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Caution: do not forget about Ken Roczen. After James Stewart took the last two main event wins and closed to within 14 points of series leader Ryan Villopoto, it seemed like still-second-in-points Kenny was actually being forgotten about. In a season featuring big headlines like the resurgence of Stewart and Reed, Villopoto’s continued run out front, some struggles for talents like Justin Barcia and Eli Tomac, and on, it seems like Kenny ends up getting overshadowed. But tonight, the kid staked his claim (again) by outdueling his training partner Villopoto for his second career 450SX win. Roczen stood second in points, just 12 down, coming into the race. Now he’s only out by nine on RV—the kid is in it to win it

Oh let’s just hold off on the 450 talk for a second. MARTIN DAVALOS FINALY DID IT! He got his first career 250SX main event win. After years and years of coming so close so many times, the Ecuadorian just blitzed the field like he probably could or should have done so many times before. Why now? What’s changed? Davalos told us he’s worked very hard on his mental game, seeing some people about it and learning to think positive. He works hard on just trying to ride his laps instead of thinking about the race and what position he’s in. With this win, it’s very possible the flood gates are about to open and many more will be coming soon.

Davalos made a quick early move on his teammate Adam Cianciarulo early, then rode solid laps to do the deed. Well, there was one stumble with a big mistake on the last lap. “I had a lot of things running through my mind!” said Davalos about that last lap.

Making things even sweeter, Davalos’ family was on hand, the first time he’s ever had so many relatives at a race in the U.S. “I haven’t even seen my mom in a year and she was here tonight,” he explained.

Less noticed, but still solid was the Davalos and Cianciarulo teammate, Blake Baggett. A terrible start in the main saw him outside the top ten but he charged back up to salvage fifth.Photo: Simon Cudby
Less noticed, but still solid was the Davalos and Cianciarulo teammate, Blake Baggett. A terrible start in the main saw him outside the top ten but he charged back up to salvage fifth.Photo: Simon Cudby

Okay, back to your regularly scheduled 450SX programming….

Caution: do not forget about Ken Roczen. After James Stewart took the last two main event wins and closed to within 14 points of series leader Ryan Villopoto, it seemed like still-second-in-points Kenny was actually being forgotten about. In a season featuring big headlines like the resurgence of Stewart and Reed, Villopoto’s continued run out front, some struggles for talents like Justin Barcia and Eli Tomac, and on, it seems like Kenny ends up getting overshadowed. But tonight, the kid staked his claim (again) by outdueling his training partner Villopoto for his second career 450SX win. Roczen stood second in points, just 12 down, coming into the race. Now he’s only out by nine on RV—the kid is in it to win it

When a 19-year-old like Roczen does so well, it’s easy to assume that youthful exuberance and wide-open, aggressive charges are the driving force. But Kenny isn’t really like that. Since his earliest days on the international radar, he’s been known for smart line choices, smart riding and a general maturity beyond his years. It showed in Atlanta because the track was super tough and beat up, the jumps were peaked, the whoops were big, the dirt changed from soft and sticky to hard and dry in spots—overall riders had to adapt to win and Roczen did the best job of it.

Oh, so this Villopoto/Roczen training deal is going to break up after this, right? Nope. Villopoto told us, with a smile, “If anyone else but me is going to win I’d like it to be Kenny.”

Villopoto looked off (based on his usual standards) all day, taking sixth and seventh in the timed practices. He says he was just struggling in the whoops and couldn’t figure out why. After experimenting with bike changes, in the end, he and his Monster Energy Kawasaki team decided to just go back to their original setup from the beginning of the day. RV then rose to the challenge when the night show began, winning his heat race (even riding away from Justin Brayton, who was notably faster than Villopoto in practice) and then leading most of the main event. He made one big mistake on the rutted track, though, and couldn’t jump a triple. Kenny sailed by to take the lead and the win.

