Welcome to this week's column, as you all know there was a supercross in Phoenix this past weekend but there wasn't much to talk about. A first year 450 guy won his first race, no one named Reed or Stewart were on the podium and there was a bike pushed over in the pits afterwards. I guess other than that stuff, not too much going on. Nothing really to talk about right?
Let's get to the track first. I thought it was pretty good and flowed better than last week. The dirt used to be sweet in Phoenix but in recent years, it's gotten a little harder and slick. There were two sections of whoops and they were big and nasty. They gave the Lites guys fits all day and killed momentum for those that entered them meekly.
In practice there was a table to table section after the second triple and the first guy to jump from one to the other was Austin Stroupe (?!?) then James Stewart. After the practice was over, there were a couple of knuckles added to make it easier and less deadly. However, even with the knuckles installed on the top, that didn't stop Andrew Short from eating pooh in the second practice. Shorty bruised his ass/tailbone and toughed it out all night.
How about that Ryan Dungey? No doubt inspired by his appearance on last weeks MotoworldRacing.com Moto Show, The Dunge went out there and captured his first career supercross win as he grabbed the holeshot and led all twenty laps. Great job by him and clearly, in case you didn't think so after last week, he's for real. He set the second fastest time of the day in practice and schooled everyone in the main. He did have a bit of pressure from Ryan Villopoto in the middle of the race but eventually pulled away and won by six seconds. He's also now your series points leader for reasons I'll explain later.
It wasn't entirely perfect for Ryan though as I really didn't like his gear at all. I'm just not big on the floral/aquarium prints that seem to be the rage these days.
I must not be very important to the Dungey crew as I was hanging out after the race with another media member from another website other than this one (I can't tell you his name but it rhymes with "Sweege") and his phone rang with an invite from someone in the RD5 camp inviting him to the Hilton Dungey-winning-celebration. My phone, however, never rang. No matter, I won't hold it against anyone.
So what in the hell happened to our two superstars? The ones that we all expected to see do battle for the win every week? Well, they did battle, but it was for ninth in the main event. James Stewart and Chad Reed both got off to mid-pack starts and were moving forward when they collided in a turn and it ended both of their nights really. Stewie was way back and Reed pulled out with a possible broken hand.
Whose fault was it? Well depends on whose camp you were in. Opinions swayed widely from Reed went in and took Stewie out to Stewie cut down early and should've known better because Reed was there. David Vuillemin was telling me after the race that, as a racer, you see James cutting down early in that corner and you know that's his line. So why charge up the inside (like Reed did) knowing that it's going to result in a collision?
The other side is where I'm leaning towards, Justin Brayton and Davi Millsaps looked like the both bobbled in the turn and James had to brake a bit early. Reed was using his normal inside line, came in a bit hot and collided with Stewie. He seemed to check up a bit but it was too late. They both went down in a heap and the combined incomes lying on the ground at that moment in Phoenix, Arizona was a little shy of the amount Tiger Woods gave his wife in hush money.
As usual with these two, they can't even crash together and have it be a normal situation. While on the ground, Reedy pushed James' head in what could've been interpreted as:
1- "Please get off me, I've possibly broken my hand and need urgent medical attention." This is what Kawasaki wants everyone to believe.
2- "I hate you, you hate me and I have a chance right here to give you a cheap shot after I took you out so how you like this?" This is what San Manual Yamaha would like everyone to believe.
3- "Man, this sucks. We've got to get up and get going. Oh, what do you know? James Stewart is right here on top of me, allow me to push off while I have a chance to." This is probably the most likely thought that went through Reed's brain.
And for that Reed was fined by the AMA but that was appealed by Kawasaki on the grounds that it was an innocent accident and around 4 in the morning on Sunday, it was decided that Kawasaki was right and the fine was rescinded.
And if that wasn't enough, immediately after the main event James decided to go ask Chad what the incident was all about and maybe he was planning on just hugging it out, I'm not really sure. We never got a chance to figure that part out because when James rolled up, Reed was in the medical unit getting looked at and wasn't around. So in lieu of hugging it out, James simply pushed the #22 Kawasaki off the stand and attempted to get into the Kawi truck to beat Chad down.
