TEN THINGS YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT DETROIT: WILLIAM SHAKESPEARE WAS A WORLD CLASS AUTHOR, BUT WE HAVE IT ON GOOD AUTHORITY THAT HE WAS JUST A FAIR-TO-MIDDLIN’ VET NOVICE.
By Jody Weisel
It is hard to believe that in dirt this hard that a rock could find its way to the surface, but it did and turned K-Roc in K-Rock.
(1) IT’S THE DIRT, STUPID: Every motocross racer, from the slowest of the slow to the fastest of the fast knows that racing dirt bikes is all about the dirt. Jumps don’t mean diddly—proven by how many jumps there were at Detroit and how little passing there was. Dirt is the most important part of motocross. Who doesn’t know this? The answer is Feld Motorsports. Detroit was another linoleum racetrack with rock hard dirt covered with dirt-like sprinkles. We would cut the Supercross promoters some slack if this was the only track with bad dirt—by which we mean badly prepped dirt—but it isn’t. It is one in a long series of slippery, roller skate rink race tracks that take the beautiful dynamics of the sport and turn it into tip-toeing through the tulips. Feld, if your track builder doesn’t know how to prep dirt—find someone that does.
HIS BIKE WOULDN’T GO FORWARD AND, UNFORTUNATELY, HE DIDN’T TRY TO ROLL IT BACKWARDS TO DISLODGE THE ROCK. BY THE TIME THE ROCK FELL OUT OF ITS OWN ACCORD, KEN WAS TWO LAPS DOWN.
(2) ROCZEN’S TITLE CHANCE MELTDOWN: Every rider in the title chase can afford to have one bad race, but Ken Roczen’s luck has evaporated. Indy was a disaster for Kenny and now Detroit was equally bad. A rock got stuck in Ken’s chain—and his chain was as taut as a piano wire. His bike wouldn’t go forward and, unfortunately, he didn’t try to roll it backwards to dislodge the rock. By the time the rock fell out of its own accord, Ken was two laps down. He earned one point in Detroit to go with the one point he earned in Indy. At those same two races Dungey earned 45 points, Villopoto 40 and Stewart 39. Ken’s average finish in the 9 races that weren’t Indy or Detroit was third place—had Kenny gotten third place points at those two races he would be in second place and only 10 points behind Ryan Villopoto. Instead he is 50 points back.
A successful Supercross season for Tickle (20) or Brayton (10) would be to make the top five by season’s end. Brayton holds the spot now and Tickle wants it.
(3) THE CHAD REED SHOW: Move over Fro, Ricky and K-dub, Fox Sports 1 has a new hero and his name is Chad Reed. During the time delayed showing of the Detroit Supercross, Fox lavished attention on Skippy. They did two feature segments on Chad, they had Dianna Dahlgren’s Twitter fluff piece focus only on Chad Reed tweets and photos, they moved him up into the announcers booth to do some color commentating and they presented him with a birthday cake. There is no doubt that the TV producers are holding a “Beauty Contest” to see who gets to be next year’s Supercross color commentator. They currently are rotating Kevin Windham and Ricky Carmichael through the booth, but Chad was a new twist (except for a brief appearance by Davi Millsaps filling in for a short-lived female announcer who got sick two minutes into the program a few weeks ago). For our tastes, we like Fro because even though he is a Kawasaki shill, it balances out Ricky’s Suzuki allegiance and Kevin’s Honda deal—at least Chad hates all the manufacturers the same. Chad say that he isn’t interested in announcing—he wants to race.
(4) SHORT’S BACK: The last time Andrew Short was in the top five at a Supercross was back on April 21, 2012, when he won the Seattle Supercross on a Honda (and Seattle was his only top five of 2012). In 2013 Short’s best finish was a sixth. So, it should come as a relief for Short to turn in his best performance in over two years when he finished fourth in Detroit. And it wasn’t just any fourth—he fought for it. And he fought it out with a rider that few people want to tangle with for 8 laps of dueling to the finish line—Justin Barcia. It seems strange that Short, a rider who had a reputation as a rammer and block passer in his 250 days, would have his best night against the sport’s current king of the take-out (we aren’t discounting Mike Alessi here, but his take-outs seem more befuddled than malevolent). Short rose to the challenge, channeled his old aggressive style and matched Barcia move for move. It wasn’t pretty, but given that Barcia has the Honda ride that once belonged to Short—the motivation was there.
