10 Things to Watch For at Daytona

10 Things To Watch For at Daytona

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This weekend the 2011 Monster Energy Supercross tour heads south to Daytona for the ninth round of Monster Engery Supercross. The 450 race and 250 race will air LIVE on SPEED on Saturday at 7:30 pm (EST), and you can count on the Racer X Online team to lead the way in live updates, Twitter reports, and videos. Here are 10 things to watch for in Daytona.

10. Setting Up: Nothing else on this circuit, or any other, really, is like Daytona. It’s not quite a sand track, it’s not quite a typical supercross track, and it’s not really an outdoor motocross style circuit anymore, either. Big changes started happening in the mid-2000s, as the track and race format began to become less motocross and more supercross. It caught people off guard—Ricky Carmichael missed the 2004 event with an injury, and when he returned in 2005 running an outdoor setup, he missed the mark and lost the race to Chad Reed. Nowadays most riders run their regular supercross setup, but even that isn’t perfect here.

9. Stepping Up: Could the fresh Florida sunshine and a little bit different atmosphere help someone new? As Steve Matthes described in Going for the W: Daytona yesterday, five riders have dominated this series in the SX Class. Who could break through this weekend? Andrew Short is on a roll. Davi Millsaps looked ready for a breakthrough in Atlanta but didn’t get it. Maybe now is the time. Justin Brayton has shown speed this year. And Kevin Windham has won this race before. Is there room for any of these riders on the podium?

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Can Short break up the party of five.
Photo: Andrew Fredrickson

8. RC’s Track: Carmichael eventually figured out Daytona again and won it in 2006, although James Stewart was leading and then crashed spectacularly. Nowadays RC helps design the course, and you can bet he’s brought in a little bit of that old-school outdoor flavor. We’re also hearing lap times will go over the minute mark, longer than a regular indoor SX, but still shorter than Daytona back in the day. And this track features supercross obstacles, unlike most outdoor tracks. Even with RC at the helm, it’s a mix, but you can bet he’ll make it tough.

7. Barcia’s Wrist: Bam Bam won Houston, then crashed in Atlanta practice and hurt his wrist. He soldiered on to net second last weekend with a wrist brace on, but will he be healed up enough to handle a longer, rougher main event here? If not, he could be handing over major championship points.

6. Once You Win the First…: The rest are supposed to come easy. Dean Wilson has broken through, and his outdoor success last year showed that he can use his lanky frame to suck up the big bumps and develop some speed on the rough stuff. On Daytona’s fast, whooped-out sections, he’ll be tough. And if he wins two in a row, the series could be his for the taking.

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Can Wilson make it two in a row at Daytona?
Photo: Andrew Fredrickson

5. Waiting for Dungey...Still: No wins yet for the champ, but he’s not too far out of the points race when you consider A): he derailed a chain and lost at least 15 points in Anaheim, and B): With the top five so close, he could easily win a race and see the points leader (Villopoto in this case) take fifth, which would net him a nine-point gain. He’s 26 back right now. We know he’s fit and he does work in Florida. The only problem is, so does everyone else!

4. Villo Show: You can make a pretty good case that Ryan Villopoto was the fastest rider through the month of January, as his Anaheim 1 and Los Angeles wins, and his challenge to Stewart in Phoenix, were all impressive. February wasn’t quite the same, though, and while he scored a win last weekend, he needed that epic Stewart/Reed crash to do it. And his ten point lead looks good, but points will be gained and lost quickly with this deep field. Can RV reestablish himself this weekend?

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The battle continues.
Photo: Andrew Fredrickson

3. Bike Week: There’s much, much more than just a supercross going on this week. Daytona is nuts, Daytona is crazy, and even if you try to just get to and from the speedway for the races, you won’t be able to ignore the mega Harley crowd. If you have a day (or night), dive in.

2. Bike Week: And if you’re not there to party, maybe you like the racing. Every major AMA Series will compete during Bike Week, including Superbikes, Flat Track, RCU and the GNCC down the road on Tuesday. Expand your boundaries. The racing is good everywhere down here.

1. Stewart/Reed: It’s the elephant in the room. Chad Reed definitely wanted to keep the peace between himself and James Stewart after last week’s run in—he even told us he hoped they could maintain their new friendship. Stewart kept saying it was just racing, even though he was obviously mad. So, they’ll come to this race trying to put it all behind them. But can they?

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