Just when we thought the 2011 Monster Energy AMA Supercross Series was tapped out of drama and suspense, the Jacksonville Supercross set a new precedent, throwing a gigantic monkey wrench into the points chase in both classes. Villopoto and Brayton fail to make the 450 main, Baggett and Anderson fail to make the Lites main, both Stewart brothers fail to finish a full lap of their respective main events, the carnage on the track was overwhelming…
Jacksonville's stadium is huge, to say the least. It seats around 80,000, so the fan fare that showed up to take in the racing action didn't exactly pack the house. Despite the somewhat small crowd, however, the racing action was unrivaled.
Blake Baggett has dreamed of racing a Pro Circuit bike as long as he can remember, and now that he has the great opportunity, he has taken full advantage of the guidance coming from owner/manager Mitch Payton.
Just when we thought we'd seen all the drama Jacksonville had to offer, James Stewart and Matt Goerke wadded exiting the first turn of the main event. Stewart hobbled, then crawled off of the track before collapsing in pain. He was carted off the track by the Asterisk Medical Unit, but according to the JS7 camp, he will be racing next weekend in Toronto despite being incredibly sore and banged up.
Austin Stroupe was back in action this weekend, and the young Valli Yamaha rider looked pretty fast, although he did have a few miscues in practice while trying to throw down a fast lap. In spite of that, he finished the night in eighth place.
We've seen tuff block covers get stuck in wheels, rotors, chains, etc., but it is rare that the block itself gets stuck. Tye Simmonds found out that they can, indeed, find their way into the inner workings of the bike. The entire block got lodged in between his forks and frame.
We spotted Christophe Pourcel strolling through the pits this weekend in Jacksonville. Officially, he is still shopping for a ride, but we know he has been riding a Kawi courtesy of his friend Mitch Payton. We hope to see him this season in the outdoor series.
Opening ceremonies always treats the crowd to a parade lap by the top 450 points contenders, but we'd have to say the whips over the triples were less than astounding. Luckily for the crowd, Trey Canard made up for it with a nac nac, which he is now routinely throwing out before racing starts.
Malcolm Stewart started his night with a holeshot in his heat race, but his luck faded from there. He rode a solid heat race and qualified easily, but when the main event came, he experienced the worst of the sketchy right-hand start. He, along with a couple other riders including Gannon Audette, piled up in the rhythm section just after the first turn.
Blake Baggett's nightmare started right here, when he came into this left-hander before the whoops a little too hot, taking out Justin Barcia with him in their heat race. Barcia was able to get his bike going and get back onto the track in qualifying position, although he was docked two positions for re-entering the track in better position than he stopped forward progress. Baggett, on the other hand, could not get back into the top eight before the checkers flew. He finished 11th and was forced to the LCQ.
Pro Circuit's Blake Baggett wasn't the only one to miss out on the Lites main event. Rockstar Suzuki's Jason Anderson failed to qualify for the main as well. Both riders fell in their heat race, then again in the first turn of the LCQ, forbidding them from catching either of the final two qualifying positions.
Davi Millsaps rocked some new spring Shift gear for the night's racing. We've heard great things about Shift's new line, and if Chad Reed's 2011 gear is any indication, we have heard correctly.
Dean Wilson kept the Pro Circuit Kawasaki in the spotlight, winning his heat race and finishing a solid second behind Justin Barcia in the main event. Baggett's misfortune, combined with Wilson's solid ride has put Deano in third place in points, just ahead of his teammate.
You would think this would be a shot from the main event, but crazy circumstances led to only number 22 crossing the finish line in the main event. After all of the excitement, Villopoto has only a seven-point advantage over Chad Reed. James Stewart, however, now finds himself in fourth overall.
Alessi had his best supercross showing in recent memory after winning the holeshot in his heat race. He led for a quite a few laps and even held off the advances of Ryan Dungey for a time before the defending champ finally took control. Alessi lost much of his time in the whoops and the rhythm section just before the whoops. Overall, he rode quite well.
The Asterisk Crew knows what's up.