(5) MISSING PERSONS: Eli Tomac, Kyle Chisholm and Ivan Tedesco were missing from 450 action in Detroit with shoulder, shoulder and finger issues respectively. Blake Wharton had to sit out the 250 East race with a knee injury—and, in the process, Blake fell from sixth in the points to tenth. Blake’s fill-in dream at Geico is no longer a dream—he’s 68 points back with only four races left.
AND JAMES STEWART IS A MAN WITH A PLAN…AND HIS PLAN IS NOT TO WIN THE 2014 AMA 450 SUPERCROSS CHAMPIONSHIP. HE SAID IN DETROIT THAT HIS CHAMPIONSHIP HOPES WERE OVER FOR 2014.
(6) A WIN IS ALWAYS A WIN: Winning is important —it’s what riders are paid to do. Well, in truth they are paid to present the product in its best light, make it look good to potential buyers, enhance the image of the company and get press. The quickest way to do that is to win races (although there have been riders like Doug Henry, Travis Pastrana and Kevin Windham who could achieve all those results whether they won or not). But a win is always a feather in the cap of the winner, his minion and the suits back at corporate headquarters. And James Stewart is a man with a plan…and his plan is not to win the 2014 AMA 450 Supercross Championship. He said in Detroit that his Championship hopes were over for 2014. Now he wants to pad his bank account (with $100,000 per race win bonuses) and polish his image by dethroning Ricky Carmichael from the Supercross record books—although, in truth, the guy with the second most wins isn’t sitting on the throne. Jeremy McGrath is—with 72 Supercross wins to Stewart and Carmichael’s 48.
HE DOESN’T HAVE TO WIN EVERY RACE ANYMORE—HE CAN NICKEL AND DIME HIS WAY TO THE TITLE BECAUSE THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN FIRST AND SECOND PLACE IS ONLY THREE POINTS.
(7) THE POINTS CHASE: With 6 races left in the Supercross series—there are 150 points remaining for a rider who sweeps the tables. Ryan Villopoto now sits atop the standings with a 30-point lead over second place (Ryan Dungey)—that is more than one full race. That buffer allows him the liberty of playing it safe. He doesn’t have to win every race anymore—he can nickel and dime his way to the title because the difference between first and second place is only three points and it’s only a five point difference between first and third. That means that Ryan Dungey would have to win the next six races, with Villopoto getting third in all six, for Ryan to tie for the crown. And, Ryan Dungey is not going to win the next six races—but Villopoto can finish third in the next six with his eyes closed. As for James Stewart—his win in Detroit squeaked him back to 49 points behind Villopoto. That means that Villopoto’s Championship contest against Stewart is down to just a hair under four races left, even though there are six races to go. That’s better than everyone outside of the top 11—they have lost the title to Villopoto already.
NOW EVERYBODY IN THE WORLD KNOWS WHY MARTIN DAVALOS HAS ONLY WON A SINGLE RACE IN NINE YEARS IN THE 250 CLASS—HE IS MR. BUTTERFINGERS.
(8) BUTTERFINGERS: Now everybody in the world knows why Martin Davalos has only won a single race in nine years in the 250 class—he is Mr. Butterfingers. Everything he touches slips out of his hands. Even the single race that he won, Atlanta 2014, he came oh-so-lose to falling down just before the finish line. But, to his credit, Martin keeps getting back up after every mishap to charge back towards the front, often to crash again. In Detroit he was leading and crashed on lap two, he got up and charged back to third and crashed again on lap 8. He got up a second time, actually the third time that day because he had a horrendous crash in practice also, and found himself way back in 11th place. He put on another valiant effort and finished sixth for the night. Even with his miscues, Butterfingers is still second in points (in a Pro Circuit 1-2-3 of the top three spots in the 250 East tally).
WILLIAM SHAKESPEARE WAS A WORLD CLASS AUTHOR, BUT WE HAVE IT ON GOOD AUTHORITY THAT HE WAS JUST A FAIR-TO-MIDDLIN’ VET NOVICE.
