Observations: New York or New Jersey Observations New York or New Jersey

April 30, 2014 10:25pm

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[Note: We’ve employed GEICO Honda’s Will Hahn as a guest editor this week for Once Matthes handed us Obs, we fired it off to the guest boss. Look for his additional Observations comments in italics.]

Okay folks, round sixteen of seventeen of the Monster Energy Supercross Championship hit the New York area and there were lots and lots and lots of people who were very, very, very excited about this. Supercross hadn’t been back to this area since 1991 and the Feld Motor Sports guys went out on a limb to get this race on (it costs a lot more money to host a race here than anywhere else, and of course the weather is a risk). It paid off in good attendance and an overall great vibe from the industry. Judging by how many injured riders made appearances and how seemingly every industry person (even Beeker!) made a trip to NYC, it was clear that people were excited about this race.

-I came to the big apple to not only show everyone that I'm alive but to see this massive Jersey stadium, and hey why not be a tourist? I got to check out Central Park and ride a train or seven. I spent $16,000 in taxi money to go to the Empire State Building and even a Yankees game. All in one weekend. Yes I'm spoiled.--Wilbur

The only problem we have is that we don’t know what to call it. Lots of people called it the “New York Supercross,” but the stadium is in New Jersey so there’s an issue with that. That stadium (where, yes, the NEW YORK Jets and NEW YORK Giants play) would never have been built if not for New York City, though so I felt New York Supercross was fine. Feld Motorsports was calling it “MetLife SX” in honor of the name of the stadium and even “East Rutherford SX” in a nod to the town where the stadium is. Clearly with two different names in the PR, they were confused also. I myself used NYC SX and New Jersey SX in my different shows or podcasts so I didn’t know either. Weigandt thought it should be “NJSX”, Jason Thomas said it should be “Round Sixteen SX” and my friend John Knowles said “The Jimmmmyyy DDDDDDD SX”.

Well he went and did it. Kawasaki’s Ryan Villopoto really just needed to make the main to clinch his fourth straight supercross title and he did that and more in New York, errr, New Jersey. With some sketchy track conditions (raining on and off throughout the day) Villopoto dominated his heat race and when he grabbed the holeshot in the main event this thing was over. He put in twenty terrific laps and won by ten seconds over Eli Tomac. It probably could have been much more if he hadn’t backed it down a bit by the end. Villopoto’s just so good in the ruts and soft dirt it’s ridiculous. The track wasn’t overly challenging (although the weather made it so) but it was enough to challenge a lot of riders in the class, just not Ryan Villopoto.

-- I must add watching villo holeshot then triple before the whoops and jump 17 whoops in first lap was….well, simply amazing. Nothing but respect. – Wilbur

Three wins in a row, six on the season and a stamping of the 2014 title. Villopoto joins Jeremy McGrath as the only other riders to win four-straight supercross titles. MC was Showtime and his skill was so much greater than his competition that his patented get-a-good-start-grab-lead-early-push-hard-for-ten-laps formula worked for a long, long time. Villopoto doesn’t have the same edge in technical proficiency that McGrath did, but he’s in better shape and he’s more aggressive than Jeremy ever was. In my opinion, they’re really completely different riders and won their titles in different ways. Villopoto’s more like Carmichael in that he wore people down. He’s in as good or better shape than everyone else and he’s got a killer instinct. I’ve said it before: I find Villopoto’s dominance in supercross one of the more surprising aspects of his career. When you watch him he’s got ideal outdoor skills (steers with the rear, hard on the throttle, hangs off the back) and he proved that when he hit the pros. He was unstoppable in motocross racking up three straight 250MX titles but only won one 250SX title out of three chances (although he did come into one year nursing an injury and did win eleven out of twenty-six career 250SX races). He’s also a smaller guy, but on the big bike in supercross, he’s gotten so good. And don’t forget he was in a battle of death with Ryan Dungey for first in that 2010 series when he had that horrible crash in St Louis. He is this close to being a five-time supercross champ!

For a guy who was more of an
For a guy who was more of an "outdoor guy" when he came in, RV has come a long way in supercross. Photo: Cudby

It really wasn’t that long ago that many people questioned if GEICO Honda’s Justin Bogle would ever realize his potential. One of the top amateurs in the country not that long ago, Justin was the subject of a bidding war that GEICO Honda won when he was still racing Loretta Lynn’s and all that. Once he turned pro we all got to see his smooth and effortless riding style and people were predicting big things for the kid.

