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Racer X ReduX: San Diego

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Welcome to Racer X ReduX presented by Renthal. Millsaps proved us wrong again.

As supercross fans, we want close racing at all costs. Every week, the Monster Energy Supercross crew puts in painstaking efforts to produce a good show, with lavish opening ceremonies, videos, and promotions. The Dirt Wurx track crew puts in the effort too, especially with these rain races. The teams work hard, the sponsors work hard—heck, every darn interview in this sport contains the words working and hard, and usually one after the other.

  • Davi would like everyone to know that he is
But all that effort can’t guarantee what the fans want: close racing and multiple contenders. That’s up to the riders, and when they don’t deliver, the reactions are harsh, especially when a talented rider isn’t mixing it up for the win. Then the usual criticism comes out: the rider isn’t working hard enough. Sorry to be so mean to the riders who don’t win, but that’s what we want them to do.

Davi Millsaps may illustrate this point best. Follow the bouncing ball of his career and you’ll find rumors running the gamut: he’s not working hard enough, he’s working too hard, he’s working hard enough. He won a lot of amateur races; his mother, Colleen, garnered a reputation as a motocross drill sergeant, and the Millsaps Training Facility set the standard for hard work in the amateur ranks. They worked so hard that some thought the kids were getting pushed too hard, too soon.

Davi turned pro in 2004 with a lot of hype, and he struggled. That led to conflicting stories. Davi wasn’t winning, so he must not be working. But Colleen was still cracking the whip, so how was that possible? Before the ’05 season, rumors spread again that Davi wasn’t putting in the work, and he was pushed over to the East SX Region again. But then he won a bunch of races, so he seemed okay, although he complained about arm pump and blisters at Unadilla that year, and I was wondering how you get blisters when you’ve apparently been pounding out motos non-stop for your whole life.

Then Davi moved to Team Honda in 2006. Rumors said he had lost weight and was putting in the work. He claimed the Lites East SX crown. He mixed it up with the big guns on a 450 outdoors. No one thought he was lazy then, and during the nationals, Mom pushed him hard. I remember seeing him on an exercise bike between motos, outside in the summer heat. Was it too much?
 
  • Much maligned trio was happy to be back on the box.
A broken femur derailed his ’07 rookie SX-class campaign. The femur injury is big—just ask riders Guy Cooper, Greg Albertyn, or Damon Huffman. Davi failed to catch fire in ’07, and yes, the “lazy” talk was back. Especially since mom wasn’t around anymore.

But then came 2008, and Davi won two supercrosses. He was apparently training hard again. He was on the verge...but then he struggled in 2009. That started the “burned out” rumors, which Davi disputed in interviews, and he also dispute his physical condition by throwing out during a famous Erin Bates interview: “I’m not tired!”

At this point it was really hard to figure. Was he not working hard enough? Was he burnt out from working too hard? Was it the bike? The team? The mom? The girlfriend? The rumors, guesses, and theories on Millsaps’ program run the gamut, and the real reason people care so much is because they think he has the talent to make the racing interesting, and that’s what everyone wants.

In one week Davi has gone from being a bust to a hero. All of our guesses end up being wrong. Why not just read his horoscope for a guide? It can’t be any less accurate. Let’s do it. Davi was born February 15, 1988, which makes him an Aquarius. For an Aquarius, www.whats-your-sign.com actually says, if you can believe this, “If not kept in check, the Aquarian can be prone to sloth and laziness. However, they know this about themselves, and try their best to motivate themselves to action.”

Are you kidding me?!

Intrigued, I checked Horoscope.com to see what’s in store for Davi this month. Check out this snippet:

…you'll be at your best in February, especially on the 13th, when chatty Mercury in your own sign will contact passionate Mars…

February 13 is Anaheim 3! Look out!

This season we’ve run through the full cycle of Millsaps rumors again in just five weeks. We heard he was strong coming into the season (working hard), but then came ninth-, ninth-, and eighth-place finishes (he was lazy again, or burnt out again, or prone to sloth or laziness or something like that), then he finally logged a third in San Francisco. He revealed on our webcast that some supplements he had been taking had creatine in them, and creatine, apparently, causes arm pump.

