Seattle Supercross Race Report

April 19, 2009 4:17am | by:

Just when you think you know the answers in Monster Energy Supercross, the questions change. At tonight’s 15th round of the tour in Seattle, Washington’s Qwest Field, the well-defined Chad Reed/James Stewart rivalry for the points lead and championship took a strange turn. Both stars found themselves mired in the back off the start, Reed crashing in turn one, and Stewart starting outside of the top ten. This opened the door for a scenario no one saw coming: someone else stepping up and grabbing a win.

Supercross Class

  • Mike Alessi (800) got the 450cc holeshot.
  • Points leader Chad Reed (1) went down with MCRMX's Tyler Bowers (911) before the first turn.
  • Alessi led until he went down a few laps in.
  • Local boy Ryan Villopoto was pressuring Alessi for the lead when Alessi went down. Villopoto took over the lead, and at the time had more than a couple straightaways on James Stewart.
  • Starting from outside the top 15, Stewart worked his way up as fast as could be expected, eventually grabbing second place from Davi Millsaps with a few laps left to run.
  • Millsaps was third.
  • Despite the fall, Alessi finished fourth.
  • Andrew Short finished fifth.
  • After getting up from the first-turn fall, Reed was only able to climb his way back up to seventh by the finish - his first finish of the season off the podium. With the finish, and Stewart's second place, Stewart took over the points lead by three with two rounds left to run.
  • Villopoto hung on to win his first-ever 450cc main event after taking the preceding three races off with a viral illness.
  • The 450cc podium celebrates with Villopoto, Stewart and Millsaps.
The story coming into Seattle revolved around the weather. Reed led Stewart by just five points coming into the race, and the open-roof Qwest Field and rain-heavy Northwest weather seemed destined to create muddy and unpredictable conditions. This, perhaps, would create the chaos needed to break up the expected title scenario, where Stewart would either win all three of the final rounds of the series and the title, or Reed would grab one more win and take the crown through consistency.

To prepare, supercross promoters Feld Entertainment brought in brand-new dirt with a sandy base to help absorb the rain better. But the kicker came when the rain didn’t come, which left a sandy track that rutted up badly. Stewart showed mastery of it by notching the fastest qualifying times, while Reed struggled through the first session but came back to take the second-fastest time in the second practice session. Still, Reed never looked totally comfortable on the track. He got off to a bad start in his heat race, nearly last out of the gate, and was never able to catch the early leader, Honda Red Bull Racing’s Ivan Tedesco. Tedesco went on to win his first heat race of the season.

Stewart answered back with a win in his heat over Monster Energy Kawasaki’s home-state boy Ryan Villopoto, who led the first few laps. This gave Stewart the first gate pick on a track that featured a short start straight and a tight first turn. Reed lined up two gates to the inside of Stewart in the main, but he once again got a terrible jump off the line and found himself tangling with the riders who bunched up in the tight first turn. Eventually the tangling took Reed down to the ground, hard, as he hit Moto Concepts Honda’s Tyler Bowers.

Meanwhile, Reed’s Rockstar Makita Suzuki teammate Mike Alessi, of course, took the holeshot with his old rivals Villopoto and Red Bull Honda Racing’s Davi Millsaps in tow. Stewart, meanwhile, started about 12th. He ended the first lap in 11th, while Reed ended the lap in 18th.

All the prognostications coming into the race indicated that Stewart and Reed could work their way into the top two positions no matter where they started—especially since last year in Seattle, Reed and Kevin Windham clawed their way from way back to finish 1-2 with the title in the balance.

This time it wasn’t happening, though. Up front, Alessi and Villopoto began pulling away from Millsaps, while Stewart started picking riders off in lighting quick fashion. Reed wasn’t as efficient, taking three laps, for example, to pass Rockstar Hart and Huntington’s Matt Boni for the 12th place spot. Reed did hit head first in his first-turn crash, and may have been struggling from the effects.

Meanwhile, Villopoto continued to pressure Alessi for the lead, and on lap eight, Alessi crashed exiting a turn heading into the whoops. Villopoto took the position and then began putting in steady laps. Eventually Stewart closed in on and then passed Millsaps to get into second, but never really made a run at Villopoto. By the 15th lap, it became clear that Stewart was either not able or not willing to make a run at Villopoto, and the partisan Seattle fans began to sense that the home-grown kid was going to win his first-ever Supercross Main Event. A few minutes later, he had completed the process, and the fans kept on cheering.