But it kind of didn’t work out. He got injured more than a few times and dealt with some on-track maturity issues. Many people wonder if he would ever “make” it. The GEICO brain trust stood by Justin and re-signed him to a new deal hoping that it would click. Then Justin, who was scheduled to ride the West Coast this year, crashed badly in the pre-season—the injuries were so bad that the team hired Blake Wharton to fill in for Bogle on the East Coast. Yes, they went ahead and hired a replacement!

But with a lot of hard work we got word that Bogle was indeed going to be able to race the entire East Coast. It was a miracle! Bogle lined up alongside his replacement Wharton at the opener in Dallas (then oddly enough, Wharton got injured himself) and scored himself a nice fifth place. Then a third at the second round and soon, Bogle was in business.

Then he got his first career win, and as Bogle started moving up the points standings other riders started falling away. First it was Adam Cianciarulo getting injured and then Martin Davalos (heartbreak for Martin and his fans. Has anyone checked on our own Racer X Illustrated Managing Editor Andrew Fredrickson AKA Davalos’ #1 fan lately?). Bogle is the last man standing! No I don’t think he would have won the title without some injuries from other riders but you know what? Justin Bogle knows all about injuries and it was about time something worked out for him. What an incredible career turnaround!

-- People will always try and discount a championship no matter who won it. And as always, we feel for people getting hurt and never want to see that. The bottom line is, you have to be healthy to win. And Justin worked his butt off to get healthy. -- Wilbur

Oh yeah, Bogle won the main event in New York with a great ride. I really thought he would be a bit nervous and just make sure he got the nine points he needed to win the title but oh no, Bogle got the number one plate with style as he caught and passed his teammate and took off for the win. It was #swag for days for the #32 and it was damn impressive.

In a crazy 250SX East season, Vince Friese has got a shot at third in points. 
In a crazy 250SX East season, Vince Friese has got a shot at third in points.  Photo: Cudby

Josh Hill has come a long way from being seriously injured in a backflip crash to standing on the podium this past weekend. This was Hill a couple weeks ago right here on Racer X:

Josh Hill: “It’s not me, man. I’m getting the best jumps out of anyone and we’re having some issues,” and, “There’s some stuff going on. I’m not happy. I feel like I could run up front, but I couldn’t buy a start if … There’s no way I could buy a start right now.”

Well, Hill said he couldn’t buy a start but someone must have given him one at the corner store because from the outside gate Hill came within a foot or two of grabbing the holeshot. Weird right? Whatever the real reason is, Hill got the start he needed and rode a great race to get his first 450SX podium in, well, forever. It’s got to be a bit of a bittersweet podium for Hill as he found out a couple of weeks ago that the team was not taking him to the Lucas Oil Pro Motocross Championship. It’s pretty clear from his interviews that he has no hard feelings toward owner Carey Hart over this decision but he has yet to thank the team’s other owner, Ricky Carmichael, in any interview that I’ve seen. Does that mean Hill blames RC? I’m not privy to these decisions so I can’t say for sure but it does seem that way.

Anyway, great ride by Hill and no matter what team he’s looking for next, this result will help him out. He’s got great skill on a dirt bike, there’s no debate about that, but he’s maybe lost a little of that drive that saw him get out of a hospital bed. He’s got to find that somewhere because that drive matched with his talent and Hill could really have something cooking in 2015.

Let’s take a look at the results shall we?

250SX Results

1 32 Justin Bogle Cushing, OK Honda CRF 250- When do we all just stop pretending that Bogle is not part of a rap group that has an album out on iTunes and is crushing it right now?

2 19 Jeremy Martin Millville, MN Yamaha YZ250F- Jeremy was the fastest guy in practice and because I thought Bogle would just make sure he got his points, Martin seemed like a good pick to win his first race. After all, there are only three “factory” guys in this class and only one (Bogle) who had won a race before. And Martin looked to be charging hard and catching Bogle before Justin was able to pull away. Still, season-best finish for Jeremy. 

3 42 Vince Friese Cape Girardeau, MO Honda CRF 250- How does this look?

2014 250SX Eastern Supercross Series

1-Justin Bogle
2-Martin Davalos

3-Vince Friese 

Great job right? I went through the archives and the last time a rider on a privateer team finished inside the top three in a 250SX series was 2000 with Greg Schnell of the MotoWorld Yamaha team. That’s right, for thirteen years riders that were considered “factory” took the top three spots on each coast until Vince did this. Provided of course he gets the one point he needs to pass Baggett and Cianciarulo.

