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450 Words: Indianapolis

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Coming into Indianapolis, San Manuel Yamaha’s Josh Hill looked like everything just had to line up a little bit in order for him to break through and have his first 450cc win of the season. He had five podium finishes in a row, the last four of which were second-place finishes to three different riders – Rockstar/Makita Suzuki’s Ryan Dungey, Honda Red Bull Racing’s Davi Millsaps, and Monster Energy Kawasaki’s Ryan Villopoto.

However, in Indy, things went awry instead.

  • Ryan Villopoto won his third race in the last four to tie the points battle with Ryan Dungey.
  • Dungey finished second and is tied atop the points standings for the second-straight week, but with a different person.
  • Kevin Windham (14) fought off Villopoto for as long as he could. He still finished third.
  • Justin Brayton had his best finish of the season so far, with a fourth place.
  • Davi Millsaps (18) had the early lead, but lost it to Windham, then went backward, including a fall late in the race, to finish fifth.
  • Josh Hill had a rough night to say the least in Indianapolis, but he's still in the thick of it.
Hill got a bad start on the slick floor of Lucas Oil Stadium – after winning his heat race – and he started moving forward slowly, climbing to 10th by lap five, but falls and bobbles kept him there throughout the race. If not for his good friend Jason Lawrence, who was riding around in a similar position and slowed about five seconds on the last lap to let Hilly by, Josh Hill would’ve finished 10th in the main event. He got ninth instead.

It’s not the end of the world for Hill, though. He came into Indy tied for the points lead with Dungey, and he left Indy needing only 10 points to be in the same position again. They say championships are won on your bad weekends, and Hill’s only bad weekend so far this year still landed him solidly inside the top 10.

However, there’s a runaway train at the front of the pack that consistency alone may not be able to overcome, as Villopoto is on fire. As Chad Reed has learned in past seasons, you can’t simply be consistent and finish second or third if there’s someone else consistently winning, and that’s what Villopoto is doing now.

After a long battle with GEICO Powersports Honda’s Kevin Windham, Villopoto pulled away to score his third win of the season, and also his third in the last four races. If not for a first-turn fall at San Diego, which wasn’t his fault, he may be four for four right now since San Francisco, because that’s the only race he hasn’t won since that point. And he got fourth there, even though he was in the dirt, nearly dead last, off the start.

Villopoto is also visibly trimmer than he was to start the season, thanks to his new trainer, Darren Stockton. Things are just working right now. On a track that should’ve favored smooth riders with throttle control (like Windham or even Dungey, who finished second in Indy), Villopoto used his aggressive style to just will his bike through the turns and into the lead. If Villopoto can win in the slick stuff, watch out for when he has traction.

And he should have plenty of that this weekend in Atlanta.
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