Racer X Notebook:  New Orleans

Racer X Notebook: New Orleans

April 17, 2012 3:05pm

Authors: Jason Weigandt and Chase Stallo

  • As previously mentioned in Sign of the Lap Times, the battle for second in the East Region Lites class has reached a boiling point. Blake Wharton’s fourteenth in New Orleans, coupled with Darryn Durham’s win, leaves one point separating Durham, Wharton and Ken Roczen. If you don’t think second means anything to this trio, watch Vegas and then try uttering those same sentiments.
  • Privateer Austin Politelli, who raced everywhere from Canada to Australia to the United States last season, finished a career best ninth in New Orleans. The California native has been steady during his rookie season – making five of eight main events. Politelli’s ninth would also mark his first career top-ten in the Lites class.
  • Rockstar Star/Valli Yamaha’s Kyle Cunningham has been dealing with a fractured wrist throughout 2012, but continues to battle the pain, and is slowly improving with each passing round. New Orleans would mark a season’s best for Cunningham, as the Texas native soldiered to a sixth place finish.

Star/Valli Yamaha's Kyle Cunningham finished a seasons best sixth in New Orleans.
Carl Stone photo

  • Monster Energy Kawasaki’s Jake Weimer started the night out well with a heat race win. But in the main, he got bumped off the track and went down on the first lap, then had another crash around the mid way point. Weimer got going again and then nearly crashed for a third time. After that, he figured discreshion was the better part of valor, and packed it up to race another day. In an injury-riddled season like this, that’s not a bad idea.
  • Ivan Tedesco made his return to racing after surgery on his finger early in the year. The Dodge Motorsports/Hart and Huntington rider was running third in his heat race when he stalled, sending him to the LCQ. He then battled Davi Millsaps and Wil Hahn for a spot in the main, and when he tried to dive inside of Millsaps for the lead, Hahn railed around the outside to make the pass and steal the final spot in the main.
  • Andrew Short pitted out of the side of the Honda Muscle Milk rig, but Honda Team Manager Erik Kehoe made it clear that Short is still part of the L&Mc Racing team, not the factory unit. Although Short has a factory CRF450R, he and his team have some different sponsors, such as FMF exhausts, as opposed to Yoshimura stuff on the factory team. Hence, Short and company have to remain a separate entity. And while L&Mc’s original title sponsor, Supercross.com, is out, Team Manager Larry Brooks said they will have some new sponsorship news soon.
  • Red Bull KTM’s Ken Roczen will race the SX Class this weekend in Seattle on a 350SX-F.
  • Congrats to privateer Cody Gilmore for making the SX main event and placing 16th in the final results.
  • Blake Wharton won a race earlier this year while runnig #956 in honor of the late Jesse Masterpool, a factory-Suzuki amateur racer who passed in a crash. To pay him back for that, the Masterpool family held a special ceremony on the podium before the night show began, and presented Blake with a framed copy of this month's Racer X Illustrated, where Wharton sits on the cover wearing the #956.

Ivan Tedesco made his return from injury in New Orleans, but failed to make the main.
Carl Stone photo

  • In the Supercross class the battle for second has dwindled to two – Davi Millsaps and Justin Brayton. It took five weeks, but Ryan Dungey has finally fallen from second, leaving Millsaps and Brayton to go blow for blow down the stretch run. Millsaps currently holds a five point lead over Brayton with three rounds remaining. But we have heard there’s a chance Dungey could return for Seattle, which gives him three rounds to try to make up 14 points on Millsaps and get second back.
  • Millsaps had a rough night in New Orleans, and we don’t mean on Bourbon Street. The JGR/Toyota Yamaha rider went over the bars in his heat race and was left with a sore knee and ribs, but he came back to gut out the win in the LCQ. In the main, Millsaps was down in a first turn pileup, but managed to come back from that to finish sixth.
  • Hometown hero Kevin Windham is suffering from stretched ligaments in his wrist and two separated shoulders after his big crash in Houston, but he saddled up in New Orleans practice to see if he could race anway. He made it about two laps before realizing it wasn’t going to happen—but it was an awesome effort, for certain.
  • In other Rockstar Star/Valli news, it looks like the team is doing some reshuffling for the upcoming Lucas Oil Pro Motocross Championship. Both Nico Izzi and Ryan Sipes will be moving up from the Lites class to contest the 450 outdoors. Izzi, who has been competing on the 450 since Dallas, will finish out the season in the Supercross class rather than returning to the Lites class in Seattle this weekend. Sipes will remain on the Lites bike until the MX Nationals, when he moves to the 450.
  • BTOSports.com Suzuki’s Jimmy Albertson will be the first to admit that his 2012 SX season has been below standard. But the Big Easy was kind to Top Jimmy, as he left New Orleans with his best finish of the season—a 12th.

  • Although he has switched bikes more than Lindsay Lohan has rehab centers, Rockstar Star/Valli Yamaha’s Weston Peick continues to be one of the most consistent riders in 2012. Never known for his supercross prowess, Peick has made huge strides in 2012. New Orleans would mark a career night for Peick, as the Star/Valli backed rider secured a career best seventh.

Peick finished a career best seventh in New Orleans.
Carl Stone photo

  • Continuing down the career best trail, Honda Muscle Milk fill-in rider Wil Hahn also chalked up a career high finish in New Orleans (ninth). Hahn will now return to GEICO Honda to finish up the West Region Lites series, which restarts this weekend in Seattle.
  • A broken collarbone, which required surgery, would sideline Team Violation/Shea Racing’s Sean Lipanovich for a majority of 2012. Trying to play catch up this late in the game is never an easy task. But Lipanovich stuck with it and made his first main event of 2012 in New Orleans. Lipanovich would finish 18th on the night.

  • GEICO Honda rookie Justin Bogle has taken a lot of heat for his lack of maturity shown throughout the season. And rightfully so, as he has made his share of rookie mistakes and, at times, shown a true lack of self control. But when harnessed, his passion for winning has driven him to early success. Bogle was finally able to put it all together again in New Orleans, capturing his second career podium.
  • It was a career night for the DNA/JWR team in New Orleans. Josh Grant delivered the team’s first podium in its current alliance with Kawasaki and Ward, and teammate Kyle Chisholm had one of his best results of the season as well, finishing in eighth. His eighth would mark the second time in the last three races Chisholm finished inside the top-ten. However, team folks were quick to point out that the JWR team is really just a renamed, rebranded version of the L&M Racing team that delivered two SX titles courtesy of Chad Reed and James Stewart. These folks are not strangers to the podium!