Lucas Oil Stadium in downtown Indianapolis is without compromise. Even from the outside, the edifice complements the cityscape and its industrial, rail station feel. Inside, giant windows shed natural light onto the field (or track, in this case), and spectator amenities rival any sporting stadium anywhere. As for the track, Indy almost always serves up a technical, challenging course, and it is usually crowned with mountainous, intimidating whoops. This year, Dirt Wurx did not disappoint. Huge whoops, tough flat turns, sand, unpredictable soil, and big bowls for passing provided the racers with what Ryan Villopoto described as the most challenging track of the year.
With heat waves on the East Coast, Indianapolis enjoyed unprecedented warm temperatures, allowing teams to pit outside, even though Lucas Oil Stadium has indoor floor space for temporary pitting areas. Geico Honda and Rockstar Valli Star Yamaha still chose to bring their bike staging indoors along with the privateer squads, but the majority of the big race teams chose to stay close to their trucks.
Pro Circuit fully set up shop outside.
Talk of an undefeated season swirled around Justin "Foxworthy" Barcia throughout the day, and many media outlets asked him about it every chance they got. Always confident, Barcia said it would be great and a definite goal, but that riding consistent and maintaining podium finishes was still most important.
After a long-awaited win last weekend in Daytona, James Stewart hoped to ride the fresh momentum to a win in Indy. Focused and poised throughout the day, JS7 took a moment to himself before racing started to clear his mind.
Nico Izzi made his return to racing this weekend, and put in a solid first result. He finished the night with a 10th in the Supercross class main event.
Lites stars Ken Roczen and Justin Barcia spent much of their practice laps racing each other as much as they were the clock. It climaxed early in the day, when during the first seeded practice session, Barcia found Roczen's front wheel in the sand section, sending Roczen to the dirt. Clearly frustrated, the Red Bull KTM rider did remount his machine and continued to practice. Their sparring continued into the second session, although it didn't escalate again.
The Dodge/Hart and Huntington/Sycuan Kawasaki team has endured more hardship than any squad in recent memory. Carey Hart doubled the size of his team for 2012, but ironically he has the fewest number of racers on the track at this point in the season. Josh Hill, Ivan Tedesco, and Kyle Partridge have all fallen victim to injury, leaving Josh Hansen to hold down the fort.
Things went from bad to worse for the H&H team. Riding with an injured foot/ankle, Josh Hansen aggravated it repeatedly in practice and could not race. Now, H&H is down to a single rider in the form of replacement racer, Kyle Regal.
James Stewart was sportin' the dollah dollah bills ya'll buttpatch this weekend on his Answer Alpha Air gear.
We spotted a staffer checking out the latest issue of TransWorld Motocross featuring Malcolm Stewart on the cover (we jump at any opportunity for shameless self-promotion).
James Stewart's crash in his heat race probably wouldn't have had the result it did had he not crashed in front of a group of riders. Kevin Windham was amongst the riders that could not avoid him, smashing the downed number 7 deeper into the dirt. According to the Stewart camp, his head took the brunt of impact(s), and he could not race.
Brett Metcalfe scored a well-deserved heat race win after jumping out to a great start. Good starts have eluded Metty as of late, so his heat race performance was great for his confidence heading into the main event.
In a world of mass-produced graphic'd helmets, it is great to see the recent resurgence of custom-painted lids on the pro racers. Kyle Chisholm and Justin Brayton battled for helmet font supremacy on the line at Indy.
Austin Politelli's Tagger-painted Unit Bell Moto-9.
Privateer Luke Vonlinger pays homage to the classic Paul Newman film. We wonder if he's ever seen it?
Kyle "Three-Six Mafia" Regal took over the reins of the H&H stagecoach. Originally the replacement for the sidelined Kyle Partridge, Regal is basically representing the entire team now that the complete original lineup is out.
Mercedes took a moment away from holding up Monster cans and heat race signs to pose with a YZ250F ready to be given away in between LCQs.
Blake Wharton, along with most of the Rockstar Suzuki team, is race testing One Industries' latest gear innovation, Vapor. The Vapor gear made its race debut back at San Diego Supercross with Jason Anderson. Since then, the team has continued to test it. The pant is a pound and a half lighter than traditional pants made with a lot of TPR and cordura-style fabrics. Obviously built for performance, the Vapor gear is definitely focused on the serious racer more so than the occasional rider.
A closer look at Wharton's One Industries feather-lite Vapor pant.
After Kyle Cunningham wrecked one-third of the way through the Lites main, the race was red flagged for a restart. Instead of a full restart from the gate, however, the AMA induced a staggered start. According to section 4.21 of the AMA Rulebook, in the case that "the race is stopped with more than three laps and less than 90% of the total distance completed by the race leader, (rounded down to the nearest whole number of laps/whether it be a Heat, Last Chance Qualifier or Main Event), riders will be restarted from a staggered standing start in the starting area. Riders will be lined up in a staggered formation beginning on the starting straight at a start line located by the first turn, starting with the rider that was in the first position and continuing back towards the starting area. Riders not ready to take their position in line will be placed last. Once all riders are in position, the starter will display a green flag to signal the start." Ya, we didn't know that shit, either. Until we read it ourselves, we were convinced somebody was making it up as the night went along.
Although it was Ken Roczen and Justin Barcia who diced it up in practice, it was Roczen and Darryn Durham who brought some tension to actual racing. In their heat, the two traded advances, but it was Durham who made it stick with an aggressive pass in a bowl turn. Roczen was none too pleased and roosted him after the checkers. In his post-race interview Durham brushed it off, ""Ya, he seemed a little bummed out at me…but I didn't think it was that bad."
From our vantage point, Justin Barcia appears more focused and driven than ever, and his dominance has only reinforced it. After yet another easy win in his heat race, it looked as though we would see another win toward a perfect season.
Rockstar Suzuki's Blake Wharton is the most consistent racer on the East Coast other than Durham and Barcia. He has finished inside the top five at every round, and claimed a podium spot in St. Louis. It seemed only a matter of time before he would steal a win.
Blake's mother, Elizabeth was ecstatic over her son's win in the Lites main event, as was the entire Rockstar Suzuki team.
Malcolm Stewart gets the accessorize award for Indy. His DC shoes even matched his J-Star pit shirt.
Although Indy SX fell on St. Patrick's Day, few teams or riders went out of their way to celebrate. MotoConcepts, however, dove headfirst into the Irishness with one-off graphics, green JT gear, and even shamrock jersey transfers.
A closer look at the MotoConcepts shroud graphics.
Many of the teams elected to pit out of their trucks even though plenty of space indoors was allotted. The AMA even chose to hold tech inspection indoors.
AnkleSavers and tennis balls... pretty much standard at every Supercross round.
The People's Champ took a hard fall in the main event due to some questionable riding from Mike Alessi. Windham had already been shaken up in the heat race when he crashed into a downed James Stewart, so the second crash could not be brushed off. Windham exited to track on his own power, but he was clearly in pain.
The sand section looked as if it may be one of the equalizing obstacles on the track before racing started, but it proved to be much less an issue than some of the other sections of the track, including the giant whoops that claimed many riders throughout the day.
JWR's Josh Grant returned to racing this weekend, and although he hasn't had much time back on the bike, he still managed to score 11th place in the 450 main event. A few more solid, injury-free rounds, and we may see JG back to the speed he's capable of.
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