Justin Brayton suffered a hefty get-off on the first lap of his heat race after a miscue in a rhythm section. He joined Ryan Villopoto in the LCQ and was pushed wide in the first turn along with the 450 points leader. Neither made the main event.
The Monster Energy AMA Supercross Series has its title and supporting sponsors that support the entire road show, but individual stops on tour usually have some regional sponsorship as well. Two of Jacksonville's big supporters are Metro PCS mobile services and Taco Bell. What we wouldn't do for a hot sauce costume. We can only assume Ivan Tedesco made an attempt to steal it off this guy's back at some point in between practice sessions.
Kevin Windham logged his best finish of the season in Jacksonville with a fourth place in the 450 main event. He picked off Ivan Tedesco just before the midway point, and set his sights on Andrew Short. Shorty just couldn't hold K-Dub off in the whoops. Windham carried better speed through the giant, rough whoops to take control of fourth and didn't look back.
Sweet backpack, Sorby. When's the yoga class?
Mike Alessi had a return of sorts. He won two holeshots, both in his heat and in the main event, proving once again that he is dangerous off the line. In fact, KTM nearly made a 450 holeshot sweep in Jacksonville. Andrew Short was just edged out for the holeshot by James Stewart in his heat race.
Darryn Durham made his return to racing this weekend after breaking his foot at the East Coast Lites opener in Houston. He had a great showing in his first ride back finishing sixth in the main event. If he gets back to 100% soon, we may just see him on a podium before this season is over.
Carey Hart was on hand at Jacksonville Supercross. One of Florida's major powersports dealers is a supporter of the Hart & Huntington race team, so Carey came out to show his own support in return.
Blake Baggett went down in the first turn of the LCQ, and from our vantage point, it looked like he may have grabbed too much front brake. Since the start straight led into an atypical right-hand turn, riders did not have their right foot free to press the rear brake pedal. Blake washed out the front end and immediately hit the dirt. To make matters worse, he could not get his bike started for nearly an entire lap.
Monster girl. No caption necessary.
Justin Barcia is pumped. He now has two wins and a 17-point lead in the East Coast Series heading to Toronto this weekend, where he captured a win last season.
It's the cliché starting line shot. Kinman climbed up into the stands to get a better vantage point of the Lites main event start, but it proved to be unnecessary. That said, we had to run a photo to give validation to the daunting task.
Trey Canard was scrubbing the triple next to the whoop section so hard that he knocked a tuff block and the Nuclear Cowboyz warning light clean off the jump face with his rear tire. It was awesome.
Since Jacksonville is in relative proximity to Chad Reed's home, the whole fam was on hand to show support for TwoTwo Motorsports team owner.
Monster Energy paid homage to the late, great Andy Irons with some custom plate backgrounds. You are missed, Andy.
Former teammates and fellow Jacksonville winners Trey Canard and Justin Barcia shared an embrace after Trey sealed the win. Honda has to be pumped on their sweep of the class wins.
And the award for best pick-up kit of 2011 goes to… Luis!!!
Luis even has a pick-up kit entourage.
The suspension giant Showa, also showed support for Japan by having stickers made and stuck them to forks of supported bikes.
Darryn Durham looked good on the bike, but it's hard to tell if he is back a full capacity. We think he is only going to improve as these last few rounds unfold.
The right-hand start claimed victims every time the gate dropped.
Many of the riders had a tough time with the Jacksonville track, and Chad Reed and Kevin Windham offered their insight during track walk. Generally, the AMA and Dirt Wurx are pretty receptive to the riders, especially veterans like Reedy and K-Dub.
Regardless of the absences of Stewart and Villopoto in the main event, Trey Canard still would've been a favorite after his performance in his heat race. After a dismal start, Canard battled all the way back to the front in a few short laps, turning in a 43.9 second lap, the fastest of the entire day by anyone.
The Honda pits featured some custom stools made of handlebars, gripper seat covers, and number plates.
Scott hooked up the DNA/Star/Yamaha team with some custom painted lids for their hometown race. We liked the combination of clean white and graff-style paint.
See you next week...