, both Kevin Windham and James Stewart stacked it up in Houston, but not before putting on a show in their heat race. Windham may be done for the season, but Stewart tweeted that he is scrape-free today and doing better. What else? Scroll down, yo.

Possible little known fact: Houston SX is only one of two cities that were on the original schedule the inaugural Supercross series in 1974. Daytona is the only other venue still on the schedule today, and both have been on the schedule every year since.

 

With warm, humid temperatures, Reliant Stadium offered one of the few actual "Pit Party" areas of the East Coast Series. Everyone seemed to have a pretty Falken awesome time.

 

There is no shortage of space at Reliant Stadium. With adjoining Reliant Park, huge parking lots, and the Houston Texans practice and training facility, the Stadium offers plenty of real estate for the traveling Supercross circus to set up shop.

Early in the day, all eyes were on Kevin Windham, as many consider this a hometown crowd for K-Dub and he is usually super fast inside Reliant Stadium. Living up to expectation, the veteran put on a clinic in both practice sessions, logging the fastest lap in both. His line choices and effortless riding style made it look as if he were riding a different track than the rest of the field.

 

Justin "Foxworthy" Barcia is nearly unbeatable in the East Coast Lites series. We all knew he would be a title contender, but it's unlikely that any of could've predicted such dominance over the rest of the class. Coming into Houston, Barcia had five wins under his belt, and he was confident that win number six would be his by the end of the evening.

 

Since the first round of the East Coast series, the red background has complemented Barcia's Geico Honda. With back-to-back ECL SX titles almost a certainty, Barcia's stock is through the roof, especially considering he will point out of the Lites class after this year. However, we will likely continue to see Bam Bam on a red machine when he graduates to the 450 class.

 

Although the fan turnout was a bit dismal in comparison to past Houston rounds, the die-hard Texas fans still waited eagerly for the pits to open early Saturday afternoon. Well before the designated gate opening, the line formed down the street.
Make no mistake, Houston definitely hosts a strong contingent of pick-up kits. It's no Indy, but the numbers are still strong.

Kyle Cunningham was back on the track this weekend, under the watchful eye of Doc Bodnar. He also took the opportunity to rock some of Scott Sports' latest mid-season colorways.

 

Now that's a Falken promo model.

 

You have to be Falken kidding us? We weren't sure whether to shake their hands, or alert the local authorities.
Ken Roczen debuted the limited edition Fox Houston LE SX racewear this weekend, completing the Red Bull helmet/Red Bull KTM combination. Visit your local dealer as soon as possible, because it is available as of today.

Unit rider Austin Politelli put in a solid performance on his privateer Honda, finishing 12th overall in the Lites main event. He is steadily becoming more comfortable on the Supercross track, so we expect him to continue making main and even breaking the top 10.

 

Red Bull KTM's Ryan Dungey hasn't raced in the last four rounds, but he still manages to hold onto second place overall in the 450 class. Davi Millsaps, however, should take the spot over in two weeks in New Orleans, as he is just one point shy of Dungey after Houston.

 

Although Kevin Windham didn't grace the Toronto crowd with a transfer in opening ceremonies last week, he made up for it with two in the dark in Houston. The People's Champ.

 

Windham continued his gift-giving to the fans with an absolutely epic battle with James Stewart in their heat race. The traded leads countless times, and even after Stewart pushed him high, Windham was not going to let Stewart get away. It all came crashing to a halt, however, when Windham scrubbed the fast triple so hard it ripped his right leg from the peg and he had to fight to correct in the air. A stadium full of fans was never more silent.
After what looked like it could've been an even more devastating crash, Kevin did stand and move on his own power. Favoring what looked like his wrist initially ended up being an injured thumb.
Windham tweeted these two photos of his hand yesterday. Broken or bruised? No official word as of this morning. Keep an eye on his Twitter feed for updates.

No caption necessary.
Red Bull KTM's Ken Roczen scored his first win of the season, capitalizing on Justin Barcia's last lap crash. Roczen joins Barcia and Blake Wharton as the only East Coast Lites race winners of 2012.
Barcia was visibily unhappy with recent mid-week riding buddy Lance Vincent directly after the main event. Barcia's emotions and adrenaline were peaking and it ended up getting the best of him. Reportedly, he ended up being fined $5000 by the AMA for his outburst, but if you happened to watch his post-race interview in "How Was Your Weekend?", you'd probably believe the remorse he feels is far more punishment in his eyes than the cash. Unfortunately, he likely didn't gain any new fans in Houston.

 

Arenacross guru Tyler Bowers had two good practice sessions qualifying eighth overall in the Lites class, but a crash in the start straight knocked him silly, and he was unable to capitalize on his speed on the Houston track.

 

Alex Martin looked impressive in his heat race, dicing it up with Barcia and Roczen, ultimately taking third. He followed it up with a sixth-place finish in the main event. Race after race, Martin continues to look faster and more comfortable on the Supercross track.

Two-time World Superbike champ Colin Edwards was on hand to catch some SX racing. The "Texas Tornado" couldn't avoid a TV interview from Erin Bates. "Can you give me a sound check, Colin?"

 

PGA star Rickie Fowler was also in attendance. In town for the Houston Open, Fowler is a big SX fan. A SoCal native, Fowler and his father are no strangers to Perris Raceway.

 

Brothers James and Malcolm Stewart had sported matching threads in Houston. James was questionable for racing throughout the week leading up to Saturday, and a last-minute decision put James on a plane for Houston. Even through practice, no one was certain if James felt healthy enough to race, although he did qualify third in the practice sessions. Then after a fantastic battle with Kevin Windham and a heat race win, James crashed early in the main event, ending his night.

 

The woes continue for the Hart and Huntington camp. With an already sore ankle, Josh Hansen re-aggravated it, and he was unable to finish yet another race.

Obviously, the biggest news from Houston was Ryan Villopoto's clinching of the 2012 AMA Supercross title. For the first time in history, RV2 secured the number one plate four rounds early. With over 100 points separating him from second place, he can sit back a cruise for the rest of the series. Something tells us, however, he won't be forfeiting any race wins in the coming weeks so easily.

 

A big congratulations goes out to Ryan Villopoto and the entire Monster Energy Kawasaki team.

 

So long, Houston. We are going to miss you.