Villopoto Can Clinch In Home State
SEATTLE — Monster Energy AMA Supercross, an FIM World Championship, makes its annual visit to the Pacific Northwest on Saturday with a visit to the home of the Super Bowl Champion Seattle Seahawks at CenturyLink Field.
With his fourth 450SX Class win of the season last weekend in Houston, Monster Energy Kawasaki’s Ryan Villopoto took one step closer to a record-tying fourth consecutive title. Now the Seattle-area native has a chance to wrap up the championship in front of his hometown crowd.
Villopoto had arguably his most impressive effort of the season in Houston, posting a wire-to-wire victory on a night when each of his closest championship rivals had to endure challenges. While he has only one victory to his credit in five 450SX Class starts in Seattle, Villopoto knows how memorable it would be to make history at his hometown race. With a 45-point lead in the standings, Villopoto needs to increase his margin by five points on Saturday night in order to be crowned champion.
“I always look forward to visiting Seattle because it’s obviously close to where I grew up,” said Villopoto. “There’s a special feeling out there knowing everyone is pulling for you and I always try to step up my game. We have a chance to wrap (the championship) up, but we’ll approach it just like any other race. I haven’t had as much success in Seattle as I would like so it’ll be a challenge.”
Team Yoshimura Suzuki’s James Stewart entered Houston as the hottest rider in Monster Energy Supercross, but the five-time winner this season was battling an illness throughout the day and wasn’t at his best when the gate dropped. Nevertheless, Stewart logged 20 consistent laps to finish fifth and move into second in the championship. Now back at full health, he’ll look to return to the top of the podium on Saturday.
“This has been a rough week for me,” said Stewart. “I just had some kind of stomach bug and I’ve been feeling pretty weak. I felt good enough to travel to Houston, but I started feeling worse as the day went on. I rode the first untimed practice and the second timed session, but I was only able to ride two laps because I was feeling so bad.
“In the heat race, I got a decent start and was able to pass for the lead but by the second lap, I was just done,” Stewart continued. “I had no energy, I felt really weak and I made a few mistakes, but I was able to win.
Afterward, I went back to the pits to try to recover and we were debating whether it was safe to go out and race the Main. I wanted to, so I went out and got an OK start and made my way up to fifth and just salvaged everything I could. I’m happy with fifth, considering how I’m feeling. And I’m really happy about moving up to second in the points. Now I just want to get healthy and come back next weekend. We have three races left and I want to go out and get three W’s. I still feel good as far as riding goes, I just have to get healthy now.”
The penultimate stop of the Western Regional 250SX Class Championship will take place on Saturday with a pair of riders in search of their first career titles leading the way.
Rockstar Energy Racing’s Jason Anderson raced to his fourth victory of the season in Houston to add to his championship lead. Just two races remain for Anderson to potentially earn his first career title and he appears ready for the challenge. He’ll bring an 11-point lead into Seattle.
“Good night here in Houston, I ended up with a win,” said Anderson. “I had a kind of weird Heat Race but practice was good and the Main was good and I’m leaving with some valuable points.”
Troy Lee Designs/Lucas Oil Honda’s Cole Seely is Anderson’s primary challenger in the title fight. He posted a fourth-place finish in Houston and has finished no worse than that through seven races. Seely will need to challenge for the win inside CenturyLink Field if he’s to have a realistic shot at his first career title in Las Vegas. He won in Seattle in 2011.