-- Straight up I'll give credit where it's due. Vince and I had our incident at Anaheim 1 this year, Vince even got DQed over it, but he rode great all day. I can’t take that away from him. I’m the kind of guy where if you ride good I’ll give you credit, and I told him that. -- Wilbur

4 96 Matthew Bisceglia Weatherford, TX Honda CRF 250- Great race for Matt. He was oh so close to making the podium until he stalled it. But hey, he led some laps, looked great and it’s got to give him some confidence. It’s been feast of famine for The Bisch this season: a couple of fourths, a couple of sevenths and not much else. 

5 78 Matthew Lemoine Pilot Point, TX Kawasaki KX 250F- Lemoine can win the main event this weekend. Seriously.

6 30 Kyle Cunningham Aledo, TX Honda CRF 250- Cunningham hauls ass on the hard-packed surface that we’ll see in Las Vegas this weekend. Cunningham could win this weekend. Seriously.

7 55 Alex Martin Millville, MN Yamaha YZ250F- Poor Troll. He was looking great and was very close to a podium when washed out his front end. And now his ’92 Geo Metro won’t get a new air freshener or anything because he couldn’t make it on the podium.

8 62 Mitchell Oldenburg Alvord, TX Honda CRF 250- Congrats to Oldenburg who came from fourteenth to get this position. It was also a season-best finish. Yes it says Texas as to where he’s from but he’s actually from Minnesota so hence the good riding in the slop.

9 56 James Decotis Peabody, MA Honda CRF 250- Jimmy D had a lot of fans in the house and when he won his heat and was leading the main I thought that Eli Manning was out there. Impressive crowd for sure. But then Bisceglia made a hard pass on Decotis and Jimmy went down. Too bad, I think he had a top three in him had that not happened.

10 60 Jackson Richardson Australia Honda CRF 250- Is Jackson Richardson part of a new Aussie invasion? Discuss amongst yourselves.  

11 533 Gannon Audette Tallahassee, FL Kawasaki KX 250F- Audette, the former Star Yamaha rider, has had his two best races the last two east coast mains. I like Gannon, he’s a nice dude and I hope he keeps it up.

12 99 Justin Starling Deland, FL Honda CRF 250

13 57 A J Catanzaro Portland, CT Honda CRF 250- Props to “The Cat” as he had a bad crash in his heat race (bad enough they had to red flag the race) then regrouped enough to make it to the LCQ. Once there he got into the main event and bingo, bango, he got this thirteenth. Pretty good right? Quietly The Cat has had a pretty good season after a rough start.  

14 91 Jacob Baumert Louisville, KY Kawasaki KX 250F

15 69 Levi Kilbarger Logan, OH Honda CRF 250

16 812 Luke Vonlinger Stanford, KY Honda CRF 250

17 874 Zack Williams Elko, MN Honda CRF 250

18 761 Cade Clason Arcadia, OH Honda CRF 250- That’s a sweet name- Clade Clason- almost sounds like some sort of ‘80s action hero name. “Clade Clason: an ex-cop fighting to get his badge back!” or something like that.  

19 395 Taylor Potter Warranwood, Australia Honda CRF 250- Is Potter part of the new Aussie invasion along with Richardson? Continue to discuss amongst yourselves.  

20 581 Kyle Evoy (Can’t find a…) Bitterman Pelzer, SC Honda CRF 250- I don’t get it. Kyle used to just be “Bitterman” but now I have a lot of questions about his new “Evoy” middle name. It just started showing up in the results. Like, what’s an Evoy? Why now does he have “Evoy” as a middle name? Is it even a middle name? Maybe he got married and adopted a new surname (but then it would be “Evoy-Bitterman,” right?), I’m not really sure what’s going on here. These are the things I think about at night. 

21 854 Landen Powell South Jordan, UT KTM 250 SX-F- It seems that Powell’s bike was the only person/thing NOT happy to be in New York City as it didn’t allow Landon to finish the race.

22 386 Aaron Gulley Jonesburg, MO Kawasaki KX 250F- I had high hopes for the other Gulley after his great qualifying time but then this Gulley went out and surpassed my Gulley by making the main. Oh those Gulleys!

Hill and Hart still seem to be tight.
Hill and Hart still seem to be tight. Photo: Cudby

450SX Results

1 1 Ryan Villopoto Seattle, WA Kawasaki KX 450F-I’ve been on Ryan all year long because I think he picks gates that are too far to the inside most of the time. As I wrote last week, he has begun to start further outside, including both his heat and main event picks here. And he got the starts! He denies this has anything to do with my advice and in fact calls me an idiot but I’m not buying it.

