By Jason Weigandt and Chase Stallo
Hard, slick dirt made for a tough track in Dallas. Traction was an issue, obviously, but perhaps a bigger factor was the hard landings, which made the jumps unforgiving. Riders were down all over the place in practice—both 250 East riders making their series debut, but also experienced 450 pilots. Also, since the 450 class featured 46 riders, the class was split into two practice groups (Anaheim 1, for example, had 56 450 entrants which created a third practice group, resulting in fewer riders on the track in each session). There was a little extra traffic in each 450 session, and the crashes led to more yellow flags and slower laps. In general, a lot of riders mentioned how hard it was to get in a clean qualifying lap.
What was the track like? “It was really hard to race it,” said JGR Toyota Yamaha’s Justin Brayton. “Super slick, and then you’d come to some spots where it was really, really tacky, and there were holes. It was really unpredictable and especially as the main event wore on it got really nasty.”
Last summer, Wil Hahn was lighting up the starts in the 250 class, but he hasn’t gotten the holeshot magic going on his 450 this year. He did holeshot his semi in Dallas, though. “It is there, it’s close,” said Hahn about getting a main event holeshot. “It’s tough because we got 22 great starters on the gate. So I’m one of 22 right now. I think that for me to do that I need to get out of that heat race, get myself a good gate pick, and I think the Wil Hahn start will come out. But I can’t start by Mike Alessi though, because he out jumped me today.”
Speaking of Alessi, the SmarTop MotoConcepts rider put in a good effort just to make the main event after a huge practice crash. He finished 19th.
We’ve come to really admire the candor and humor of the weekly Soaring Eagle Casino RCH Suzuki team press releases. Here’s a quote from this week’s edition: Heat #1saw Broc Tickle with the fourth gate pick. When the race started, two Suzuki’s were running in the top three … unfortunately for RCH, it was James Stewart and privateer Weston Peick.
On to the lap times!
|Lap Rank||Finish||Best Lap||In Lap||Avg Lap Time||Rider|
|Lap Rank||Finish||Best Lap||In Lap||Avg Lap Time||Rider|
One week after locking horns with Ryan Villopoto, James Stewart was tasked with dealing with another Ryan in Dallas—Ryan Dungey. Stewart struck quick, just like in San Diego and used the triple after the finish line to put some space between himself and Dungey. Although Dungey did pick up on the line, Stewart was able to withstand his charge. Let’s take a side-by-side comparison of their lap times.
|Lap||James Stewart||Ryan Dungey|
“I started to tense up like lap nine. I looked up at the board and I was like, ‘Man, my arms are already pumping up!’ That’s from not having enough time on the bike, I think,” Blake Baggett told Racer X’s Jason Weigandt following Dallas. With just a little over a week on the bike before the East Region opener, Baggett admitted his fitness was not where he expects it to be. Take a look at how much time Adam Cianciarulo picked up on Baggett after he began to “tighten” up on lap 9.
|Lap||Adam Cianciarulo||Blake Baggett|
One of the big stories coming out of the Big D was Justin Barcia’s whip over a triple, directly in front of Ken Roczen. We’re not here to play judge, jury and executioner on Barcia’s move. We’re here to look at lap charts. So, let’s compare lap times before the incident (which took place on lap 6) and after.
|Lap||Justin Barcia||Ken Roczen|
Before “The Whip” Roczen had closed on Barcia and was trying to find a way around him. After it, Roczen’s pace dropped slightly, resulting in a sixth for him and a third for Barcia.
More News and Notes:
Privateer Brady Kiesel suffered a broken jaw in practice on Saturday, but is still hoping to race in Atlanta. He Tweeted the following Saturday:
Broken jaw in 2 places super bummed surgery in the morning.— Brady Kiesel (@brady_kiesel) February 16, 2014
I was gonna race but parents didn't let me! Planning on Atlanta next week— Brady Kiesel (@brady_kiesel) February 16, 2014
Privateer Justin Starling also had a big crash Saturday when he cased a triple while running inside the top ten in his heat race. According to his posts on Twitter, he should be okay for this weekend:
Well I pulled a Malcolm Stewart 2011 haha. I am alive and well. My neck and throat got beat up and asterisk sent me to hospital. I AM OKAY!— Justin Starling (@Starling712) February 16, 2014
My throat and neck hurt pretty bad. I cannot talk. But leaving hospital soon. Planning on ATL. My confidence is sky high right now!So happy— Justin Starling (@Starling712) February 16, 2014
Thank you everyone for the tweets and text messages. Just because I crashed doesn't mean you won't see me anymore! Bring on ATL!— Justin Starling (@Starling712) February 16, 2014
In both 2012 and 2013, Gannon Audette crashed out of the entire 250SX East Championship in practice at Dallas. The privateer was more than happy to have made it through the night show this time. “Well, I made it through Dallas safe and made the main so I guess I can't complain about anything,” he tweeted on Sunday. The Minnesota native was actually pitting out of the Legends and Heroes display in the pits, and he finished 16th in his first main event since 2011.
CycleTrader.com Rock River Yamaha’s Alex Martin finished inside the top ten for the first time since Houston in 2012, after missing all of the 2013 Monster Energy Supercross season with a wrist injury.
It was a tough start to the East Region for GEICO Honda. Rookie Matt Bisceglia lost his rear brake on the parade lap in Dallas and struggled to a nineteenth place finish. “[I] did a practice start in the parade lap, and totally over-shot the first corner because I had no brake. Just a little malfunction with the bike, unfortunately, so I couldn't jump the big jumps with the other bikes,” said Bisceglia in a team release. Meanwhile, title contender Blake Wharton had his own problems en route to seventh. “I raced up to fourth or fifth and then slid down in the second corner, which was another place where everyone was going down. I got right back up but could only manage a seventh-place finish. At least we got some solid points. I expected more and will get more at the next race."
TiLube/Storm Lake Honda’s Gavin Faith was flying all day and night in Dallas, and worked his way into third in the main event after Yamalube Star Racing Yamaha’s Anthony Rodriguez went down. Faith looked to have a podium on lock until a late crash sent him off the track and damaged his bike, knocking him out of the race.
After making just one main event during his rookie season, Minnesota privateer Jesse Wentland got off to a great start in Dallas, finishing a career high fourteenth.
By far the best race of the year for CycleTrader.com Rock River Yamaha’s Kyle Chisholm, who took 13th in the 450 class. Combined with Alex Martin’s ninth in the 250SX class, Rock River had riders in both mains for the first time in its history.
When was the last time Monster Energy Pro Circuit Kawasaki swept a supercross podium? Anaheim 1 in 2011, courtesy of Josh Hansen, Broc Tickle and Tyla Rattray.
Great return to racing for Justin “Pooh” Sipes, brother of former 250SX contender Ryan Sipes. Pooh was knocked out of racing for nearly a year following a knee injury, but was right back in the mix in his Dallas return, making the 450 main and scoring 16th. Ryan Sipes, by the way, will be racing the Amsoil Grand National Cross Country Series (GNCC) this year on a Rockstar KTM.