"How was that race to watch?" Barcia asked after the victory. "It must've been awesome because it was so intense to race in."
As glorious as Barcia's night was, the rest of the evening was bittersweet for the GEICO Honda squad. Supercross rider Kevin Windham got the holeshot in his Main Event and led 11 laps before suffering a cartwheeling crash and finished 19th. GEICO Honda's other Lites rider, Blake Wharton, was run off the track while in third place in the Main, but recovered to finish the race sixth.
For Barcia it was a grand way to start the season following a 2010 season that had a lot of ups and downs.
"The bike was putting the power to the ground," Barcia said. "It was such an intense battle. When I was riding I was saying, 'Woah this is gnarly.' We had to watch our back every corner because we didn't know what each other was going to do. It was crazy."
Barcia opened the night by easily winning the first Lites East heat. The start at Reliant Stadium was tight and tricky, but Barcia shot through the hole, avoided a pileup of riders, and just checked out from there. Barcia led wire-to-wire and wasn't really pressed.
"I don't think I won a heat all last year, so that was a big confidence booster," Barcia said. "It's all about the gate drop. I'm a racer, so it's tough sometimes in practice, but it turned into a really good night."
The night was shaping up to be just as stellar for Windham. In the Main Event, he put down a solid start, led for 11 laps, and had as much as a 4.5-second lead over second place (and eventual winner) Trey Canard before disaster struck.
Windham was just past the finish line on Lap 12 and had just cleared a small jump when he landed cross-ways in a rut on the track. Bike and rider cartwheeled from there with the bike eventually landing on top of a stunned Windham once it all came to a stop.
The 17-year veteran was roughed up and suffered a slight concussion from the impact, but had no broken bones.
Wharton spent most of the Lites East race in third place battling for position with Ryan Sipes. Wharton was racing clean and defending his position, but as the laps in the Main were ticking down, Sipes got over-aggressive next to Wharton and pushed them both over the edge of a curve.
"It was looking real good there for a while," said team manager Mike LaRocco. "Blake got an unfair shake with Sipes running him off the track. Everybody was riding good tonight. Kevin led 11 great laps before that wreck took him out of it.
"We got a win, but we feel like we could have had more."
The Monster Energy Supercross Series goes back to the West Coast for a week with a trip to San Diego's Qualcomm Stadium on Feb. 19. Lites West riders Eli Tomac and Jimmy DeCotis will resume their seasons at that venue. Barcia and Wharton won't race again until the Atlanta stop on Feb. 26.