  • Arm pump kicked in at the end of lap 20 this time.
This weekend in San Diego, I chatted with Davi’s trainer, John Louch, about all of this. Apparently Davi has been using the same supplements for a while now, but somewhere along the way the manufacturer changed the ingredients. As Louch explained, when you go to the store and grab the same vitamins you always do, or the same drink, you don’t study the label every time. Louch takes the blame for not studying the label every time he picked up a bottle. The small amount of creatine in this supplement isn’t a big deal, except elite athletes take supplements in very high doses, so even a trace amount of a substance can add up.

Creatine basically creates arm pump, keeping blood and fluid in your muscles so you can do more reps. If you’re Mike “The Situation” from Jersey Shore, it’s awesome. If you’re Davi Millsaps, it’s not. Now he’s off of it, he doesn’t get arm pump, we have four winners in five races this year, and the kind of close, unpredictable action we all want.

Good thing everyone is putting in the work!

So what’s up with the weather out here? Before Anaheim 1 2005, I feared the world would never be the same once Carmichael and Stewart finally got to race each other. That seems to be true, because ever since that first race, things are always touch and go in Cali’s open stadiums. We dodged it at A2 and San Fran, but the rain came at exactly the wrong time in San Diego-when they pulled the tarps off at 5 p.m. I can’t believe the track stayed as good as it did, and like A2, the rain made for better racing. No one could jump everything ever lap, which kept the field together. At times Millsaps had it under control, then he would make a mistake and the Short/Tedesco/Hill/Windham posse would catch up. At one point, five different riders were positioning themselves to win. When was the last time we could say that?

Hill played it smartest, saying he actually backed it down early because he didn’t want to throw points away. Then he wicked it up late (his fastest lap came on lap 12) and took second. Hill was really pumped for Millsaps, saying, “Davi takes as much crap on the message boards from people as I do.” Hey, the fans just want to see the guys with talent deliver a good race for them. On this night, Millsaps and Hill did.

  • This left two races to watch--leaders, and RV/Dungey marching through the pack.
Remember that episode of Seinfeld where Kramer and Newman were playing the game Risk, and it took so long to complete that they took it with them on the subway, and just as it looked like someone was going to break through, a guy from Ukraine came over and smashed the game to pieces? That’s Andrew Short. He was making real progress over the last few weeks, finally going to break through, and now he’s back to square one. Real, real bummer there.

According to a Honda press release, fellow Honda racer GEICO Powersports Honda’s Kevin Windham was in fifth and closing on the riders in front of him when he was sidelined on lap 18. Translation: mechanical troubles. Luckily, he had a Saints Super Bowl win to console himself.

Ivan Tedesco rode awesome and finished third. A year ago at this time the Valli Motorsports team was switching bike brands and racing off-road with Bobby Bonds. Now they’re on the SX podium. And what ever happened to Bonds? Oh, he decided to race San Diego with Wonder Wharthog and made the main!

As for IT, here’s a crazy stat: his last podium came during his rookie 450 season, on February 18, 2006, in St. Louis. That’s four years! You have to be happy for that guy.

Grant Langston also looked more like his old self this weekend, even running within site of that lead pack for a few laps.

  • Is he managing the bad races, or making too many mistakes? I'll tell you for sure in May.
Folks, we’ve gone 1500 words deep into ReduX without even mentioning Ryan Dungey or Ryan Villopoto. (And we're also going to go all the way to the end without even mentioning Stewart or Reed...d'oh! Scratch that). Dungey is still fast but once again a mistake led to his undoing when he washed out in the first turn. He fell again in traffic and salvaged sixth (big help from Short and Windham to pick up some spots late). And he was lucky to even finish, as he had a hole in his radiator and the bike made it to the finish without coolant. So that’s a hard-earned 15 points there, and he still has a four-point lead over Hill. Of course Hill threw gasoline on the fire by saying he wasn’t surprised Dungey made a mistake. When is J-Law gonna get back so they can form a tag team, maybe with a steel folding chair for help? When they do, I’ll sound like WWE’s Jim Ross screaming, “Not like this, not like this!!!” in the background.