Broc Tickle looked faster in Atlanta than he has all year--and was totally killing the very difficult whoops. Then came his heat race, where Mike Alessi took him out as they battled for the final transfer spot. Both made it in through the semi, Alessi holeshot the main and grabbed sixth. Tickle was seventh. Photo: Cudby
Broc Tickle looked faster in Atlanta than he has all year--and was totally killing the very difficult whoops. Then came his heat race, where Mike Alessi took him out as they battled for the final transfer spot. Both made it in through the semi, Alessi holeshot the main and grabbed sixth. Tickle was seventh. Photo: Cudby

James Stewart came into the race with two-straight wins and absolutely dominated practice in Atlanta, and won his heat race for good measure. The track was so challenging, but Stewart looked so smooth and confident on it. All looked well for Stew when he grabbed a good start in the main event. And then, inexplicably, he washed the front end in a corner and went down. It was early in the main, so the entire pack rode by. This is always the perplexing thing about Stewart. Yes, he pushes the limit and jumps some crazy stuff, but actually a great deal of his falls come from small mistakes like this—just tipovers and washouts that seem to come from nowhere. After the crash he came back from last to 11th and now sits __ points off from Villopoto.

Ryan Dungey was Ryan Dungey—solid, consistent, on the podium. He was just a hair off of Villopoto and Roczen though, and sat just a second or two off of them the entire main. Had either rider made a really big mistake, Dungey could have capitalized, but Villopoto’s one big error wasn’t quite big enough, and Roczen was strong.

Massive, massive improvement from Wil Hahn. Like, so much better. In practice he was blazing, in his heat race he was second behind Stewart and actually started to close the gap, and in the main he rode brilliantly for a career-best fourth. Hahn had been unable to ride at home the last few weeks due to a hand injury, but this week he was healed up and drove all the way out to Kevin Windham’s house in Mississippi. He had a good week, and plans to stay at K-Dub’s through the rest of supercross.

Another solid night from Justin Brayton, although he wasn’t quite able to bring his practice speed into the night show. When the whoops were at their biggest, Brayton was making up huge time on everyone except Stewart. As they broke down, Justin was still solid in them but not head and shoulders better like he was during the day.

Solid ride from Justin Bogle to net third in the 250s. He missed all of supercross last year with a broken wrist. Photo: Cudby
Solid ride from Justin Bogle to net third in the 250s. He missed all of supercross last year with a broken wrist. Photo: Cudby

Those big whoops did in Justin Barcia, who went for a wild ride and crashed hard in them during the final practice. He got up and rode a few more laps, but the team decided to pull him from the race with knee and leg injuries, so he did not compete. We’ll keep following the Barcia situation as it develops.

Eli Tomac also had a rough night, with a mechanical problem in the main resulting in 22nd place.

Onto the 250s. Have we mentioned MARTIN DAVALOS FINALLY WON? By the way although Davalos has been around in the class awhile (ninth season) he’s actually not even in the top 20 all-time in Lites/125SX starts and also isn’t even the latest in starts to finally get a first win. We’ve got some numbers crunched up for this occasion that we’ll bust out later this week.

Oh Adam Cianciarulo’s season almost blew up when he crashed in the whoops in his heat, but luckily he landed softly on a set of tough blocks. Then he crashed again! In the LCQ, from a bad gate pick, he shot around the outside to grab the holeshot, then did the exact same thing in the main. There was one dragon’s back section that Davalos had dialed in better, and he used that to make the pass and get away. But, even though the kid didn’t win, oddly, he seemed a little bit closer in speed to Davalos than last week, where Martin was just checking out before he crashed. And second place keeps AC in the points lead.

Things are not at all going Jeremy Martin's way.Photo: Cudby
Things are not at all going Jeremy Martin's way.Photo: Cudby

Improvements for the GEICO Honda team were not exclusive to Wil Hahn. 250F riders Justin Bogle and Blake Wharton were better than they were in Dallas. Looks like they just needed to get the first race jitters out? They charged up to third and fourth, respectively, in the main.

The privateer 1-2 punch of Vince Friese and Jimmy Decotis was on it. Friese was sixth, a solid backing to his fourth last week. Decotis was seventh.

Wither Jeremy Martin? For the second week J Mart, considered to be a title contender, failed to qualify for the main. Just made bad starts, crashes and odd stuff, but, it’s also fair to mention that the speed everyone expected the sophomore pro to have this year just hasn’t been there yet.

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