450 Words:  Houston

450 Words Houston

April 1, 2012 3:40pm
Ryan Villopoto entered Houston, Texas with the chance to do something remarkable—clinch the Monster Energy Supercross Championship with four rounds yet to run. It continues an amazing run for the Monster Energy Kawasaki rider, who has now won everything he has aimed for—AMA SX, AMA MX, Motocross of Nations and Monster Energy Cup—since 2011.

While Villopoto was aiming to make history in Texas, another rider, long since eliminated from title contention, saw an opportunity to make some history of his own. Kevin Windham has always had an ability to rise to the occasion when the opportunity to get a win presents itself. His wins very often come of the opportunist variety, such as in 2010, when Windham won two of the last three supercross races while Ryan Dungey was left focusing on wrapping up the championship. Later that summer, Dungey dominated the Lucas Oil AMA Pro Motocross Championship, but made one mistake—he crashed early in the first moto at Steel City. The opportunity was there for someone else to win, and Windham rode his heart out in the motos to deliver the overall victory. At the end of the day, the veteran explained how badly his back hurt from hammering out two hard motos at the sharp end of the pack—but in the race he blocked it out to get the win.

No one has ever wrapped up a title as early in the season as Villopoto this year.
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Last year in Houston, opportunity knocked again. Windham is always strong at this race-- one of the closest to his home—and he tucked inside off of the start and grabbed the lead while most of his toughest competitors were down in a big first-turn crash. Windham tried to check out, and looked like a winner until the halfway mark, when he went down in a heap. He was pushing it trying to get away from the field.

With a lot of top talent out and Villopoto in possible championship-protect mode, Windham smelled blood in Houston this year. He let it hang out in practice and landed the fastest laps both times. And in his heat race, he faced off against Stewart in a superb battle. Stewart had the lead on the last lap, but Windham wanted it badly, and he pushed so hard that he ended up going down, again. And out of the race, again.

"I've hurt my left thumb and wrist and my right shoulder," Windham said. "They took some x-rays but they were inconclusive. They put a cast on my arm and wrapped up my shoulder. I'm going back home and I'll go to my personal doctor tomorrow. I really have no idea how serious it is because they just couldn't tell. It would be crazy for me to speculate on what might happen from here."

Windham is banged up again, and no one yet knows if he’ll be back for another shot at a W in New Orleans. But surely if there is any chance at all that he can go, he’ll do it. Windham likes to answer the door when opportunity knocks.

Even at 34 years old, make no mistake--Windham will still go for it if the chance to win presents itself.
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