Ryan Villopoto may have already clinched the 2012 Monster Energy AMA Supercross Championship, but the battle for second between Team Honda Muscle Milk’s Justin Brayton and JGR Toyota’s Davi Millsaps is still wide open. Right now a rejuvenated Millsaps enjoys a ten point advantage over his former teammate, but with four races remaining, the fight for the runner-up position is far from over. The right performance from Millsaps in New Orleans will put him one step closer to second on the season, while a strong ride from Brayton is just what he needs to take this battle down to the wire.
Who’s Got Next? There is no doubt that Villopoto is by far the best rider in the series right now. That said, there are still plenty of riders that are fast enough to take advantage of a mistake from RV, should he make one. Millsaps and Brayton have been surging lately, while Jake Weimer has also shown moments of blinding speed this season. Will RV put in another flawless performance tomorrow night in New Orleans, or will a different rider rise to the occasion and put an end to Villopoto’s perfect run down the final stretch of the season?
Brayton is making a play for second in the series. Can he achieve this quest? Simon Cudby photo
Redemption Phil Nicoletti started his season out the right way when he busted out a top-five finish at the season opener in Dallas. Not only was it a great ride in a stacked class, it was also a personal best for Nicoletti. Unfortunately, thanks to crashes and mechanical issues, Nicoletti put together a string of DNQs and DNFs that didn’t end until last week in Houston, where Nicoletti nailed down another fifth place. With only two Eastern Regional Supercross Lites races remaining, you can bet that Nicoletti is looking to finish strong and gain some momentum coming into the outdoor season. Will the New Yorker put together another great ride, or will the bad luck he’s been suffering from this season reach out and bite him again?
What Happens in New Orleans…Stays on Vital MX It's no secret that for the most part, motorcycle people like to party, and the dirt bike crowd is definitely no exception. Well, this weekend the industry could be in major trouble, as the series once again returns to New Orleans, one of the greatest and most opportunistic party cities on the planet. Considering the festive atmosphere of the Big Easy, along with its myriad of enticing temptations, it's not really a question of if, but who, will have compromising pictures of themselves surface on the internet following the weekend?
Mookie Fever, or Lack Thereof Thanks to run-ins with other riders, crashes and several mechanical problems, Malcolm Stewart has yet to meet the expectations that many of the fans, members of the media, and most likely himself, placed on him at the beginning of the season. How bad is it? So far Stewart has failed to break into the top five, he’s missed two main events, and after Houston, our own Steve Matthes reported in his, Observations, column, that he is almost completely cured of the Mookie Fever that effected him so profoundly just a few short weeks ago. Can Stewart turn things around in New Orleans this weekend before heading into the break?
Can Mookie find his mojo in the Big Easy? Simon Cudby photo
Reversing Trend For the first time in a long while, we have more riders returning to action than we saw get hurt at the previous race. Ivan Tedesco, Nick Wey, Andrew Short and Ben LaMay are all scheduled to do battle tomorrow night in New Orleans after missing races. Tedesco was out with broken fingers, Wey suffered from several muscle tears, Short had a separated AC joint, while LaMay was dealing with a fractured hand. How will these riders fair in the first race back?
Will Broc Bring It? Monster Energy Pro Circuit Kawasaki’s Broc Tickle had the best result of his season in Houston two weeks ago with a seventh place. While many riders would be thrilled to have finished in the top ten this year, it’s not where Tickle wants to be, even with a depleted field. Will Tickle build on his season high and secure the first premier class top five of his career?
Catch the Rhythm No, we’re not referring to the unique blend of music that can be found in The Big Easy, we’re talking about a particular rhythm section that will be featured on the track in New Orleans this weekend. To get a visual of what we’re talking about, check out the track map and fix your eyes on the section that is right before the section that precedes the whoops. From the way it looks on the track map, that rhythm section has the potential to present several tricky options that could make for some interesting moments when the bikes hit the track. Will it create some entertaining choices in person, or will the riders quickly break in a single line and stick to it?
Will Barcia clinch the title in New Orleans? Simon Cudby photo
Replacement Wonder Bobby Kiniry started his season out in Oakland as a replacement rider with Star Valli Yamaha, and has proven to be quite a solid finisher for the team. He’s made all but one main event, has worked his way into fifteenth in the points despite not racing the first three rounds, and has been putting in some great results lately, including a season high of sixth place in Houston. Is sixth as high as Kiniry will get, or will he give Star Valli Yamaha their first premier class top-five tomorrow night?
Who’s Got Next Part II Barring an extreme catastrophe, Justin Barcia will be your 2012 Eastern Regional Supercross Lites Champion. Of course, that doesn’t mean the other guys wouldn’t love to get a win going into the East Coast break. So far, only Blake Wharton and Ken Roczen have been able to steal wins from Barcia, while the Pro Circuit boys have somehow managed to go winless in the east so far. Will someone step up to challenge Barcia in New Orleans, or will Bam Bam take home yet another first-place trophy?