2 3 Eli Tomac Cortez, CO Honda CRF 450- Tomac’s best races of the year have been on the soft tracks and that’s not a coincidence people. He’s feeling at home on those types of tracks and I predict big things for the #3 this summer.  

3 75 Joshua Hill Yoncalla, OR Suzuki RM-Z450- I loved Hill going with the JMB-style towel tucked into the pants. Always took me back to the #22 at High Point in ’90 and then me copying him at local races only to have the towel inevitably fall out.  

4 51 Justin Barcia Pinetta, FL Honda CRF 450- Barcia was good man…real good. Second fastest lap time of the night and charging hard. He was making a few mistakes out there from pushing hard so his lap times went up and down but in the end he broke away from Roczen and Dungey (a VERY entertaining battle) and closed on Hill late in the race. He was bummed after about losing the new Toyota truck to RV (joking that he would maybe go “key it” afterward) but he was good in NY.  

5 94 Ken Roczen Germany KTM 450 SX-F- Kenny Roczen has reached a point in this supercross season where he’s a top five guy. That’s good. But remember early on when he was winning and always on the podium?  Two wins and five podiums in the first eight races and no wins and two podiums in the last seven indicate that the grind has caught up to him.  

6 5 Ryan Dungey Belle Plaine, MN KTM 450 SX-F- Dungey started tenth, was fourth by the eighth lap and truly, I figured it was just a matter of time before he got Hill or maybe even Tomac. After all, it’s the Dunge we’re talking about here. He’s just the diesel engine of riders right? A funny thing happened though as he was caught and passed by Roczen and Barcia and then started making some very uncharacteristic mistakes. Eventually he fell over. His race would be normal for most racers, not everyone is great every week, but for Dungey it was strange.

7 800 Mike Alessi Hilliard, FL Suzuki RM-Z450- Mike got a nice start and worked his way backward to right about where he belongs. He’s a seventh to twelfth-place guy in this field and although that may shock or anger some of you, that’s where his indoor skills are. His outdoor skills are another matter but we’re not really going to see them because he’s going to Canada to flaunt them. Which is still weird by the way.  

8 29 Andrew Short Smithville, TX KTM 450 SX-F-Shorty used the long straight and his third gear starting technique to put himself up front but it wasn’t his night out there. Eighth is still nothing to be ashamed of but I’m sure he was a bit bummed.

9 41 Trey Canard Edmond, OK Honda CRF 450- Canard went down on the first lap and was basically last. I have been predicting for weeks that Trey is going to make the podium in a race and now we’re down to the last one. Please Trey, do it for me.

10 40 Weston Peick Wildomar, CA Suzuki RM-Z450-Let’s allow Weston to summarize his race via one of his rare Tweets - ‏@westonpeick “10th place in Jersey not what I wanted starts sucked”. Okay then…

11 12 Jacob Weimer Rupert, ID Kawasaki KX 450F-Welcome back Weimer! Jake has been out for, like, forever (since crashing in practice in San Diego) and immediately went down on the first lap when he tangled with Canard.  So just like that it was a last-to-twelfth ride for Weimer and it was a nice ride but no one will really know how good it was y’know? It’s weird, Brayton, Hahn, Wilson and all these other dudes have all these rumors about them and where they’re going and nothing against those guys-they’re great riders- but I don’t hear a peep about Jake. And he’s won heat races and gotten on the podium in stacked 450SX classes! Weird deal…

12 38 Phillip Nicoletti Bethel, NY Yamaha YZ450F- Filthy got his best finish of the year in front of his people. I know Barcia is from New York and all that but all you have to do is talk to Nicoletti for five minutes and realize that he IS New York. I mean, c’mon, his sister works for the New York Yankees. It doesn’t get more New York than that.

13 27 Nicholas Wey Murrieta, CA Kawasaki KX 450F- Wey suffered a knee injury in the heat race that caused him to be carried off by the Asterisk Medical guys. Then it got better, he re-joined the race and qualified out of the LCQ to the main. And in the process he passed Chad Reed for most career main event starts by an active rider. But the bad news is his knee isn’t good and he may not race this weekend.  

14 606 Ronnie Stewart Easton, PA Suzuki RM-Z450- Besides wondering why Ronnie only seems to wear two TLD colorways the entire season, now I have to wonder why all of his fans in NYC had yellow shirts on with “#606 The Candy Man” written on them. Why is his nickname “The Candy Man?” What’s the deal here? It was pretty cool to see the #606 bed sheet hanging from the rail there in MetLife.

