10 Things to Watch: St. Louis

10 Things To Watch St. Louis

March 1, 2013 10:10am

By Aaron Hansel and Chase Stallo

Eli Tomac
The arrival of the Western Regional 250SX reigning champ in the 450SX class in Atlanta was something to get excited about. After all, Tomac himself has been vocal about preferring the 450, and he's looked plenty capable on it at last year's Monster Energy Cup and the Bercy SX. In Atlanta, Tomac showed some serious promise in practice in, but when the gate dropped in the main, a poor start relegated him to seventh place in his premier debut, which is still pretty good. After the race Tomac admitted that racing a 20-lap main on a 450 was a bigger eye-opener than expected. “Just seeing the guys I was on the track with kind of blew my mind, it was something new,” Tomac explained. With first race jitters now a thing of the past, how will Tomac do this weekend in St. Louis? -Hansel

Supercross qualifying sessions are often quite engaging. Watching the guys battle it out for the top qualifying honors is not only entertaining, but insightful as well, and from the live streaming coverage (which you’ll find right here on Racer X Online on race day) to live timing and scoring now available on your mobile device via the AMA SX app, the afternoon action has never been more accessible. Throw in the deepest 450 field we've ever seen at mid-season (there are seriously eight or nine riders who could put their number on top of the board) and you've got a great race within the race.  -Hansel

Will Tomac break through in St. Louis?
Simon Cudby photo

Broken Ice
Before Atlanta, Yoshimura Suzuki’s James Stewart had not won a supercross race since Daytona last season. That’s nearly a year-long drought from the racer who was once frequently referred to as the fastest man on the planet! After the win, Stewart was clearly overjoyed, and the win seemed to awaken a spark we haven’t seen in him for quite some time. “It’s a huge confidence booster. I feel like I’m going to be a different person for the rest of the season,” he said. Will Stewart keep things rolling this weekend in St. Louis? -Hansel

Star Racing’s Jeremy Martin is fast, and it showed in Atlanta, where he finished fifth just one week after failing to qualify in his pro supercross debut. Martin referred to the snafu in Dallas as “embarrassing,” and although he was much happier about his top five result, he still wasn’t satisfied. “I want to be up front batting for a win. That’s just kind of my mentality,” Martin said in the pits after the race. “Nothing is more fun than winning, and that’s what the team and I both work for.” Will Martin achieve his goal of battling with the likes of Dean Wilson, Wil Hahn and Marvin Musquin in St. Louis? -Hansel

The LCQs
With so much talent present in the 450SX class, there’s bound to be something to watch every time the gate drops, and this has been especially true in the LCQs this year. In Atlanta, Bobby Kiniry and Weston Peick put on a tremendous battle for the final transfer spot with Peick placing more pressure on Kiniry than the IRS on Willie Nelson. And this was behind full-fledged race win contender Trey Canard, who had to race the LCQ, too. The bout ended with Peick spinning out and going down, a result of simply giving it every ounce of effort he had, and then some. How will the LCQs play out tomorrow night? -Hansel

Jeremy Martin looks to keep the ball rolling in St. Louis.
Simon Cudby photo

Familiar Territory
Following a second place finish at the East Region opener in Dallas, Rockstar Energy Racing’s Blake Wharton was a tick off the leaders in Atlanta en route to a fourth. The five-year SX 250F veteran preached about being consistent through the first few rounds during the off-season, which has lead him just seven points back of leader Dean Wilson. With two of the next three rounds (St. Louis and Indy) playing host to the East Region—home of Wharton’s only two 250SX wins—the Texan finds himself in a familiar place—in position to challenge for a championship. Can Wharton begin his title push at the site of his first professional victory in ’09? - Stallo

Still in Contention
Most of the 450SX title talks have centered on points leader Davi Millsaps and two-time defending champion Ryan Villopoto. But the ever-consistent Ryan Dungey is still very much in the thick of the title hunt at just 26 back of Millsaps and four back of Villopoto. One crash of mistake but the #18 or #1 and Dungey is right there with them, and the St. Louis race has hosted that kind of craziness before (oh, like that 2006 race, when both Stewart and Ricky Carmichael crashed out and Chad Reed went from third to first in one night). Dungey knows last weeks sixth in Atlanta won’t cut it if he has any hopes of capturing his second 450SX crown. Can Dungey rebound in St. Louis and pick up ground on the leaders? - Stallo

No Rest for the Weary
Monster Energy Kawasaki’s Jake Weimer returned in Atlanta following two weeks on the sidelines with broken ribs. Although Weimer struggled to keep pace after a third place start in the main, he was able to withstand late pressure from Chad Reed to hold onto eighth. With another week to lick his wounds, will Weimer return to his early season form in St. Louis? – Stallo

Kyle Chisholm will make his second apperance under the JGR tent in St. Louis.
Simon Cudby photo

Privateer Watch
The 250SX East Region has produced some surprising rides from privateers Kyle Peters (AG Motorsports), Cole Thompson, rookie Mitchell Oldenburg, Adam Gulley, Lance Vincent (Munn KTM) and Jimmy DeCotis. Now that the cards are on the table, will these under-the-radar young guns keep the ball rolling in the Show Me State? – Stallo

New Beginnings
Following the collapse of Velocity 3 Yamaha, Bobby Kiniry (N-Fab/TiLUBE Yamaha) and Kyle Chisholm (Toyota/JGR Yamaha) have found new homes. Chisholm struggled with crashes and a bad gate pick in the LCQ in his debut last week, while Kiniry will make his introduction in St. Louis. The turmoil of losing your ride during the season can be hazardous to a rider. With each back on solid ground will it begin to show in their results? - Stallo


Dirt Watch
No secret that the riders haven't been happy with the tracks lately. Obstacles have been tame, passing spots rare, and the dirt has been hard and slick. St. Louis usually boasts the best dirt in the series, although with the way once-tacky venues like Atlanta and Indianapolis have hardened up over the last few years, you can' count on anything anymore. Will the STL groove up and lend itself to new lines and passing opportunities? - Jason Weigandt