Race Report: Monster Energy Cup 2012

By Brendan Lutes

Photos by Michael Antonovich

For the second year, racers and fans converged on the intimate Sam Boyd Stadium just outside of Las Vegas, Nevada, to witness one of the most unique races of the year. With three classes competing, three main events in the Open class, and one million dollars on the line, the Monster Energy Cup is easily one of the biggest and most anticipated off-season races of the year.

Last year, numerous riders were out due to injury, allowing Monster Energy Kawasaki's Ryan Villopoto to sweep all three main events and take home the win. This year was a different case, though, as Villopoto, Red Bull KTM's Ryan Dungey, TwoTwo Motorsports/Honda's Chad Reed, Muscle Milk Honda's Justin Barcia, and numerous other riders were prepared to put it all on the line. As it turned out, rookie Supercross class racer Justin Barcia took home the overall victory and the 100,000-dollar purse, while mechanical issues hampered Dungey, and a big crash for Villopoto in the second main caused the defending champion to withdraw from the final main event.

MAIN ONE:

The first main event of the night saw a malfunction of the gate, causing only one side of it to drop and a re-start to take place. Once the problem was fixed, and the pack thundered into the stadium, JGR/Toyota/Yamaha's Josh Grant took the holeshot followed by Red Bull KTM's Ryan Dungey, Monster Energy Kawasaki's Ryan Villopoto, and Muscle Milk Honda's Justin Barcia. On the second lap, Barcia took an unexpected trip off the track as the riders left the stadium, but rejoined the race without any issues. Meanwhile, Grant continued to lead, but just after beginning the third lap, Villopoto block passed Grant to take over the lead while Dungey began to pressure Grant for second. One lap later, Dungey made his move around Grant in the same corner, however, he made a mistake while exiting the stadium, allowing Grant to retake second and Barcia to then get by for third. On the next lap, Dungey tried to reach down at his shifter and pull it up with his hand.

As the laps continued, Villopoto began to open up his lead over Barcia in second while Grant held down third and TwoTwo Motorsports/Honda's Chad Reed fourth. Reed, however, didn't get a good start, but was working his way back up and posting some of the fastest times of the race and made quick work of Grant once he was on his rear wheel. Meanwhile, Dungey had managed to work his way up to third. When the checkered flag flew, Villopoto took the win followed by Barcia, Dungey, Geico Honda's Eli Tomac, Reed, and Grant.

RESULTS:

1. Ryan Villopoto (Kaw)
2. Justin Barcia (Hon)
3. Ryan Dungey (KTM)
4. Eli Tomac (Hon)
5. Chad Reed (Hon)
6. Josh Grant (Yam)
7. Mike Alessi (Suz)
8. Kyle Cunningham (Yam)
9. Jake Canada (Suz)
10. Justin Brayton (Yam)

MAIN EVENT TWO:

The start for the second main of the night saw Villopoto pick back up where he left off in the first race, as he took the holeshot followed by Dungey, MoytoConcept's Mike Alessi, and Reed. On the second lap, though, RV went down hard when his hand came off while entering a corner, causing him to go over the bars and off the track. With that, Dungey took over the lead with Alessi second and Reed third. Shortly after, Alessi made his way around Dungey and into first while Reed and Barcia closed the gap to start a four-way battle. One lap later, Barcia and Reed began to battle for third while Alessi began to open up a slight gap over Dungey in second.

As the laps continued, Barcia managed to pass both Dungey and Reed upon entering the stadium, as Reed also passed Dungey. Soon after, Dungey once again started reaching down at his shifter, as he attempted to salvage positions. A few laps later, Barcia managed to catch Alessi and made quick work of the MotoConcepts rider and took over the lead. Meanwhile, Reed lost the front end in the corner entering the stadium, allowing Grant to take over third with Dungey fourth. Up front Alessi began battling with Barcia, due to the Honda rider taking the longer Joker Lane. Barcia, however, retook the lead one lap later while Dungey adjusted to his shifter issues and made his way around Alessi to take over second. When the checkered flag flew, Barcia took the win followed by Dungey, Alessi, Tomac, Grant, and Reed. Early leader Villopoto finished 12th after coming back from his crash.