Matthes has noticed that Ronnie Stewart only has two sets of gear. Help this guy. 
Matthes has noticed that Ronnie Stewart only has two sets of gear. Help this guy.  Photo: Cudby

15 68 Chris Blose Phoenix, AZ Honda CRF 450

16 33 Joshua Grant Corona, CA Yamaha YZ450F- At some point—I didn’t see it—Grant flew off a berm and was way back. Like a lap down way back so from there it was an uphill battle to get this finish. I know we’re not seeing the usual flash from JG out there but I think he just really doesn’t want to get hurt anymore and who can blame him? He’s a better outdoor guy so I think we’ll see some good stuff from him come Glen Helen.

17 48 Ben LaMay Forney, TX Yamaha YZ450F- LaMay hurt his wrist a bit so he played it safe. He had a nice ride going in the semi race as he led some laps.  

18 285 Tony Archer Waldorf, MD Kawasaki KX 450F- I gotta be honest, I thought “Hawkeye” was going to get eaten up in the LCQ by some of the big names behind him but he rode great to make what I think is his first ever 450SX main event.  

19 77 Jimmy Albertson Shawnee, OK Honda CRF 450- Props to Top Jimmy for crashing in practice and dislocating his shoulder. He got it popped back in and toughed it out to this finish. In talking to him after the race he indicated that this did indeed hurt like hell but he did what he had to do.  

20 374 Cody Gilmore Blair, NE Kawasaki KX 450F- Gilmore’s had a great season but not sure what happened to him this weekend.

21 211 Tevin Tapia Menifee, CA Suzuki RM-Z450

22 7 James Stewart Haines City, FL Suzuki RM-Z450- Oh man, I thought the #7 was done for the year with a knee injury. Stewart’s one tough SOB so to see him ride off clutching his knee was not good. People that were close to him down on the floor said it didn’t look good, but the good news is he’s already said he’s good to go to Vegas, which conceivably means he’s good to go for the 450MX series. Whew! Stewie was leading the Toyota Truck challenge by a point going into this race so with his injury that means he lost the truck. But I’m sure he could look in his couch cushions and pull out enough for a new Tundra so it’s not all bad.

 Some other news and notes:

- I think MetLife Stadium had perhaps the worst mechanic’s area in the history of mechanic’s areas. The riders were making a hard right after the finish and if they cranked their heads ninety degrees to the left they may, MAY, have be able to see their pit boards. It’s like, why bother? DON’T THEY REALIZE HOW KEY MECHANICS ARE TO THE RIDER’S RACE???? No? Oh, okay.

-- Agreed.  Glad you touched on that. Absolutely horrible. -- Wilbur

-The MotoConcepts team didn’t bring the semi out to NYC so team riders Kyle Cunningham and Mike Alessi pitted out of the Teddy Parks Experience/Privateer Journey for this race. Not having the comforts of their truck was probably a bit stressful for them. Also the Rockstar KTM guys and Pro Circuit guys had their trucks there but no riders as they were all hurt. Still it didn’t seem to matter as the pits were packed with fans for most of the day.

-Supercross is a show right? Yes, it is, you should be saying. Well then make it a show and award Justin Bogle the number one plate for the Eastern Regional 250SX title! Bogle just needed nine points to pass the severely-injured Martin Davalos for first in the points and he easily did that. THERE IS NO WAY DAVALOS SHOWS UP THIS WEEKEND TO RACE AS HE HAS MULTIPLE BROKEN BONES. So knowing that, give Bogle the title! Make it exciting! Build it up baby!

-On Friday myself and Jason Thomas went into the city and seemingly walked 847 blocks from Penn Station to the eastern side of Central Park to, well, check stuff out. New York City is always pretty nuts and my wife and I have vacationed there a few times over the years. Anyway, while we were down there Chad Reed showed up to meet us and take a gander at the park. From there Reed wanted to go to Ground Zero and we headed down there via a car service (Reed paid-thanks Chad!). After that sobering reminder of how precious life is, we headed to the Bronx to watch the New York Yankees play. It was there that I was astounded to know that Chad did NOT know who Derek Jeter was. Had never heard of him! I know he’s an Aussie but he’s been here a long time now and I still can’t get over this fact four days later. Anyway, I then challenged my friend Dan Truman to a fastball-throwing contest that went horribly for myself and we went back downtown to hang out. It was a very busy Friday for me!

Thanks for reading, email me at if you want to chat about this column, NYC, or really anything else.

-- Thanks for letting me give my two cents on this. Now Steve's column will suck a little less with me dropping my knowledge in a few random areas. -- Wilbur