Hello, everyone, and welcome to the Rev Up. Sorry I missed you guys last week. What can I say? It was Daytona Speedweek and I didn't want to bore y’all with that. The industry was gathered in Indy last week for the trade show and I could almost hear the bench racing over the cacophony of the 43-car draft. I will tell you, there really is nothing in motorsports like the Daytona 500. Just participating in the Great American Race as a spectator is astonishing, but when you have a family member leading the damned thing in a green-white-checkered finish, well, I’m pretty sure most of you felt it, too, from the many text messages I got. That sense of energy is hard to grasp with words. You pretty much feel like you could fly if you really, really tried. That may sound far-fetched, but until you've watched your brother lead that sucker toward the end, take my word for it.
Speaking of Energy, round seven of the 2010 Monster Energy Supercross Series heads to one of the greatest cities in all of sports; home of "Iron" Mike LaRocco, Indiana also claims the NFL's Colts, the NCAA's Hoosiers, and the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. This little piece of land nestled in the heart of our country has seen some of the most prolific moments in competitive history. And lest you forget the infamous Red Garter... But I digress...
How amazing is it to be alive and breathing as a fan of supercross right now? Are you kidding me? As we stare down round seven, there is more raw energy in the sport than I can remember. When was the last time we marched into Indy with the supercross series tied? The four-horsemen (I'm calling them that from here on out) are only separated by 25 points, and what's that coming our way? That, my friends, would be a fresh crop of 250 riders that are ready to put forth a vulgar display of horsepower. Want some more fuel to feed the mercury in the energy meter? All of this madness is going to be on live television! Now, that's what I'm talking about!
Let's take a look at some faces we haven't seen on the track yet in 2010, then review and get Rev'd Up about the chase for the title belt with the big boys.
The East Cost Supercross Lites class has a rich history. In its infant years, it was typically the riders from the, ahem, East Coast that rode in it. You know, so as to cut down on travel and whatnot. The modern version still harnesses some of this, but more satellite team strategies have come into play. As have injuries. If you get banged up in preseason testing, you're riding East. Same story if you're a foreigner or Frenchman in your first full season: Pichon, Fonseca, Roncada, Reed, Langston, Townley, and Pourcel have all come across the pond to kick red-white-and-blue butt. Ah, but some of the greatest riders, including the greatest rider, in history were East Coast Champions. It's also the only division that has ever been swept, and only once by Ricky Carmichael in 1998.
My boy Denny Stephenson won it in 1990. And it's the series I raced in 1996!
Anyway, this year's class is nasty. Like "The Beast From the East" Damon Bradshaw in 1989, Justin Barcia will be making a highly-touted rookie debut. It's a little difficult for me to see the #17 on someone other than Robbie Reynard, but I think Justin will do the digits proud. Listen to me when I tell you, Barcia is going to bring the heat. He’d better bring it, because something wicked this way comes in the form of another foreign invasion: C-Por is back to defend and in his wake come Tyla Rattray (once he heals up), Brett Metcalfe, Jake Moss, Steven Clarke, Adam Chatfield, and Martin Davalos. The East-Coast bunch is stacked in a big, big way.
Here are some more podium and championship threats:
Nico Izzi is back this year on a Yamaha, and if you remember back to Jacksonville in '09 when he got broke off, he was carrying the mail. He'll be very, very fast. Suzuki's Austin Stroupe is kind of a mystery. He'll have an amazing bike and he has the speed to get it done, but he needs to keep his jersey clean if he wants to become the 12th Suzuki rider to win the championship. I'm throwing Ryan Sipes’ name in with this group. Sipes is a salty veteran that has fought injuries, but has the speed to win races. Kyle Cunningham and Matthew Lemoine have been around long enough to know how to put it on the steps, and both of those riders will do just that in 2010.
This is where the energy is. The big money is still up for grabs between four riders as the 2010 series nears the halfway mark. It's a shame Josh Grant was sidelined, because he would have been interesting nestled in between RD5, RV2, JH75, and DM18. But, like #22 and #1, he's busted up. However, like any strong sporting event, it isn't the names and numbers, it's the strength of the sport that makes everything work. Long ago NASCAR sat Dale Earnhardt and Geoff Bodine down and told them, "Settle your shit right now, or you aren't racing on our tracks. We don't need you." They really didn't. Look at Monster Jam. They sat down with Bigfoot and asked them to be a part of the show and right now, Monster Jam sells out the biggest stadiums in the world, while Bigfoot performs in hockey rinks and rodeo arenas. The same with Professional Wrestling. The famed "Four Horsemen" had several different members, but it was their show that made them "High flyin’, limousine ridin', jet flyin', kiss stealin', wheelin’ dealin' sons of guns!"
It's the energy of the trade that makes it strong, not the names and numbers. It's the capacity of a system to produce work.
Four names have emerged from the bent handlebars and twisted sub-frames of the early battles. Dungey, Hill, Villopoto, and Millsaps are ready to do some serious work. Who has the edge heading into Indy? When you look at Hill, you cannot discount his five consecutive podium finishes. Dungey has led 54 laps thus far – which is 24 more than anyone else – but he's been crashing. Davi Millsaps has lost the arm pump and has been on the charge. But, I think it's RV Park's history of being a slow starter that commands respect. Villo's began outdoor series steadily, then applied a severe beating around the halfway mark. That redhead is mean and if they let him win again this weekend, look out. And who was that on the podium last weekend? Kevin Windham may be the oldest ride in the park, but he still gets some of the longest lines!
It's time to do it again, ladies and gentlemen! It's time to get the adrenaline flowing and feel the kind of energy only we supercross fans know. Who's got the energy this time? Let's all get ready to watch 'em do work in Indy!