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TEN THINGS YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT DAYTONA: AND NONE OF THEM START WITH “STEWART WINS”

March 9, 2014
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By Jody Weisel

You don’t see riders fanned out across the track, heads bouncing like bobble heads and moist dirt clinging to the their bikes in Anaheim Stadium. Dirt is what dirt bikes are all about—who would have thought it?

(1) THE REAL DEAL: For most of the AMA Supercross season, we watch the races and say “Cool.” Then, we watch Daytona and see what it really could be in a different world. Daytona is the eye-opener of the season. It has real dirt, actually bumps, max traction and flat-out racing. It makes the circus-like jump-fest that Supercross has become look like a poor imitation of motocross. The sanitized stuff they feed us at the other 16 races is motorcycle racing for those who don’t race—and we accept it because it is what they offer up. But, in your heart of hearts you know that Daytona is the real deal. Motocross is about dirt—not air.

DAYTONA IS THE BELLWETHER OF WHAT IS TO COME IN THE OUTDOOR NATIONALS. IT SEPARATES THE MEN FROM THE BOYS, THE BOYS FROM THEIR LUNGS AND THE WHEAT FROM THE CHAFF.

(2) THE FIRST NATIONAL OF 2014: Because it is rough and tough, Daytona is the bellwether of what is to come in the outdoor Nationals. It separates the men from the boys, the boys from their lungs and the wheat from the chaff. Discounting James Stewart’s unfortunate accident, the big players rose to the occasion. Their names are Villopoto, Dungey, Roczen and Stewart. The surprise of the night was Broc Tickle, who kept charging as others wilted.

SO, LET’S NOT CHASTISE MIKE FOR GOING DOWN IN THE FIRST TURN—HE HAS TO PUT IT ON THE LINE IN THE DASH TO THE CORNER. IT’S ALL HE’S GOT TO HANG HIS HAT ON. HE IS THE “HOLESHOT KING.”

(3) JAMES MEET MIKE: Mike Alessi was not to blame for what happened to James Stewart—at least not in the way that he was for what happened to Broc Tickle two weeks ago. So, let’s not chastise Mike for going down in the first turn—he has to put it on the line in the dash to the corner. It’s all he’s got to hang his hat on. He is the “Holeshot King.” With super reflexes Mike shoots into the first turn like his dad is chasing him. But, this time, he overcooked his rear tire and laid it down. Stewie made a quick move to avoid Mike’s bouncing white whatever his team wants to call it—but it is a Suzuki. As Stewart went by Mike’s upright handlebar, it hooked on the Yoshimura Suzuki’s Yoshimura head pipe and smashed it like a titanium grape. Stewart pulled in to have it changed, but he went down a couple laps and ended up 18th. In this one race Stewart lost 22 points to Villopoto. Paradoxically, Mikey only lost 18 points.

BUT, ON LAP 15 HIS HORSE TURNED FOR THE BARN LIKE A RENTAL HAG.

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Dean Wilson (15) was awesome at Daytona. He has potential..although at the moment it is only 15 lap potential.

(4) DEAN’S BAPTISM UNDER FIRE: Dean Wilson was impressive for 15 laps (which is the length of the 250 Main events that he’s used to). But, on lap 15 his horse turned for the barn like a rental hag. Any true racing fan had to be rooting for the kid to hang on to Villopoto until the end, but Dean couldn’t do it. He got zapped by Roczen and Dungey in almost the same straight. Then, he was cannon fodder for Tickle, Short and Hahn. Maybe in the confines of a stadium with artificial bumps and manicured dirt the outcome would have been different, but Dean’s body wasn’t ready to go that pace on that track for that many laps. At least now he knows how simple it is in the 250 class compared to the 450 class.

“HOME BOY SHOULD HAVE CHECKED UP LIKE ANY NORMAL RIDER WOULD DO INSTEAD OF NAILING THE GAS AND MAKING A GOOD PASS GO BAD.”

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There is no doubt that Justin Barcia (51) didn’t T-bone or ram Malcolm Stewart, but he did tuck the front end and fall down in front of him.

(5) BAM BAM AND STEW II: Justin Barcia said after his run-in with Malcolm Stewart that his move was “a 100 percent clean pass. Home boy should have checked up like any normal rider would do instead of nailing the gas and making a good pass go bad.” And what Barcia says is largely true. He didn’t hit Malcolm and was in front of him when the collision happened—except for the fact that it’s not a “100 percent clean pass” when you fall in front of the other rider. As for Malcolm’s actions after the crash, that’s becoming a habit—a bad habit.