RESULTS:
1. Justin Barcia (Hon)
2. Ryan Dungey (KTM)
3. Mike Alessi (Suz)
4. Eli Tomac (Hon)
5. Josh Grant (Yam)
6. Chad Reed (Hon)
7. Kyle Cunningham (Yam)
8. Justin Brayton (Yam)
9. Kyle Chisholm (Kaw)
10. Jake Canada (Suz)

MAIN EVENT THREE:

After his big crash in the second race, Villopoto elected to sit out the final race of the night. Leading the way into the stadium for the start of the final race of the night was Alessi followed by Dungey, Barcia, and Tomac. Just after crossing the finishline, Alessi went down over a berm, giving Dungey the lead and moving Barcia into second with Tomac taking over third. One lap later, Barcia began to put pressure on Dungey for the lead. A slight mistake by Barcia, though, gave Dungey a little breathing room. Meanwhile, Grant held down fourth with Reed in fifth.

At the halfway point, Barcia had manage to catch back up to Dungey and began pressuring him for the lead while Tomac held onto third and Reed moved into fourth. With four laps to go, Dungey took the longer Joker Lane, allowing Barcia to move into first and Tomac second. With two laps to go, Barcia took the Joker Lane option, giving Tomac the lead. On the last lap, Barcia did all he could to catch Tomac for the lead, but couldn't close the gap. When they crossed the finish line, Tomac took the win followed by Barcia and Dungey. For Barcia, second was good enough for the overall victory over Dungey.

RESULTS:
1. Eli Tomac (Hon)
2. Justin Barcia (Hon)
3. Ryan Dungey (KTM)
4. Chad Reed (Hon)
5. Josh Grant (Yam)
6. Kyle Cunningham (Yam)
7. Jake Canada (Suz)
8. Kyle Chisholm (Kaw)
9. Vince Friese (Suz)
10. Jake Weimer (Kaw)

OVERALL:
1. Justin Barcia (2-1-1)
2. Ryan Dungey (3-2-3)
3. Eli Tomac (4-4-1)
4. Ryan Villopoto (1-12-DNS)
5. Chad Reed (5-6-4)
6. Josh Grant (6-5-5)
7. Kyle Cunningham (8-7-6)
8. Jake Canada (9-10-7)
9. Kyle Chisholm (11-9-8)
10. Mike Alessi (7-3-19)

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SUPERMINI RACE ONE:

The start saw Austin Forkner take the holeshot followed by Ashton Hayes in second and Kotaro Takahasi third. On the second lap, Sean Cantrell tried to make a move around Takahasi, but went down one turn later. As the laps continued, things up front began to settle down as Forkner opened up his lead followed by Hayes and Takahasi. At roughly the halfway mark, though, Takahasi had moved into second with Suzuki's Tristen Miller taking over third. Soon after, Takahasi went down in the fast roller section, allowing Miller to take over second and Chase Sexton third. After that, the running order remained the same with Folkner taking the win followed by Miller and Sexton.

RESULTS:
1. Austin Folkner (Kaw)
2. Tristen Miller (Suz)
3. Chase Sexton (Yam)
4. Mark Worth (Kaw)
5. Challen Tennant (KTM)
6. Tommy Maxey (Kaw)
7. Kotaro Takahasi (Kaw)
8. Jeremy Byrne (Yam)
9. Robbie Wageman (Yam)
10. Tanner Stack (Kaw)

SUPERMINI RACE TWO:

The start of the final race saw Tennant take the holeshot followed by first-race winner Folkner, Crown, and Austin Hayes. As they crossed the finish line following the start, though, numerous riders went down knocking many of the frontrunners from race one out of the race. As the laps clicked by, Tennant continued to hold down the lead with Folkner and Crown close behind. Worth, though, managed to pass Crown for third while Folkner did everything he could to make a move by Tennant for the lead. With two laps to go, Folkner made his way around Tennant who then violently went over the bars at the end of the fastest straight on the track. The crash also took Worth out of contention. The crash allowed Folkner to open up a huge lead and gave Crown second while Takahasi quietly moved into third after falling on the first lap. When the checkered flag came out, Folkner took the win followed by Crown and Takahasi. The win also gave Folkner the overall win in the class.