According to eyewitnesses, Stewie's new manfriend, Eric Sorby, stopped him and calmed the situation down. And I don't mean the dude from Jersey Shore. It's hilarious to me that Sorby was the calming influence as last summer he wanted to beat the whole Kawasaki team up at one time or another and got warned during the nationals to stop going by there and threatening the staff. This whole thing is slipping into some sort of SNL skit I think.
And there was no doubt that James Stewart was there as he got sloppy and left some evidence behind. A pair of Oakley crowbar goggles with tiny little "JSE" logos on the white frame were left on the scene. This column is starting to sound like Forensic Files I know, next up-carpet trilobal analysis.
According to the official I spoke with, Stewart received a "stern warning" to not go into anyone else's pit and jack with their machines or try to beat anyone up. That seems to be ok by me I think.
Oh, the reason Stewie was in ninth during the main event was because he absolutely ate poop in the heat race when he scrubbed a triple a little too hard, moved over in the air on privateer Kyle Partridge and got landed on. It was ugly and I bet he's banged up and hurting bad today. We'll see how his injury affects him from here on out.
So to wrap this whole thing up, Reed has a possible broken hand and may miss some time, Stewie has jacked up ribs/body, he's 16 points down in the points and probably isn't going to be 100% for a while, Kawasaki needs to change the right grip after Stewie pushed Reed's bike over, they also need to find a rider and Ryan Dungey is looking incredible. Whew!
I was talking to Reed earlier in the day and asked him what happened to his usual great starts last week in Anaheim. He explained to me that the Kawasaki is more of a rear traction bike and he has to really focus on leaning forward and keeping weight on the front end as opposed to his Suzuki which he said tended to light the rear wheel up after letting the clutch go. He said he figured it out in Aussie and maybe forgot last week about the Kawi starting technique.
After a series of pretty ho-hum heat races and one main event, the 250 class main in Phoenix provided some great racing without all the drama of the 450 guys. Blake Wharton holeshot and led for twelve laps. Ryan Morais came up and finally, after doing just about everything he could do short of gang-tackling a tiring Wharton, got by and led for two laps before getting passed with one lap left by Jake Weimer. Weimer took the win followed right behind by Morais. Jake Weimer led only one lap of the race but it was the most important one.
So Weimer's two for two so far and looks to be on top of his game. He's got that look of a champion because what title winners do is still win even when they don't have their "A" game. Jake admitted on the podium that he was fortunate to win the race and now has an eight point lead. It bummed me out that on the podium Jake thanked pretty much everyone in his life except his ace tuner, Shawn Irwin.
Ryan Morais has done pretty much everything he can do to win his first main event but keeps coming up short. Kind of like his brother in-law (Andrew Short) in the 450's. He looked great the entire race and after crossing the finish, he looked skyward towards the heavens asking the moto gods for some sort of help to win the big one.
Wharton looked to get a little tired in the main but he really blew it on one lap when he lost three seconds off his usual time and allowed everyone else to catch up. He still put in a great ride to get the final spot on the podium despite being hounded at the end by a once-again strong Will Hahn.
Hahn has to be the mild surprise of the 250 series so far but before you award him the "New Fast Guy" award of the 2010 250 West series, you have to remember that last year in the east coast Will came from the back a bunch and even recorded a second place at Jacksonville. In short, he was underrated fast and this is what I wrote about him after J-Ville last year:
"Hahn has to be one of the favorites next year in whatever series he does. He's been strong all year, like a top-five guy, and then in the last two he's been at the front. He just made some small mistakes while in the lead in Jacksonville and then probably realized he was leading and got more nervous. His finishes were 6-6-15-5-5-DNQ-6-2. Take away that DNQ and he probably finishes third in the series."
Luckily for TLD Honda and manager David Pingree, Will was left scrambling for a ride and came to the team cheap. TLD's other rider, Cole Seely, also had one of his best rides of his young career in getting a 6th. The Hondas of the TLD team seem pretty stinkin fast as well which no doubt helps out quite a bit.