(9) THE STORY LINES: “All the world’s a stage, And all the men and women merely players. They have their exits and their entrances, And one man in his time plays many parts.” William Shakespeare was a world class author, but we have it on good authority that he was just a fair-to-middlin’ Vet Novice. But, he does have a point here. In a season that started with more promise that many past seasons (always ballyhooed as “The Perfect Storm”) we have come a cropper after 11 races. We lost Davi Millsaps and Trey Canard almost immediately. Then Eli Tomac, Jake Weimer and Kyle Chisholm got hurt. But worst of all—when Chad Reed broke his shoulder the spark that ignited the season was gone. Chad was the fifth player in the title chase. You need five contenders to make up a true “Perfect Storm”— the fifth man means that large points swings are possible on a race-to-race basis. Thiskeeps the title chase closer. When Chad was winning it meant that one of the other title contenders was finishing fifth—and finishing fifth meant that some rider was losing 9 points. Without Chad it is hard for a rider who is trailing in the points to make up any significant ground—which is why Ryan Villopoto can win the 2014 title without ever winning another race.
ONLY ONE MAN STANDS IN THE WAY OF PRO CIRCUIT SWEEPING THE 250 EAST CHAMPIONSHIP. THEY HAVEN’T LOST A RACE SINCE THE SERIES STARTED AND THEY DON’T LOOK LIKE THEY ARE GOING TO.
(10) LONE RANGER: Let’s be serious, only one man stands in the way of Pro Circuit sweeping the 250 East Championship. They haven’t lost a race since the series started and they don’t look like they are going to. Cianciarulo, Davalos and Baggett have all won races and on two occasions the podium has been all Pro Circuit. But, the Lone Ranger standing in their way is Justin Bogle. The Geico Honda rider has finished 5th, 3rd, 3rd, 5th and 2nd. He still has four chances to stop the Pro Circuit Express. He is the only rider in the 250 East who can keep them in sight.
DETROIT SUPERCROSS RESULTS: 450 CLASS
1. James Stewart (Suz)
2. Ryan Villopoto (Kaw)
3. Ryan Dungey (KTM)
4. Andrew Short (KTM)
5. Justin Barcia (Hon)
6. Broc Tickle (Suz)
7. Weston Peick (Suz)
8. Josh Hill (Suz)
9. Justin Brayton (Yam)
10. Josh Grant (Yam)
Other notables: 11. Matt Goerke; 12. Dean Wilson; 14. Mike Alessi; 14. Wil Hahn; 15. Cole Seely; 20. Ken Roczen.
DETROIT SUPERCROSS RESULTS: 250 EAST
1. Adam Cianciarulo (Kaw)
2. Justin Bogle (Hon)
3. Blake Baggett (Kaw)
4. Kyle Cunningham (Hon)
5. Matt Lemoine (Kaw)
6. Martin Davalos (Kaw)
7. Vince Friese (Hon)
8. Jeremy Martin (Yam)
9. Alex Martin (Hon)
10. Jimmy Decotis (Hon)
Other notables: 11. Cole Thompson; 12. Kyle Peters; 13. Gavin Faith; 15. Mitchell Oldenburg; 15. A.J. Cantazaro.
CURRENT AMA 450 SUPERCROSS POINTS STANDINGS
(After 11 of 17 rounds)
1. Ryan Villopoto……….231
2. Ryan Dungey…………201
3. James Stewart……….182
4. Ken Roczen…………..181
5. Justin Brayton…………155
6. Andrew Short…………143
7. Justin Barcia…………..134
8. Broc Tickle……………..126
9. Wil Hahn………………..115
10. Chad Reed……………111
Other notables: 11. Weston Peick (82); 12. Josh Grant (78); 13. Josh Hill (77); 14. Mike Alessi (70); 16. Matt Goerke (64).
CURRENT AMA 250 EAST SUPERCROSS POINTS STANDINGS
(After 5 of 9 rounds)
1. Adam Cianciarulo……..119
2. Martin Davalos………….102
3. Blake Baggett…………..99
4. Justin Bogle……………..94
5. Vince Friese…………….75
6. Kyle Cunningham………63
7. Cole Thompson………..58
8. Jimmy Decotis………….54
9. Matt Lemoine……………53
10. Blake Wharton…………51
Other notables: 11. Alex Martin (46); 12. Mitchell Oldenburg (43); 13. Kyle Peters (39); 14.Matt Biscelgia (37); 13. 15. A.J. Cantazaro (31).
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).
Photos: KTM, Pro Circuit, John Ker, Spencer Rathkamp, John Basher