As spectators of the sport, we’ve been pretty fortunate over the last couple of rounds. We’ve seen some of the best racing of the season—and some unfortunately gnarly crashes to boot—as of late and the St. Louis round of Monster Energy Supercross undoubtedly continued the trend. Just one week ago, most could start drawing conclusions for the fate of the 250SX East title, but the door is wide open once again and we’re witnessing a battle to the finish between two formidable competitors. As for 450SX racing, James Stewart’s title chances may be a long shot, but what we’re seeing now is what he’s capable of when the pressure is off and he’s just trying to go out and have fun. We may be three quarters of the way done with the supercross season, but we’re not getting that lets-just-start-the-outdoors feeling we tend to get as the series winds down.
Was anybody else waiting for a battle to materialize between Ryan Villopoto and Stewart during their heat race? It never happened, but how often do we see these two titans battling each other lap after lap? It doesn’t happen often at all, which is why the packed house in St. Louis came to a roar as Stewart closed in on Villopoto in the main event just before the halfway mark. Stewart did a great job pacing and passing Villopoto, but the truly remarkable period of the race came after the block pass. The two riders had no problem slicing through lapped traffic and hitting quads as they played a high-speed game of cat and mouse until the checkers.
It was tough to take our eyes off of the battle up front during the main event, but right behind them was Justin Brayton, Ken Roczen and Ryan Dungey mixing it up for fourth. After the two KTM riders swapped positions for a couple laps, Roczen prevailed over Dungey and capitalized on a mistake by Brayton in a rhythm section, in turn taking over fourth place. Dungey did the same later, and before we knew it, he was right back on Roczen in the final laps. After trying to pull the trigger on the last lap, Dungey got squirrelly over a double leading into a triple and went down. He collected Brayton in the process.
Speaking of Brayton, he came in contact with Justin Barcia in the first heat race and broke his foot. Soon after, Wil Hahn’s luck wasn’t much better as he took a wild through a rhythm section and was ultimately knocked out cold. The get-off resulted in a broken humerus as well as neck and shoulder contusions, but it’s a good thing it wasn’t worse considering how severe the crash was. After Hahn took a ride off the track with the Asterisk Mobile Medical Unit, Brayton took the holeshot and the win on the restart, broken foot and all!
The second 250SX heat was compelling as well. Martin Davalos rode his teammate, Blake Baggett, high in a corner early on to take the lead and eventual win, and the Martin brothers were right behind them having a battle of their own for third. After Alex led Jeremy for most of the race, Jeremy made a last-lap pass on Alex just three turns before the finish line. They once again found each other in the main, but not how they would’ve liked to. Alex went down after the whoop section and collected both Vince Friese and Jeremy in the crash. Jeremy had almost gotten away clean, but an ill-fated attempt at doubling out of that situation put him on the ground. The results on paper aren’t exactly indicative of how well they were riding beforehand. Matt Lemoine was in the same boat. He had third locked down until he went down in the same spot later on in the race. It was shaping up to be Lemoine’s second-straight 250SX podium appearance. The good news is that Lemoine looks to have upped his game as of recent.
Two 250SX riders that had no trouble in the main event were Martin Davalos and Justin Bogle. The two had inspiring rides as they pulled away from the rest of the field and into a battle of their own. Bogle was inched closer to Davalos toward the closing laps of the race, but he was just out of reach to try and pull the trigger on a sure-fire pass. Davalos held the lead to take his second win of the season and retain the points lead. Will we see a more consistent Martin Davalos from here on out?
There’s surely more to say about tonight’s racing, like Baggett’s beyond top-ten start to a podium finish, Cunningham tying his season-high finish of fourth, Trey Canard’s fifth at his first race back, Brayton jumping the quad out of the corner… but there’ll be more to come during the week. Let’s hope Houston carries the same charisma a week later that St. Louis did tonight.