DAYTONA WASN’T INTERESTED IN THE “SEX SELLS” APPROACH THAT FELD MOTORSPORTS FAVORS—SO THEY DIDN’T HAVE THE NORMAL SEX KITTEN 30-SECOND BOARD GIRLS OR DIANNA DAHLGREN.

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There are two months left before the 450 Nationals start. Eli Tomac needs to take that time to heal up and get ready for them.

(6) THE WHO DIDN’TS: Eli Tomac didn’t. He crashed in practice and re-hurt the shoulder that kept him from racing at the beginning of the season. Weston Peick didn’t. Weston got hurt during the week and tried to ride practice, but decided that one race isn’t worth aggravating an injury and not being able to race later. Ivan Tedesco didn’t. Tedesco was nursing an injury and elected to pass on the abuse that Daytona could dish out to an injured body. Kyle Chisholm didn’t. A crash during the week had Chisholm bravely saying that he was going to race Daytona if it was humanly possible. It wasn’t. Dianna Dahlgren didn’t. Daytona wasn’t interested in the “sex sells” approach that Feld Motorsports favors—so they didn’t have the normal sex kitten 30-second board girls or Dianna Dahlgren on TV.

IF RYAN FINISHES FOURTH OR BETTER, EVEN IF JAMES WINS THE NEXT SEVEN RACES, VILLOPOTO WILL WIN THE TITLE OVER JAMES. JUSTIN BRAYTON IS ONLY 2 POINTS BEHIND STEWART, SO HE IS IN THE SAME SINKING BOAT.

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Ken Roczen is one of only two riders still within one race of points leader Ryan Dungey.

(7) THE POINTS CHASE: With 7 races left in the Supercross series—there are 175 points remaining for a rider who sweeps the tables. Ryan Villopoto now sits atop the standings with a full race lead on the whole field. That buffer allows him a free “get out of jail free card.” He can crash out of, break down in or go water skiing for one race and still be the points leader. Ryan Dungey and Ken Roczen are one race back, but still in the hunt—because a Villopoto mistake would pull them back to within a few points. As for James Stewart—he is now two full races behind Ryan Villopoto. What does that mean? If Ryan finishes fourth or better, even if James wins the next seven races, Villopoto will win the title over James. Justin Brayton is only 2 points behind Stewart, so he is in the same sinking boat. Everybody outside of Dungey, Roczen, Stewart and Brayton is three races or more back.

IMAGINE A 250 SUPERCROSS SERIES THAT PITTED ALL THE GEICO, PRO CIRCUIT, TROY LEE, STAR YAMAHA AND ROCKSTAR KTM GUYS RACING FOR ONE TRUE-TO-LIFE AMA 250 SUPERCROSS CHAMPIONSHIP.

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Winning at Daytona means that Blake Baggett will be ready for the 250 Nationals.

(8) PRO CIRCUIT PRACTICE RACE: The 250 East is officially weak and strong at the same time. It is weak in that no one can touch the Pro Circuit trio of Adam Cianciarulo, Martin Davalos and Blake Baggett. The green riders look like they are playing with catnip during the race. They traded the lead among themselves before Blake Baggett put it in overdrive and rode away. However, while the other 19 riders in the field don’t seem capable of breaking up the Pro Circuit love-fest any time soon—the PC trio would obviously be able to do some damage in the 250 West. Imagine a 250 Supercross series that pitted all the Geico, Pro Circuit, Troy Lee, Star Yamaha and Rockstar KTM guys racing for one true-to-life AMA 250 Supercross Championship. Imagine all you want, but powerful forces don’t want that to happen.

WORD ON THE STREET IS THAT HE’S STARTED TO TURN OFF THE LIGHTS INSIDE HIS WINE CELLAR TO LOWER HIS ELECTRIC BILL. HE’S WILLING TO RISK GRABBING THE WRONG CHARDONNAY TO SAVE SOME COIN.

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Ryan Villopoto lights one up after a successful night.

