Jason Lawrence has never been known as a lighting-fast starter, but with his newfound speed and endurance, the motivation to finally get a start has never been higher. Monster Energy/Pro Circuit Kawasaki’s Ryan Villopoto has been cleaning up in the West Region, but Lawrence might have the speed to challenge him if he can just start with him. And in Houston he had his chance to prove it. Villopoto nailed the holeshot with Lawrence right behind him, and then J-Law hung with his young rival and actually executed a pass for the lead—the first time all year someone has put a pass on RV. Now Villopoto had a battle on his hands, but it was short-lived, because Lawrence made a mistake in a sand section and allowed Villopoto back underneath him. But even though Villo had a clean pass made, he decided to stop in the corner and block Lawrence anyway, apparently not pleased with the aggressive move Lawrence had put on him earlier.
Soon RV was pulling away, and it looked to be over until Kyle Partridge crashed and Villopoto ran right into him. Lawrence was in the lead again, but he really tightened up this time, allowing Villopoto to run him down, make a pass, and take a win. Then he gave Lawrence and earful after the race, still not happy with that pass. Lawrence was adamant that he didn’t do anything out of line and his pass was just racing, and he didn’t understand why Villopoto was so upset. Villopoto didn’t want to talk about it, and just said it was racing. And in the Lites class this year, it sure is, because we haven’t had a race this year without some sort of controversy—good thing this time we had one with a good battle for the lead, too.