By the way, Dungey has beaten everyone to turn one in four out of five races. That’s McGrath territory there.

Dungey took Villopoto and Tommy Hahn down with him. We finally saw the real Tommy Hahn, who followed Dungey all night and came from last to seventh. Villopoto logged the fastest lap of the race on his way to fourth, no doubt helped by his strong Renthal bars that don’t bend in first-turn crashes. He’s only ten points back from Dungey now, too. This is going to be an awesome title race providing the Anaheim 1 and Anaheim 2 Villopoto doesn’t show up at the race this weekend.

Dan Reardon was back from that crazy wreck at A1 and finished a respectable thirteenth. Also back in action, in the Lites class, was PJ Larsen, who stepped in for Tommy Searle with KTM. The Peej told me he had ridden one half of a day at the KTM supercross track, which is fifty laps. Yup, fifty laps is half a day! And he rode well and finished eighth, and after A3 he packs his bags to race in Australia. Why didn’t he get a U.S. ride this year? PJ said he wasn’t willing to ride for free, because to do it right you need a place in California and a trainer, and that means you have bills to pay, and if he got hurt before the first race, he’d be in the hole. Instead he picked up a nice deal for Australia. Good for him.

  • Anstie was really, really close to Weimer.
In the Lites class, we had our Weimer-Canard showdown ready to go when Canard pulled another holey despite a bad gate pick. His starts have really come around. Then Weimer passed him and Canard crashed trying to cut back underneath. That was a rookie move. Weimer, meanwhile, was riding like a veteran and was going to just run his own pace, not do anything stupid and…whoa, whoa, whoa did he just try to jump that double over the start straight? Is he crazy?

Yes, Weimer tried to jump it, and on the second lap he cased it and probably knocked his voice back into six-year-old status. And what got into Mad Max Anstie? Kid was nailing that huge double perfectly every lap, and even when Weimer got it down, he couldn’t leave the rookie behind. Anstie kept the heat on the whole way, until he threw his first podium away on the very last lap. That’s a rookie move too, but at least he actually is a rookie (sorry, Trey).

The Lucas Troy Lee Honda riders, Seely and Hahn, finished second and third, but since we've pointed out 1000 times how Ping is getting so much out of his riders, we'll just skip it. Cole Seely got second though. Think about it.

Let’s drop Jason Thomas’ JT$ nickname and just call him Houdini. He started seventh in the LCQ, and all the riders in front crashed around him in the first two turns of the race. There were bodies and bikes going everywhere and somehow he escaped with the win. Here’s a YouTube clip that pretty much shows how it went down

Last week I asked if anyone could verify the race in which Josh Hansen showed all that speed and talent you hear about. A few said maybe it was the X Games, but no one is sure if that proves anything. And if we’re bummed that Hansen doesn’t live up to his potential, see the Millsaps story from above for the reason why.

  • Next time your family has an Italian dinner, ask them to pass the Nicoletti. It's getting harder and harder to do!
Phil Nicoletti has been riding well at the last two races with a tenth and a seventh. He’s shown some real speed in the heat races too. Rookie Travis Baker has had a solid season, but the laws of SX luck finally caught him when he crashed and finished nineteenth in the main.

Finally, this weekend is the final race for a gang of French kids trying to make a name for themselves. Here’s a pronunciation guide: Hugo Dagod is pronounced Da-Go, and Fabien Izoird is pronounced Fah-be-en E-zwah. Thanks to my buddy LeBig for bailing me out. Stature of Liberty and supercross racers. France always hooks us up.

Who is ready for the pink race this weekend? Finally, you can bring your best Broc Glover retro gear (or your 2002 James Stewart stuff) and fit right in. We’re raising money for the Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer Foundation, and there will be awesome stuff up for bid on eBay after the race. Spend your Valentine’s Day money on that and your girl will understand, I'm sure.

That's it for this week, send me an email at jasonw@racerxonline.com or just make eye contact with me at Unadilla and I'll be sure to diss you out even though I don't even know you and hence didn't know you wanted me to say hello. Carry on.
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