RESULTS:
1. Austin Folkner (Kaw)
2. Joey Crown (Suz)
3. Kotaro Takahasi (Kaw)
4. Chase Sexton (Yam)
5. Bret Welch (Kaw)
6. Brandon Hartranft (Suz)
7. Sean Cantrell (Kaw)
8. Weston Wrozyna (Hon)
9. Robbie Wageman (Yam)
10. Tommy Maxey (Yam)

OVERALL:
1. Austin Folkner (1-1)
2. Chase Sexton (3-4)
3. Kotaro Takahasi (7-3)
4. Luke Purther (12- )
5. Joey Crown (11-2)
6. Tommy Maxey (6-10)
7. Challen Tennant (5-11)
8. Mark Worth (4-13)
9. Robbie Wageman (9-9)
10. Brandon Hartranft (14-6)

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AMATEUR ALL-STARS RACE ONE

When the gate dropped and the pack entered the stadium, Cooper Webb came out first followed by Shane McElrath, heavy favorite Adam Cianciarulo suffered a bad start and was buried back in sixth. Before the first lap was over, McElrath managed to take over the lead when Webb came up short in the first rhythm section. On the third lap, Cianciarulo had already begun to work his way up through the pack and was into third with Webb in second and McElrath leading. With two laps to go, though, AC went down in a corner and dropped back to sixth. With that, McElrath took home the first race victory followed by Webb second, Smith third, Brady Kiesel fourth, Cianciarulo fifth, and Anthony Rodrigues sixth.

RESULTS:
1. Shane McElrath (Hon)
2. Cooper Webb (Yam)
3. Jordon Smith (Hon)
4. Brady Kiesel (Hon)
5. Adam Cianciarulo (Kaw)
6. Anthony Rodriguez (Yam)
7. Paul Coates (Yam)
8. Nick Gaines (Kaw)
9. Cody Gragg (Yam)
10. Keith Tucker (Yam)

AMATEUR ALL-STARS RACE TWO

The second race for the Amateur All-Stars saw Cianciarulo take the holeshot while moto one winner McElrath went over the berm and across the opposite side of the track. Behind Cianciarulo, Rodriguez took over second when Kiesel went down in the corner following the finishline jump. Within the first lap, AC had already opened up a 4.5 second lead over Coates who had moved into second ahead of Rodriguez while Gaines controlled third. With three laps remaining, Coates and Gaines began battleing hard for second. Meanwhile, Webb had quietly worked his way into fifth behind Oldenberg and within reach of the overall win. On the second to last lap, Webb worked his way into third and with it, put himself in position for the overall. When the checkered flag flew, Cianciarulo took the win followed by Coates, Webb, and Oldenberg. With Webb's third place finish, Webb took home the overall victory.

RESULTS:
1. Adam Cianciarulo (Kaw)
2. Paul Coates (Yam)
3. Cooper Webb (Yam)
4. Mitchell Oldenberg (Hon)
5. Daniel Baker (Suz)
6. Nick Gaines (Kaw)
7. Kyle Swanson (Hon)
8. Anthony Rodriguez (Yam)
9. Brady Kiesel (Hon)
10. Jayme Gardiner (Kaw)

OVERALL:
1. Cooper Webb (2-3)
2. Adam Cianciarulo (5-1)
3. Paul Coates (7-2)
4. Shane McElrath (1-11)
5. Brady Kiesel (4-9)
6. Nick Gaines (8-6)
7. Anthony Rodriguez (6-8)
8. Jordon Smith (3-13)
9. Mitchell Oldenburg (14-4)
10. Daniel Baker (13-5)

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