Racer X Notebook:   Las Vegas

Racer X Notebook:
Las Vegas

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  • As always, the Las Vegas track was a monster, with much longer lap times than any other stadium-based supercross. The extra time comes partially from the run outside the stadium, called Monster Alley, but the rest of the track is pretty big, as well, with very little leftover floor space. But the real separator in Las Vegas is usually the whoops, and this year was no different. The whoops were steep and deep, and with the typical dry dirt piled on top, it was easy to get wheelspin and lose momentum. Not surprisingly, the whoops changed the outcome of several races. In the Lites East final, Blake Baggett was losing time to Ryan Sipes through them for most of the race, but once he found the right line, he was able to make a run for the win. And in the supercross class, James Stewart crashed in the whoops while leading and took second-place Kevin Windham down with him.

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Vegas is by far one of the longest tracks on circuit.
Photo: Matty Fran

  • Sam Boyd Stadium boasts a large grass area beside the stadium, and it is used to create the largest pit area on the 17-race tour. Interactive displays are everywhere, including a Nuclear Cowboys display, a massive stage and seating area where riders and other guests stopped in for interviews, and even a street-bike stunt demo area.

 

  • In his heat race, Stewart jumped a big quad jump in a section most riders were using to double-double. And in one of his typical tricks, he only jumped it once, to make sure the competition wouldn’t get a look at it. In the main event, Stewart was under some pressure to get away from Windham, so he busted out the quad again—but Windham immediately went for it as well and cleared it. No one else jumped the quad all night, but it was an impressive show of gamesmanship from Windham.

 

  • The Stewart/Windham crash was a tough one, and Windham had to take an ambulance ride to check on his spleen. He was released with bruised internals and a hyperextended knee, with hopes to still recover and race the opener for the Lucas Oil AMA Pro Motocross Championship in two weeks at Hangtown, where he is a fill-in rider for Team Honda’s injured Josh Grant and Trey Canard. As for Stewart, he announced in a video on his website that he was sore but otherwise okay.

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It looks like the TwoTwo will be lining up come Hangtown.
Photo: Simon Cudby

  • It appears Chad Reed will race the Lucas Oil AMA Pro Motocross Championship, and do it with his TwoTwo Motorsports Bel-Ray Racing team (some suspected he would take one of the vacated Team Honda spots). Reed’s team continues to get additional support from the factory team, with not only works parts on his bike, but also help under the tent from the factory mechanics. Also, the team is entering silly season talks for more than just Reed—rumors suggest the squad may find the funding to make Ryan Dungey an offer for 2012.

 

As for James Stewart’s status for the outdoor motocross tour, some officials on the San Manuel Red Bull Yamaha team have been saying the team may race the first four races, but nothing has been confirmed.

 

  • The Lites West main event definitely had its share of controversy when Cole Seely and Kyle Cunningham made passing tough on Eli Tomac, who was battling Broc Tickle for the championship. Seely is a Honda rider and was expected to make things easier for Tomac. Seely and Tickle both share the same trainer and do sometimes work together during the week. Seely, though, denied the claims, saying he was simply racing as hard as he could for himself. Look for a Seely interview here later today.

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Seely didn't make things easy on Eli Tomac at Vegas.
Photo: Simon Cudby

  • Why didn’t Josh Hansen race the East/West shootout? The East and West main events also served as qualifying heat races, and when Hansen crashed in the West race, he finished tenth, one spot out of qualifying position. He then explained that he had no idea the main event served as a qualifier, and he didn’t even realize he was supposed to race an LCQ until that race had already begun!

 

  • In the home town race for his Dodge Motorsports Hart and Huntington team, Chris Blose logged the best ride of his career with fourth in the SX Class. Australian rookie Tye Simmonds collected a career-best tenth on his J-Star/JDR KTM, and Arenacross Champion Tyle Bowers finished right behind in a solid eleventh on his Monster Energy Babbitt’s Kawasaki.

 

  • Flat tires were an issue in the race, with many suspecting that parts of the over-under bridge did the damage. Andrew Short got a flat tire while leading his heat race, and then Davi Millsaps got one while running top-five in the main event. Overall, this was a race of attrition. Stewart, Reed and Mike Alessi crashed out, Justin Brayton didn’t line up due to an ankle injury suffered in his heat race, Millsaps dropped out with the flat, and Michael Byrne, Tommy Hahn and Robert Kiniry also failed to finish. Only 12 riders were still out there by the end of the 20 laps!

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Will Stewart be on the gate come Hangtown?
Photo: Simon Cudby

  • Supercross producer Feld Motorsports announced a new event in Las Vegas scheduled for October 15, dubbed the Monster Energy Cup. This race, which essentially replaces the MGM Grand based U.S. Open, will take place at Sam Boyd Stadium and offer a unique track designed to blend supercross and motocross elements. There are hopes that some riders from the European-based Grand Prix series would be willing to race on that type of track. The event will run with a three main event format, each lasting ten laps. The overall winner of the race will win $250,000, and a rider can earn $1 Million if he sweeps all three mains. Amateur riders will get their chance to shine with the Supermini and 250 A Classes competing as well. The Monster Energy Cup will be broadcast live on SPEED.

 

Feld also released the 2012 Monster Energy Supercross Schedule. It looks similar to the 2011 schedule, but with New Orleans rejoining the tour to replace the Jacksonville, Florida round from 2011.

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Chad Reed took home the Bret Michaels "Rock Hard - Ride Hard" Award.
Photo: Simon Cudby

  • Las Vegas also hosts the annual Monster Energy SX Awards Ceremony at The Joint inside the Hard Rock Hotel and Casino. This event is all glitz and glamour. Here is a list of award winners:

 

  • Rookie of the Year – Trey Canard (American Honda)
  • Transport Driver of the Year – Ricky Jurado (DNA Shred Stix/Star Racing Yamaha)
  • Fans Choice – Kevin Windham (GEICO Honda)
  • Humanitarian of the Year – MX for Children – Accepted on behalf of MX for Children by Director Brett Wise
  • Rising Star – Ken Roczen (Red Bull KTM)
  • Nuclear Cowboyz Holeshot Awards – 2011 Winners
  • Team of the Year – TwoTwo Motorsports/Bel Ray Racing
  • MMI Top Tech – 2011 Winners
  • Supercross Class Champions Mechanic – Mike Williamson (Monster Energy Kawasaki)
  • Team Manager of the Year – Dave Osterman (TwoTwo Motorsports/Bel Ray Racing)
  • Road 2 Recovery Main Jet Award – Jimmy Button
  • Western Regional Supercross Lites Class Champion – Broc Tickle (Monster Energy/Pro Circuit/Kawasaki)
  • Eastern Regional Supercross Lites Class Champion – Justin Barcia (GEICO Honda)
  • Dave Coombs Sr. Supercross Lites East/ West Shootout – Ryan Sipes (DNA Shred Stix/Star Racing Yamaha)
  • C. E. Altman Lifetime Achievement – Johnny O’Mara
  • Supercross Class Fourth Place – James Stewart (San Manuel Yamaha)
  • Supercross Class Third Place – Ryan Dungey (Rockstar/Makita Suzuki)
  • Supercross Class Second Place – Chad Reed (TwoTwo Motorsports/Bel Ray Racing)
  • Supercross Class Champion – Ryan Villopoto (Monster Energy Kawasaki)
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