(9) THE PAYDAY: Poor Ryan Villopoto. This hasn’t been the kind of year he is used to. He has only won three races so far and may have to go on the chat rooms to see if the fans would cough up enough money to get him to the next race. Word on the street is that he’s started to turn off the lights inside his wine cellar to lower his electric bill. He’s willing to risk grabbing the wrong chardonnay to save some coin. So far, Ryan has only won $62,000 in purse money and $300,000 in first place bonus money. He has to hustle if he wants to keep up with last year’s pace. Ryan needs to win $89,000 more in the next seven races to match the $151,540 in purse money he earned last year. Also, he had ten wins last year, which totaled $1,000,000 in Kawasaki bonuses—he would have to sweep the remaining 7 races to achieve that. As it stands right now, Ryan may not be able to match the $2,250,000 (purse, race win bonuses and $1,00,000 Championship bonus) that he took away from the 2013 Supercross series.

IF YOU DEDUCT THE 15 POINTS THAT JEREMY EARNED AT DAYTONA FROM THE POINTS HE EARNED IN DALLAS, ATLANTA, INDIANAPOLIS AND DAYTONA HE WOULD HAVE 2 POINTS.

(10) JEREMY MARTIN: Jeremy Martin may or may not have Supercross skills. If he does, he hasn’t shown them yet—and we aren’t counting his sixth at Daytona. Why not? Because Daytona is a test of outdoor skills and we know that Jeremy has those. If you deduct the 15 points that Jeremy earned at Daytona from the all points he earned in Dallas, Atlanta, Indianapolis and Daytona he would have 2 points. Perhaps, his Daytona showing will wake him up and rebuild his confidence. If not—the Nationals start on May 24.

DAYTONA SUPERCROSS RESULTS: 450 CLASS

1. Ryan Villopoto (Kaw)

2. Ken Roczen (KTM)

3. Ryan Dungey (KTM)

4. Broc Tickle (Suz)

5. Andrew Short (KTM)

6. Wil Hahn (Hon)

7. Dean Wilson (Kaw)

8. Matt Goerke (KTM)

9. Justin Brayton (Yam) (Suz)

10. Josh Grant (Yam)

Other notables: 11. Wil Hahn; 12. Justin Barcia; 14. Mike Alessi; 18. James Stewart; 21. Malcolm Stewart; 22. Nick Wey.

DAYTONA SUPERCROSS RESULTS: 250 EAST

1. Blake Baggett (Kaw)

2. Adam Cianciarulo (Kaw)

3. Martin Davalos (Kaw)

4. Blake Wharton (Hon)

5. Justin Bogle (Hon)

6. Jeremy Martin (Yam)

7. Matt Biscelgia (Hon)

8. Vince Friese (Hon)

9. Kyle Cunningham (Hon)

10. Matt Lemoine (Kaw)

Other notables: 12. Jimmy Decotis; 13. Cole Thompson; 14. Alex Martin; 15. Mitchell Oldenburg; 18. Justin Starling; 22. Jace Owen.

CURRENT AMA 450 SUPERCROSS POINTS STANDINGS

(After 10 of 17 rounds)

1. Ryan Villopoto………209

2. Ryan Dungey………..181

3. Ken Roczen………….180

4. James Stewart………157

5. Justin Brayton…………155

6. Andrew Short………..125

7. Justin Barcia…………..118

8. Chad Reed……………111

9. Broc Tickle……………111

10. Wil Hahn……………..108

Other notables: 11. Weston Peick (68); 12. Josh Grant (67); 13. Josh Hill (64); 14. Mike Alessi (62); 16. Matt Goerke (54).

CURRENT AMA 250 EAST SUPERCROSS POINTS STANDINGS

(After 4 of 9 rounds)

1. Adam Cianciarulo……..72

2. Martin Davalos………….67

3. Blake Baggett…………..54

4. Justin Bogle……………..56

5. Vince Friese…………….48

6. Blake Wharton………….33

7. Cole Thompson………..40

8. Kyle Cunningham………33

9. Jimmy Decostis………..34

10. Matt Lemoine………….37

Other notables: 11. Mitchell Oldenburg (36); 12. Matt Biscelgia (35); 13. Alex Martin (34); 15. A.J. Cantazaro (25); 19. Jackson Richardson; 21. Gavin Faith (11).

CURRENT AMA 250 WEST SUPERCROSS POINTS

(After 6 of 9 rounds)

1. Jason Anderson…….131

2. Cole Seely…………….127

3. Justin Hill……………….107

4. Dean Wilson…………..98

5. Cooper Webb…………92

6. Malcolm Stewart……..89

7. Jessy Nelson………….76

8. Shane McElrath………71

9. Zach Osborne…………69

10. Dean Ferris…………..63

Other notables: 12. Dakota Tedder (50); 13. Jake Canada (46); 15. Valentin Teillet (28); 17. Darry Durham (21); 20. Austin Politelli (11).

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