The second order of pre-rev business I have is some serious accolade for the Dirt Diggers Motorcycle Club of Hangtown. Those guys put on a hell of a show and produced what was easily the best track the Hangtown Classic has ever seen. "One-Lined?" Yeah, right, guys. I watched Barcia go from 20th to 6th in about 15 minutes. Hell of a track, Dirt Diggers. HELL of a track!
And now we head to Texas. Ah, the Lone Star State and all it's glory. I joined a mini round-table in the mechanics’ area with Coy Gibbs, Erin Normoyle and Steve Matthes about how Canadians tend to be prideful and how Americans think they are the center of the universe. After some flapping-head noise from Matthes, and some inaudible words from above Erin's cleavage, everyone all agreed that those crazy Texans have a bravado all their own. It's true. There’s enough testosterone in the state to make Elton John a U.F.C. fan. But, I digress. Motocross runs thick in the blood of the Texas fans. There is a ton of Texas motocross history. If you don't own a copy of Shand Garcia's History of Texas book, buy one.
Boy, oh, boy, things are already smoldering with the 2009 Lucas Oils AMA Pro Motocross Championship. Surely you've been watching! How 'bout that SPEED coverage? This is a great time to be a motocross fan. And here comes another one right down the pike – and a real nasty one, too. Time to get right in the stirrups and give yourself a couple slaps to toughen up. About the only thing heavier than sitting on a bull and waiting for the shoot to open is sitting behind the starting gate with the MX class of 2009. Let's get revved up for both classes, Texas-style.
A quick two-horse race has emerged from the opening rounds: Rockstar/Makita Suzuki's Ryan Dungey and Monster Energy/Pro Circuit Kawasaki's Christophe Pourcel have been men among boys thus far and lead the charge. From there, it’s been a gaggle of GEICO Powersports Honda riders making some serious noise, no pun intended. I say that because in every moto this season there is a bike you can hear above all, and it has #151 on the side-panels. That cowboy wears a Texas Smile on his hat, to say the least. When the gate drops, Justin Barcia ropes an "Ole Blue Norther" and milks it till it's dry. Problem is, she runs dry at the cross flags. If he can fix that, he'll win.
I'm raising an eyebrow as I write about the all-conquering Pro Circuit crew. Tyla Rattray is off the lead pace, Austin Stroupe had a nightmare trip through Cali, and Jake Weimer has been consistent, but consistently 8th or so. Mitch will go to the whip on those boys so expect to see a lot more from the green guys soon.
My pick for the 250 win this weekend goes to the #39. Dungey, Pourcel, and Canard were within a couple tenths of each other for 30 minutes in the second moto last week. Trey just needed a little extra, and with this being his home round, and with the track being sandy and rough, it's time to pull out the Ice Trey.
Huge props to Canidae/Motosport Kawasaki and 2008 AMA Horizon Award winner PJ Larsen. He's getting faster every moto with a nonchalant style that looks bitchin’. The same goes for Broc Tickle, who has been turning top-five laptimes on his Yamaha.
Let's get it up for locals Kyle Cunningham and Matthew Lemoine. A hometown holeshot will go a long way.
It’s been a stern attrition factor in the first two rounds with these guys. Timmy Ferry, Broc Hepler and now Ryan Villopoto are out of the title chase. I'm not sure if Davi Millsaps has shaken the cobwebs from that banger he had last week, either.
What's good is we’ve seen the return of Ivan the Terrible and there is a three-rider dogfight for title supremacy. I expect the fangs and talons to grow exponentially on the #800, #33 and #22 rides. I think Chad Reed has eaten enough dirt and is ready to step it up. Reed is a better rider than Grant or Alessi, in my opinion. He just needs to carry more momentum and, wait for it, get a START. Chad needs to attack now, before Grant and Alessi get any more confident.
Don't forget that Honda Red Bull Racing's Andrew Short has won a moto here and Shorty calls Texas home nowadays. That along with Tedesco's solid run in Hangtown could light a spark with the Red Riders.
Look for the Tommy Gun to be ready to blast his #48 Kawasaki into the top-five this weekend. Why Tommy Hahn isn't riding Ferry's vacant machine is beyond me. I'm sure there is a reason, but he'll be the highest placing Kawasaki rider in Texas.
The Miller family has poured a lifetime of experience and resources into this weekend's race. Nothing short of a yeoman's effort has been given by all, and we should have quite a treat waiting for us this Saturday. The weatherman is calling for 95-degree heat, and the course they have laid out may be the roughest we've seen this season. The heat will be a major factor. Texas heat isn't California heat. It's sticky and mean. The riders with the strongest lungs and the toughest skin are going to prosper this time around. Is Mike Alessi going to take the confidence of his first 450 win and roll on? Will Texas mark Chad Reed's first ever 450 outdoor win? Can Josh Grant beat both of them again?
What's been so great this season is the multitude of scenarios! Not just the 250 class – the tiddler class is beyond thunderdome again – but what's important is that we have a war manifesting within the premier division. Let's get ready to watch it grow even more this weekend in Texas.
Lastly, let's get behind Ricky Carmichael Friday night as he will be racing at Texas Motor Speedway in the #4 Monster Energy K.H.I Silverado.
(And all together: THE STARS SHINE BRIGHT! DEEP AT NIGHT...)