Villopoto’s win was even more impressive considering he had just missed a month of racing due to an illness, he had just left his long-time trainer Randy Lanwrence, and did not have the services of his mechanic, John Mitcheff, who was attending his father’s funeral.

Stewart took second, and Reed could only climb to seventh. This results in an eight-point swing in the series, and a three-point lead for Stewart with two rounds to go.

Millsaps took third, his third podium of the season.

450 Main:
1. Ryan Villopoto KAW
2. James Stewart YAM
3. Davi Millsaps HON
4. Mike Alessi SUZ
5. Andrew Short HON
6. Josh Grant YAM
7. Chad Reed SUZ
8. Paul Carpenter KAW
9. Ivan Tedesco HON
10. Kevin Windham HON
11. Nick Wey YAM
12. Heath Voss HON
13. Tommy Hahn KAW
14. Matt Boni HON
15. Jason Thomas HON
16. Kyle Chisholm YAM
17. Tyler Bowers HON
18. Jacob Marsack HON
19. Troy Adams HON
20. Billy Laninovich KAW

Monster Energy Supercross Championship Points (after 15 of 17 rounds):
1. James Stewart (332/10 wins)
2. Chad Reed (329/3 wins)
3. Andrew Short (241)
4. Josh Grant (208/1 win)
5. Kevin Windham (204)
6. Mike Alessi (203)
7. Ivan Tedesco (199)
8. Ryan Villopoto (190/1 win)
9. Davi Millsaps (188)
10. Josh Hill (146)

  • The Lites class got under way with Jake Moss (42) grabbing the holeshot just in front of points leader Ryan Dungey (10). Dungey took over the lead soon thereafter. Moss hung on for fifth at the finish.
  • Ryan Morais (116) fought off Trey Canard (39) in the early going before Canard went down trying to pass him. Morais finished second, while Canard hung on for third.
  • Dungey grabbed his fourth win of the season.
  • Jake Weimer started poorly and eventually worked his way up to fourth by the finish, losing seven points to Dungey and falling to a total of nine points back with one round left to run.
  • The Lites podium with Dungey, Morais and Canard.
Supercross Lites

The Western Region Lites Supercross title chase is just as tense as the Supercross class, as Rockstar Makita Suzuki’s Ryan Dungey came into the race with a two-point lead over Monster Energy/Pro Circuit/Kawasaki’s Jake Weimer, with Weimer’s teammate Ryan Morias another nine points back.

In the main, Honda riders Jake Moss, of the Troy Lee Designs team, and Trey Canard, of the GEICO Powersports Squad, got out first, but Canard got pushed wide in turn one. Dungey was right there and elbowed his way around Moss and Morias to take the lead. Weimer did not get such a good start and found passing tough. Morias got around Moss, but Canard did as well, and then began pressuring Morias for second. This allowed Dungey to inch away and take the win. Eventually Canard washed out in a corner and handed third to Moss, but then he got Moss back. Weimer made the pass on Moss late to take fourth, but that hands Dungey a nine-point lead heading in the West Region Finale next weekend in Salt Lake City. A fourth-place finish should be enough for the Minnesota native to win his first championship.

Lites Main:
1. Ryan Dungey SUZ
2. Ryan Morais KAW
3. Trey Canard HON
4. Jake Weimer KAW
5. Jake Moss HON
6. Kyle Cunningham KAW
7. Jimmy Albertson HON
8. Chris Blose HON
9. Michael Hall YAM
10. Jeff Alessi HON
11. P.J. Larsen KAW
12. Sean Borkenhagen HON
13. Dan Reardon HON
14. Alex Martin HON
15. Derek Costella HON
16. Michael Horban YAM
17. Ryan Sipes KTM
18. Eric McCrummen HON
19. Gray Davenport KAW
20. Ryan Clark HON

Lites West Points (After 7 of 8 rounds):
1. Ryan Dungey (160/4 wins)
2. Jake Weimer (151/3 wins)
3. Ryan Morais (146)
4. Justin Brayton (103)
5. Chris Blose (95)
6. Ryan Sipes (89)
7. Trey Canard (74)
8. Dan Reardon (67)
9. Jeff Alessi (62)
10. P.J. Larsen (61)