Who’s Who for the 2009 Nationals: 450 Class

Supercross is done for the year.  In what was one of the more exciting series we have seen for a long time thanks to the raw speed of San Manuel/L&M/Yamaha's James Stewart and consistency of Rockstar/Makita/Suzuki's Chad Reed.  In the end it was Stewart who prevailed as the victor, but the fact that it did come down to the end was fairly different from recent years.  Reed tailed Stewart by a mere five points heading into Las Vegas and any small miscue would have spelled defeat for James.  However, the number seven machine rode a conservative race for a third place finish and the championship title (he did not crash or stall though, so his record of never losing without crashing/stalling has ended).

With Supercross now dropping away in the rear view mirror, we now look ahead to the summer and the great outdoors: the 2009 Lucas Oil AMA Motocross Championships.  No more ply wood base for the track.  When knobbies break through the upper layer of dirt outdoors, they only hit more dirt.  This means deep ruts, rough tracks, and one heck of a racing series.  The 450 Class (that’s right, finally no more Motocross class) is shaping up to be very exciting, with a large list of heavy hitters, new comers, and some old mainstays. Here is a list of the championship hopefuls for the summer.

Red Bull Honda

#9 Ivan Tedesco: The former two-time Lites Supercross champ and 2005 Lites Outdoor National champ has not had an easy time since moving up to the 450s.  This could be his make or break year outdoors, and if he can get into the right mindset, "Hot Sauce" is easily a podium threat.

#18 Davi Millsaps: Millsaps is an enigma, wrapped in a mystery.  When he is on, he can be the fastest person on the track.  When he is off, you might not even notice him out there.  He will certainly be a contender this year for some wins.  If he can improve his consistency, he may just be a contender for the championship.

#29 Andrew Short: Shorty has been the pleasant surprise for Honda for several seasons as his determination and drive have rewarded the team with numerous podium finishes, and most recently gave them third overall in the Supercross points standings.  Look for Andrew to carry that momentum into the Nationals.

#101 Ben Townley:  2007 was a dream season for the New Zealander.  After winning a Lites Supercross championship in his first try, Townley went on to have one of the best AMA Motocross series battles the 250 class has ever seen with Ryan Villopoto.  Since then, nagging shoulder issues have sidelined Ben, and as the series approaches, their appears to be a dwindling likelihood that we will see him racing this year.

Geico Powersports/Honda

#14 Kevin Windham:  K-Dub has made it clear that he wants to race but it appears that lack of funding may keep the ultra-talented Louisiana native away from the series this year.  Things are still up in the air though, so we will see if there is a big number 14 on the line this weekend.

#122 Daniel Reardon:  The Australian racer came over here last year with a lot of hype, but has yet to deliver.  However, being a bigger rider, moving up to the 450 this should see him moving up the ranks as well.

Canidae/Motosport/Kawasaki

#48 Tommy Hahn:  The elder of the Hahn brothers moved up to the 450s full time for this year.  He seemed to struggle a bit indoors, but do not let that fool you.  The very talented Texan has some good speed on natural terrain and could turn a few heads during the Nationals.

Monster Kawasaki

#2 Ryan Villopoto: As the Supercross season wound down, it was looking like RV may not have been adjusting to the 450 very well.  However, with only three rounds remaining, Ryan clicked off two wins.  Combine that with his three Lites titles outdoors and you can expect to see Villopoto up front every single weekend.

#15 Tim Ferry: Red Dog may be the old man in the class, but he has proven that he can still learn some new tricks, as he has been one of the fastest racers outdoor in the last two seasons.  He is coming off of a broken heel suffered at Daytona, but Tim should be healthy and ready to go on Saturday

Jagermeister/MDK/KTM

#11 Travis Preston:  The other TP has been out since the beginning of the season.  We have not received any word on his health as of yet.

#28 Josh Summey: The quiet North Carolinian had a less than spectacular Supercros season but has typically shined outdoors, with his best finish ever coming at Red Bud last year with a fifth overall.  Look for Josh to come on strong as the Nationals get under way.

#114 Justin Brayton: Justin has been on the pro tour for several years now, and has only increased in speed through the years.  With a few races on the 450 indoors, Brayton has proven he knows how to control the extra horses and will undoubtedly be a threat this summer aboard the formidable factory KTM.

Rockstar/Makita/Suzuki

#22 Chad Reed: With the announcement that Reedy will be contesting the entire outdoor national series, it is anyone’s guess as to what this could mean for the championship battle.  Do not forget that Reed finished second only to Ricky Carmichael in the final outdoor standings on more than one occasion.  This could be Chad’s chance to capture a title that has eluded him so far in his career.

#26 Michael Byrne: "Burner" just doesn't have the best of luck.  Not long after returning from a broken navicular, his old buddy, James Stewart, took out he and half the field out at Daytona.  The incident sidelined Byrne for the rest of the Supercross season but the Australian is healthy once again.  After some very impressive finishes last year outdoors, look for Byrne to step it up again.

