Things Get Very Interesting For Title Contenders
By Brendan Lutes
Photos by Chris Kinman
Round 11 of the Monster Energy AMA Supercross series visited EverBank Field in Jacksonville, Florida, this weekend. Keeping with the rest of the series, the racing action didn't disappoint, and in fact could go down in history as one of the most unpredictable races ever.
In the Lites class, Geico Powersports/Honda's Justin Barcia once again fought through the pain of a broken wrist to take his second win of the season, extending his points lead over Monster Energy/Pro Circuit/Kawasaki's Blake Baggett who failed to qualify for the main event after going down in the first turn of the LCQ. Behind him, Monster Energy/Pro Circuit/Kawasaki's Dean Wilson rode to a comfortable second, while last week's winner DNA Shred Stix/Star Racing/Yamaha's Ryan Sipes took third.
Perhaps the biggest upset of the night didn't even happen in the Supercross class main event, as points leader Monster Energy Kawasaki's Ryan Villopoto failed to qualify for the main after crashing hard in his heat race. He then went on to crash in the first turn of the LCQ and could only climb up to 10th before the end of the race. As it turned out, though, the main event proved to be nearly as exciting and jaw dropping, as San Manuel/Yamaha's James Stewart crashed hard and was taken off the track on the Asterisk Medic Mule. After that, Honda's Trey Canard went on to hold off intense advances from TwoTwo Motorsports' Chad Reed to take his second win of the season.
The start of the Lites main event saw Geico Powersports/Honda's Justin Barcia take the holeshot with teammate Blake Wharton close behind. After the first half lap, though, Monster/Pro Circuit/Kawasaki's Dean Wilson began battling with Wharton, moving past him but quickly getting passed back by Wharton. One lap later, Wilson made the pass stick and began to set his sights on Barcia up front. Behind the top three, Sipes began to put pressure on Wharton for third with Kawasaki-mounted Matt Lemoine close behind in fifth.
Roughly four laps in, Sipes managed to work his way around Wharton for third, and on the same lap, Wharton then went down hard in whoops allowing Sipes some breathing room in third and moving Lemoine up to fourth.
At the halfway point of the race, Barcia's lead was up to four seconds over Wilson in second with Sipes another two seconds back in third. Behind them, Lemoine held down a comfortable fourth. Even as lappers began to come into play, Barcia managed to hold onto his lead over Wilson, while Wilson did likewise over Sipes in third. From there, the running order remained the same until the checkered flag flew at the conclusion of 15 laps of racing. Barcia took his second win of the season with Wilson second and Sipes third; Lemoine and PJ Larsen completed the top-five.
"I had a really tough day today, and I just had to push really hard in the main event," Barcia said following his win. "Those whoops were gnarly. I'm going to go home and build some big ass whoops to practice on."
1. Justin Barcia (Hon)
|Eastern Regional Supercross Lites Series Point Standings (After 5 of 8 rounds)
1. Justin Barcia (116/2 wins)
2. Ryan Sipes (99/1 win)
3. Dean Wilson (97/1 win)
4. Blake Baggett (85/1 win)
5. Blake Wharton (69)
6. Matt Lemoine (69)
7. PJ Larsen (62)
8. Malcolm Stewart (53)
9. Jason Anderson (44)
10. Lance Vincent (43)
When the gate hit the dirt for the start of the SX class main event, it was Red Bull KTM's Mike Alessi rounding the first turn in the lead, followed closely by Honda's Trey Canard then TwoTwo Motosports Chad Reed. Behind them, though, San Manuel/Yamaha's James Stewart got caught up in a major crash in the first rhythm section, effectively ending his night as he lay on the side of the track. He was later taken off the track on the Asterisk Medic Mule. Up front, Canard held onto the lead with Reed staying close in second and Dungey third. Behind the top three, Alessi, Short, and Tedesco engaged in a three-way battle for fourth with Short quickly taking over fourth from Alessi; soon after, Tedesco moved past Alessi for fifth.
Near the halfway point of the race, Canard's lead had grown to four seconds over Reed with Dungey another four seconds back. Meanwhile, Short held down fourth, but with 10 laps left in the race, a hard-charging Kevin Windham made his way around Short and into fourth. As the laps continued, Reed closed the gap on Canard down to less than two seconds, but a small mistake in the very difficult rhythm section that claimed Stewart allowed Canard to open up his lead again. Two laps later, though, Canard made a mistake in the same section, giving up precious time to Reed and allowing him to get within striking distance.
With two laps to go, Reed made a pass on Canard, but Canard block-passed him back one corner later. On the final lap, Reed gave it his all, but couldn't close the gap back up to make a pass on Canard. When the checkered flag flew, Canard crossed the line only 0.8 seconds ahead of Reed. Dungey meanwhile finished a quiet third with Windham fourth and Short fifth. Perhaps the biggest upset of the night didn't even happen in the Supercross class main event, as points leader Monster Energy Kawasaki's Ryan Villopoto failed to qualify for the main after crashing hard in his heat race. He then went on to crash in the first turn of the LCQ and could only climb up to 10th before the end of the race.
The win for Canard helped to bring him to within striking distance of the points lead. "I was excited," Canard said following his win. "I got kind of nervous and saw the board that we only had five laps left. I tried to put on a fight and that was all I could do. Thankfully it paid off. I'm just ecstatic to have two wins this year."
On the podium Reed talked about the intense battle with fellow Honda rider Canard. "I played it smart and Trey was riding a great race. The track was tough and really slick, and I didn't feel like I could make a clean pass. I saw James on the side of the track and Ryan back at the truck, so sometimes you just have to be smart. That's what we all love about motorsports, though, anything can happen at any given time."
1. Trey Canard (Hon)
|Supercross Series Point Standings (After 11 of 17 rounds)
1. Ryan Villopoto (221/5 wins)
2. Chad Reed (214/1 win)
3. Ryan Dungey (203)
4. James Stewart (198/3 wins)
5. Trey Canard (194/2 wins)
6. Andrew Short (145)
7. Justin Brayton (145)
8. Kevin Windham (121)
9. Davi Millsaps (118)
10. Brett Metcalfe (107)