Supercross Title Fight Heads To Houston
HOUSTON — Monster Energy AMA Supercross, an FIM World Championship, makes its anticipated westward return this weekend in Houston with Team Yoshimura Suzuki’s James Stewart on a hot streak.
The two-time 450SX Class champion has won three consecutive Main Events to give him five victories in 2014 and now has 50 career wins, second on the all-time wins list. This weekend’s annual visit to NRG Stadium marks the 14th stop of the championship.
After a brief hiccup in Toronto, Monster Energy Kawasaki’s Ryan Villopoto was back in top form in St. Louis one week ago, battling Stewart for the win. Villopoto enjoys a healthy 35-point lead in the 450SX Class standings and his runner-up effort at the previous stop was the eighth podium result of the season. With back-to-back wins in Houston over the last two seasons and victories in three of the last four years at NRG Stadium, Villopoto will look to further extend his advantage in the title fight.
“Houston has always been good to us,” said Villopoto. “We have won the last two years and would like to make it three in-a-row. Each week we have been able to extend our points lead and as long as we continue to do that, we’ll be in a good spot for the championship.”
Red Bull KTM’s Ryan Dungey carried a six-race podium streak into St. Louis and looked to be a formidable challenger for the win after a strong showing in practice. However, Dungey started outside the top 10 and had his work cut out for him in the Main Event. He made a surge through the field and positioned himself in a battle for the podium on the final lap, but crashed, relegating him to ninth. It was Dungey’s worst finish since a DNF at the third stop in Anaheim in February, but the former champion is ready to get back on the box in Houston.
Fellow Red Bull KTM rider Ken Roczen was in the thick of the battle for the podium in St. Louis. Roczen has endured adversity over the last month of competition, but continues to lay it all on the line each week. His rookie campaign has been successful and with fifth and fourth-place finishes over the last two races, he’s ready to try and secure his first podium result in three races.
Stewart’s recent run of dominance has vaulted him back into the championship picture. While he still faces a 36-point deficit to Villopoto atop the standings, Stewart has moved to within just one point of Dungey for second and appears ready to capitalize should Villopoto endure any misfortune over the final month of competition. As a former winner in Houston, back in 2009, he’s ready to make a run at a fourth straight victory.
“I don’t know what’s best, this weekend or last,” said Stewart. “Last weekend was obviously special but to win again this weekend in a different state and to get a milestone like 50 race wins is unbelievable. I’ve got to give it up to the Yoshimura Suzuki team because we kind of had some issues all day but they came through for me in the Main Event. I feel like we’re riding really great and the Yoshimura Suzuki RM-Z450 was working amazing, especially through the whoops. It was a tough race and everybody was riding really good, but I was able to get in the lead and keep it going. Now we’ll just get ready for Houston and see if we can get another win there.”