Because most results that you see out here on the World Wide Web don't include the entire main event, I'm going to try and list the complete results from both races each week.
1 12 Jake T Weimer
2 116 Ryan Morais
3 21 Blake Wharton
4 49 Will A Hahn
5 20 Broc Tickle –Great ride coming from 10th for Tickle, he's going to make the podium soon.
6 200 Cole Seely
7 38 Trey G Canard- Canard went down in the heat and was forced to ride the LCQ. He was in third early in the main before fading in a very un-Canard like fashion. Must've been banged up still.
8 19 Tommy Searle – Wore my gear again this weekend. The No Fear orange stuff.
9 68 Robert S Kiniry –Came from 15th to get top ten. His starts have abandoned him.
10 175 Phillip J Nicoletti – Nicoletti's been very good so far on the privateer KTM. He sits in 12th after two rounds. Good for him.
11 585 Travis A Baker – I knew nothing about this dude before A1. He's had a good start to his rookie sx season.
12 321 Gautier Paulin
13 801 Jeff Alessi
14 124 Ryan D Clark- RC rode great this weekend and it's weird to see him without a national number.
15 48 Max Anstie
16 63 Sean D Borkenhagen
17 42 Ben D Evans
18 102 Christopher Gosselaar
19 592 Jake M Canada – Got to LOVE his last name. I'm a fan already!
20 100 Joshua Hansen
1 5 Ryan M Dungey
2 2 Ryan D Villopoto
3 75 Joshua R Hill
4 9 Ivan Tedesco- Quiet 4th for Tedesco, good ride and lost in all the drama. Good to see.
5 29 Andrew T Short
6 14 Kevin W Windham- Good ride for KW coming from the back. Could've punted Millsaps a few times but was being kind.
7 45 Austin L Stroupe- Stroupe's been great, his starts are awesome and he's been fast. Sketchy but fast.
8 23 Justin D Brayton
9 18 David Millsaps- Sigh…still waiting. His last three laps were brutal as he went from .55's to .58's and .59's.
10 10 Thomas K Hahn- I don't know what it is but the Rockstar Suzuki bikes don't do much for me. J-Law Racings Yamahas however, are sweet.
11 921 Manuel Rivas Gomez – Remember him from a few years ago? He's from Spain and a top rider over there. He's got some supercross skills.
12 55 Kyle P Chisholm – His debut ride for the Rock River Yamaha team and The Chiz rode awesome. Look for him to be switching teams for A2.
13 27 Nicholas A Wey- If the rains hold off, look for NYK to get a little help from DV12 this week in an effort to move up into the top ten.
14 62 Jason W Thomas- Das champion of Germany comes back and has nice showing for his first race. Usually big whoops equal struggles for the tiny one. Not this week.
15 1 James M Stewart
16 67 Chris Blose
17 876 Cyrille Coulon- I don't even know who this dude is. I think he's French but really, who knows?
18 8 Grant Langston- Crashed hard early on and just rode around. Hey, he finished!
19 22 Chad Reed
20 26 Michael Byrne
Looks like Michael Byrne is going to move over to the JGR Yamaha team for the remainder of the supercross series starting this weekend in Anaheim. I didn't think this deal was going to happen as I couldn't understand Byrner burning (get it?) his sponsors for only six, seven races but it looks like it's going to be for the full year and a dude like Michael can't pass this chance up.
Sucks for me and my EKS(X) Brand goggle building job as Byrner was our guy running the product but maybe Coy Gibbs can take some time off from blasting 13 year-olds on Halo to ask team sponsor Oakley if they will allow Byrne to wear X-Brand. After all they did it for Nathan Ramsey last year…
The other team JGR rider, Justin Brayton, has been quiet both weeks. He's put in a workmanlike effort and is probably learning a few things out there as he goes along.
There was a cool sand section in Phoenix but it quickly became apparent that the riders could only come into it from the outside so it turned into one line pretty quickly.
Ryan Villopoto grabbed the second spot in the 450 main. He was creeping up on Dungey around the mid-way point of the race before making a mistake in a section and riding it out for a second and now, second in the series. RV's just going to get better and better and in yet even more trainer silly-season news, he dropped Jeff Spencer a little while ago. Remember I was going to bust out a trainer/rider chart for all of us to follow a while ago? I may have to get that going again.