#800 Mike Alessi: With all of the hype and talk that has surrounded Alessi for his entire career, one thing has never changed: Mike absolutely believes he can win.  This shows every time he rides a motorcycle.  Coming off of a surprising Supercross series, where he steadily improved and even captured a podium finish, the outdoors is where Alessi thrives. Last year he showed that he can run up front, and you can be sure that he is not afraid to battle with his old amateur rival, Ryan Villopoto.  Mike is definitely a championship contender.

Yamaha

#60 Broc Hepler:  Since 2004, when "Hamburger" Hepler finished second in his rookie year, bested only by James Stewart both indoors and out, the Pennsylvanian has had a tough time staying on two wheel for an entire season.  His speed is undeniable, but this could be a make or break season for the #60 machine.

#75 Josh Hill: Now in his second full season on the 450s, Josh has absolute blazing speed.  During practice sessions, his times are almost always near the top, he just needs to transfer that into 30 minutes plus two laps.  With good starts, Josh can run up front.

Toyota/JGR/Yamaha

#21 Cody Cooper:  The friendly New Zealander was one of the pleasant surprises of 2008 outdoors and ran closer to James Stewart than anyone else did all season at Unadilla, aboard a privateer machine.  Now aboard factory equipment, Cody could be the quiet surprise of of 2009.

#33 Josh Grant:  This year could not have started off any better for Josh. Winning the opening round of the Supercross series in dramatic fashion pushed Grant into the spotlight, and he backed it up with several podium finishes.  Although he seemed to drop off the pace late in the series, look for the 450 class rookie to have some very good rides this summer.

San Manuel/L&M/Yamaha

#1 James Stewart: Although it is highly unlikely that James will compete in the entire series, if or when he decides to make an appearance, he will now be required to rock the red number one plate that he earned in dominating style last year, with a perfect 24-0 win record.  When we find out which races he will be attending we will let you know.  If you have never seen this guy ride outdoors, then we urge you to clear your schedule; it is a sight to behold.

#38 Kyle Chisolm:  It is unknown, what, if any races Kyle will be competing in, but he runs the number 38 plate for a reason: Kyle is a good outdoor rider.  Last year he had some impressive rides, finishing fourth overall at Southwick.   As a bigger rider, Kyle may feel more at home aboard the 450.

Monster/Boost Mobile/ampm/J-Law Racing

#27 Nick Wey:  With more testing and time aboard his new equipment, Nick should be able to improve greatly upon his Supercross season.  With a good start, "NYK" can easily run within the top five.

#338 Jason Lawrence:  Motocross' bad-boy has moved up to the big bikes for this season.  If his second-place finish at Daytona is any indication, the New Jersey native will be a threat for the podium every time he lines up at the gate.  How often he lines up, though, is the big question.  When he wants to race, J-Law is scary fast.  However, when he doesn't feel like it, just hope you're not on his bad side.

Other Players:

Moto Concepts

#13 Heath Voss

#79 Cole Siebler

#801 Jeff Alessi

#911 Tyler Bowers

#979 Ben Coisy

Division Seven/Star Racing/Yamaha

#TBA Lucas Moraes

DNA Energy/BTOsports .com/Butler Brothers' Racing

#45 Jason Thomas

#95 Ben Lamay

Valli Motorsports

#32 Sean Hamblin

#47 Jimmy Albertson

CCRider

#37 Antonio Balbi

ADDITIONAL INFO

WMA Championship

-The women's racing series is now owned and operated by MX Sports.  This means they are now an integral part of the racing schedule at the eight rounds they will be competing at.  Two motos just like the other classes, although it appears they will only be 15 minutes each.

FMF Two-Stroke Nationals

-RedBud – July 4
-Spring Creek – July 18
-Budds Creek – August 15
-Unadilla – August 22

-Glen Helen will also have a Two-Stroke race this weekend, although it is an invitational race, and not a part of the regular Two-Stroke program.

NEW RULES AND REGS.

Class Names

-The Motocross and Motocross Lites class names are a thing of the past.  The premier class is now the 450 Class and the small bores are the 250 Class.  Makes sense doesn't it?

Number Plates

-Current champions must use the number one plate

-Just like the FIM World Motocross GPs, the current points leader for each round is required to have a red background with white numbers for 450s and black number for 250s

-Side panels are mostly free for sponsor logos.  All that is required are small, 3-inch numbers in the lower portion of the panel.

Flags

-In addition to the traditional flags used at professional motocross and Supercross races, a new "Wheels on the Ground" flag will be used.  Instead of flaggers having to wave the yellow flag more frantically to indicate extreme caution, the new flag will be used to clear up any confusion. Quite simply, when the flag is out, no jumping allowed, no matter what.

For more information, check out www.mxsportsproracing.com. They have done an excellent job updating their site and it is very informative for each and every round.