It is hard to imagine that we’re already 10 laps away from the series being halfway over. Steve Matthes made this point during his Pulp MX practice report podcast from Atlanta (thanks for letting me join in, Steve!), declaring that, “you can’t divide 17 in half,” so when the flagger in St. Louis holds out the cross flags on lap 10, maybe he should hold out two sets? Anyways, there is a lot of racing remaining. That noted, if your name isn’t Davi Millsaps you’re probably wishing you could start over.
In Atlanta, Millsaps (Rockstar Energy Racing) extended his point lead for the fifth week in a row. His 22-point lead reminds me of another #22 that made a career out of performances which Davi has produced in 2013, but that two-two has yet to get going. One of the most popular phrases racers make now a days is the declaration of, “Just taking it one race at a time.” You can expect to hear that from Millsaps until Las Vegas, but even as strong and consistent as he has been, he is only one bad race away from a hornet’s nest.
Millsaps holds a comfortable 22-point lead over Villopoto through eight rounds.
Simon Cudby photo
Ryan Villopoto (Monster Energy Kawasaki) has now moved into second in series points for the first time in 2013. Pre-season, many would have expected him to be leading by now. So nobody saw this, or the half dozen trips to the mat he's taken, coming out of the two-time defending champion. But, with a win and a steady second place outing in the last two rounds, he is already on a path to make it interesting come round 17. Yesterday, Jason Thomas' The Moment centered around a single obstacle making the difference between Villopoto and James Stewart (Yoshimura Suzuki). You have to ask yourself if Ryan would have held back like that earlier in the season. He was quoted in Dallas about being cognizant that if he felt that he was a second or a third place guy, he needed to accept it, be happy, and stay steady. Again, it’s been a quick turn around in the past two weeks and you can actually look at Villopoto's second place in Atlanta being a victory.
This reminds of Ryan Villopoto’s 2008 East Coast 250 effort. That year in Atlanta, he got cannon-balled by Josh Grant and didn’t finish the opener. Took him a few races to get going, but then he clicked off wins and was, “just waiting for a mistake,” from point leader Trey Canard. RV patiently stalked the rookie until he finally got that mistake, when Canard stumbled at the next to the last round. Villopoto finally got back into striking distance, setting up a mano y mano brawl between the two. The championship climax was Ryan slamming into the finish line structure - and Canard winning the title. Still, RV proved he could make up ground with the best of them.
Can RV pick up more ground in St. Louis?
Simon Cudby photo
The next two races on the board (St. Louis and especially Daytona) have historically been some of the wildest of the series. Looking at the points, Villopoto is 22 behind Millsaps, then Ryan Dungey (Red Bull KTM) is merely four more back, and Trey Canard (Muscle Milk Honda) is quietly sitting in fourth place only 13 points behind Dungey. Like I said at the top of the page, it’s going to take one very bad race, or several mediocre ones from Millsaps for them to catch him, but if they do we could see a four-way dog fight in Las Vegas.
How about this for a kicker to close 450 words out; imagine a Chase format. What if they reset the points with six rounds remaining and awarded bonus points for wins and/or fastest qualifying times? Certainly James Stewart would smile at this. Do we need something like that to make our sport more interesting? Or, is it enough to see the guys race through 17 rounds healthy and, “may the best man win?” Definitely something to think about.