Check out my post-race interview with RV right HERE.
Poor Josh Hansen, he deserved a better fate in Phoenix. Little Hanny, on his redemption 2010 tour, was the fastest qualifier during practice, won his heat and grabbed the holeshot in the main. It was all looking good for the one hundred until he hit Wharton in the second turn and flew off the track. There went any chance of him winning or at least making the podium. That's two main events and two first lap crashes for Joshua.
He actually missed a few laps getting looked at by the docs before re-entering the race a few laps down. Give him credit as he rode alongside an entire whoop section and his "things are tough and I want to quit" gene was attempting to come out but he suppressed it and rode the rest of the race, even posting good times on his way to a dead last finish (he did miss some laps so what can you expect). There is NO WAY that he can just pull off the track on the PC team and I think he knows that. He's going to get some podiums here shortly.
Hansen got into a bit of hot water with THIS appearance on a Phoenix TV morning show (stay through the jump) and had to apologize to Feld and Payton for saying the wrong thing on a live TV show. Oh and he called me a "douchebag" on DMXS last week.
I knew from the very first practice session that Josh Hill was going to be fast. You can just see guys when they go out for their very first time if they have it or not and Hill had "it." He seemed to be enjoying himself and figuring out the sections fast. His bike looked to be set-up for him as well. In the main he rode to a lonely third place
Stewart missed the third practice session for some reason. As usual, the rumors covered everything from upset stomach to the official Yamaha reason which was "he felt comfortable enough" with everything that he simply decided to skip it. Yeah, sure, hey whatever helps you sleep at night.
For some reason I didn't think James looked as good in practice as he normally did. He looked to be just riding and not bending gravity like usual. Maybe I was drunk but that's really what I thought.
I wrote a little story about Honda and its lack of dominance in recent years right HERE but I guess the Red Rider guys didn't appreciate it. Man, I don't know I thought that if you read it, it was a fair look at a team that used to be able to buy whomever/whatever it wanted and now can't. It certainly was nothing to get upset about in my opinion but as we all know, in the sport of professional motocross, no one can even agree on the horoscope.
Speaking of Honda, Andrew Short had a pretty uneventful main event as he finished a solid fifth. He was catching up to Tedesco at one point but couldn't finish the deal. Shorty's just doing what Shorty does. Which is put in great, quiet rides as he had to have been in some discomfort all night after his practice crash.
Last week, I wrote that it was a good move by the AMA to hire Tim McAdams as the new technical director but in no way was that a slam on the old technical director Dave Dye. Yes, it may have read that way but that's neither my feelings nor the feelings of the TWMX crew.
Yes, Dye made me type that. Sorry Sheriff!
Saw the great Canadian hope, Dean Wilson in Phoenix and everything is looking to be right on track for the first ever Canadian supercross champion this year when the series heads east. And by that I mean Dean-O has no earrings, long hair, blinged out watches or tattoos. He's keeping it low-key.
His mechanic and former Blackfoot Honda rider, Paul Perebijnos, made me beam with pride as the "Matthes Mechanical Legacy" remains strong. Paul used to race pro and told me this weekend that, when he out at Ferry's practicing one time back in the day, I was there and taught him how to wash a bike properly. He went on to say that he still uses my advice to this day and I like to think that if Wilson wins the title, I'll have a small piece of it.
Perebijnos didn't say that he used any other advice from me and I'm certain that if he read THIS story, he would immediately disavow even knowing me.
Matt Boni didn't make the main event again but he's riding well, he's just had some bad luck and people crashing into him that has prevented him from his usual rides. Hopefully he's not getting down on himself because the speeds there and it'll come together for him soon.
Thanks for reading and you can email me at firstname.lastname@example.org if you would like to get something off your chest about this wild and wacky weekend in Phoenix. Next up is Anaheim 2 and everyone this weekend was worried about the upcoming rains scheduled to hit the California area. Dirt Wurx even left early to head back to start the build process.