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450 Words: Freestone

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Round three of the 2009 Lucas Oil/AMA Pro Motocross Championships at Freestone County Raceway turned out to be a sign of things to come, but probably not in the way one would assume.

  • Alessi dominated Freestone before his shocking knee injury
Flash back a whole two weeks to round one at Glen Helen Raceway in San Bernardino, California, and what you see is an absolutely dominant performance by Monster Energy Kawasaki’s Ryan Villopoto – a three-time 250 champ in his first 450 National performance. Then, only five days later, Villopoto injured his already-damaged knee prior to round two at Hangtown, and although he attempted to race, a first-lap fall and his hampered speed resulted in a 16th-place finish. He dropped out of moto two and the rest of the championship in order to get surgery and fix his bum knee.

Rockstar/Makita Suzuki’s Mike Alessi won that day, and then at Freestone, he looked as dominant as he has ever looked in any single race. He went out in the first moto, didn’t even get the holeshot (!), and then sped past the two leading Hondas of Andrew Short and Ivan Tedesco and took off, eventually winning by 13 seconds over Short, in one of his two “home town” races. Then came Josh Grant in another strong ride, Tedesco, and the ailing Chad Reed in fifth.

But that was nothing compared to moto two, where Alessi grabbed the holeshot and sped away from GEICO Powersports Honda’s Dan Reardon and a gaggle of other Hondas. Eventually, despite his illness, Reed moved his way all the way past Short and into second, grabbing his best moto finish of the year in the process. But Alessi won by nearly 30 seconds.

  • Who will be next to step up to the plate?
  • Someone will win their first 450 motocross overall on Saturday
After such a dominating performance, it actually fits within the character of this particular championship for something to happen, and it did yesterday, when Alessi was out practicing and went down, breaking his kneecap. He had surgery today and is out of the championship hunt if not the entire season.

Now there are still quite a few questions to be answered, such as questions about Reed’s health as we move forward (he is the presumptive points leader, sitting second in the standings right now), and the ability for others to step up.

One thing is for sure: This weekend, someone will get the first 450 National victory of their career. Reed, Short, Tedesco, Reardon, Byrne, Grant... None of them have ever won a 450cc outdoor. With the past dominance of Ricky Carmichael (who stopped Reed from ever winning any up until now) and James Stewart, and Kevin Windham and Timmy Ferry sitting out, the field is without a single winning 450cc rider. That is, until this weekend’s race.

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