After last week's stop in St. Louis, MO, we have eclipsed the halfway mark for the Supercross season. It is debatable to say if it has been as exciting as years past, as injuries and personal issues have separated the field. But we have been treated to dramatic finishes, intriguing storylines, and the fastest speeds our sport as ever seen. As we come in to this weekend's historic Daytona SX, we saw this as a fitting time to reflect on how the year has gone for the top ten racers in the 450 division.
11. Josh Hansen
Josh Hansen's early season, with its string of top-ten finishes and two consecutive fifth place results (San Diego and Dallas) silenced the Hart and Huntington racer's critics almost instantly. Less than stellar finishes due to bike related issues and an injured ankle have placed Hansen eleventh in points.
10. Mike Alessi
Mike Alessi has never been dubbed a Supercross specialist, but aboard MotoConcepts Racing equipment that he and his father, Tony, have full control over, the California native has made every main event and has shown newfound speed indoors. His fourth place main event finish (Dallas) and San Diego heat race lead are reminiscent of his 2009 season.
9. Davi Millsaps
Though his opening round results (sixteenth at Anaheim) were below his expectations, Davi Millsaps has since begun to find his flow. Millsaps has finished seventh place or better in six of the nine events that have taken place, and his average finish of ninth place mirrors his overall standing in the championship.
8. Brett Metcalfe
Brett Metcalfe has quietly placed himself in eighth place in the overall standings with steady results. The lone factory Suzuki racer has qualified for every main event and finished in the top ten in seven features. His highest finish of the season is fourth place (San Diego), his lowest a fourteenth (Oakland).
7. Justin Brayton
Justin Brayton has shown that he has what it takes to shake up the season, despite injury. He has contested four rounds with a fractured leg (San Diego practice), has topped the charts during more than a few timed practices, finished on the podium (St. Louis), and has regrouped well since his Los Angeles DNQ.
6. Jake Weimer
Becoming the defending champion's shadow has beginning to pay dividends for Jake Weimer. The second year 450 racer has finished on the podium twice (Phoenix and Dallas), led a main event (LA), and on multiple occasions shown lap times that place him within the top five in terms of speed. However, the season has had its share of distress, as the Kawasaki rider has been bumped and banged by racers that are more aggressive.
5. Kevin Windham
2012 is Kevin Windham's eighteenth year as a professional racer, and as it continues, it may become one of the more successful of his career. Though Windham has yet to finish on the podium, the withdrawal of key competitors will undoubtedly move this fan favorite higher in the standings. His fourth place finish in his 201st main event (St. Louis) shows that he still has what it takes to be near the lead if his night goes to plan.
4. Chad Reed
Chad Reed said the he felt the fastest he had ever been over the course of his career in 2012. His battles with Ryan Villopoto (San Diego and Dallas) showed his determination and skill, as he also looked to be the faster of the two on both occasions. Heading in to the East coast, his lowest finish of the season was a fifth (Phoenix), but a violent crash (Dallas) dealt the outgoing Aussie a laundry list of injuries, including a torn ACL and fractured T-6, ended his season.
3. James Stewart
James Stewart has shown throughout the season that he is still one of the fastest racers on the planet. A win (Oakland) showed that when he is "on," he is unstoppable, but Stewart has been off the mark for most of the season. A freak accident (San Diego) left the Yamaha racer helplessly on the ground for the better part of a lap and that, along with uncommon finishes, has played havoc on his season overall. He has been the fastest racer on the track many times, but it often comes as he charges from the back of the field.
2. Ryan Dungey
Ryan Dungey has earned the top step of the podium twice this season (Phoenix and Atlanta), has become a more aggressive racer, and has earned KTM their first American Supercross victories. But he has been off the pace on more than one occasion and has shown that he and KTM still have issues to work out with the all-new machine. Since Atlanta, it seemed that Dungey's season had started an upswing, but as we posted this article, we received word that his season would be halted after a collarbone injury.
1. Ryan Villopoto
It looks as though Ryan Villopoto is on his way to his second consecutive title. His average finish comes out to be 1.9, thanks to his five wins (Anaheim One, Anaheim Two, San Diego, Dallas, St. Louis) and consistent finishes, as he has yet to finish lower than fourth place. With closest rivals Dungey and Reed out and a fifty-three-point advantage of nearest active racer Stewart, Villopoto has made his mark on the year.