AURORA, Ill. (January 11, 2008) – Monster Energy® AMA Supercross, an FIM World Championship, races in to Phoenix’s Chase Field tomorrow night with Team San Manuel’s Chad Reed sitting number one in the AMA Supercross class and Rockstar Makita Suzuki’s Ryan Dungey leading the field of AMA Supercross Lites riders.
Monster Energy® Kawasaki riders James Stewart and Timmy Ferry both scored podium finishes at the season opening event in Anaheim. Stewart made a remarkable ride through the field after being hit from behind and laying the bike down in the first turn. After leading his heat race wire to wire and finishing second in the main, despite the setback, Stewart feels the team is ready to win.
”Heading to Phoenix I want to win,” said Stewart. “I felt we had the speed (at Anaheim), I don’t think we were lacking in the conditions or anything. It’s just when you’re lying down in the first corner it’s really tough to do it. We’ll go back but I don’t think we’ll make too many changes and we should be strong.”
At Chase Field in Phoenix, Stewart has three professional wins including last year’s AMA Supercross class race. In 2002 and 2003 Stewart took the checkered flag in the AMA Supercross Lites races. Kawasaki has racked up five AMA Lites class wins in Phoenix. Christophe Pourcel won last season, Ivan Tedesco in 2004, Stewart in 2002 and 2003 and Nathan Ramsey in 1999. Kawasaki has three AMA Supercross class wins in the Arizona desert, including Stewart’s win last season, along with Ezra Lusk in 2003 and Rick Carmichael in 2001.
For Ferry, the night was a little different last week in Anaheim. During his heat race, he overcame the slippery track conditions to put in consistent laps and finished third. In the main, his Kawasaki KX™450F was working well out near the front of the pack, and he rode through the tough track to score his fourth podium in the last six supercross races. Heading into Phoenix, Ferry believes he can keep his good runs going.
“Phoenix has been really good to me,” said Ferry, “It’s really fast and a baseball field which I really like. Hopefully we can get back on the podium and maybe even improve a couple of spots.”
In the Western Regional AMA Supercross Lites class, Austin Stroupe made an impressive supercross debut, finishing fifth in the main and running near the front all night. For Stroupe, the track conditions were difficult, and he is looking forward to racing without the threat of rain.
“I’m sick of mud,” said Stroupe. “We’re on the West Coast; I am looking forward to hard packed dirt. I’m happy we came out of Anaheim with a good finish.”
For Stroupe’s Monster Energy/Pro Circuit/Kawasaki teammate Brett Metcalfe, Phoenix brings the opportunity to get back on track. In the difficult conditions, Metcalfe was only able to muster a 19th place finish.
“I’m looking forward to Phoenix,” said Metcalfe. “I’m ready to go out there and ride better than I did in Anaheim.”
Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota/Yamaha made their team debut last weekend in Anaheim. AMA Supercross class rider Josh Hansen did make the main event but finished 20th. Hansen’s teammate, Josh Summey, failed to make the main event after being forced to race the last chance qualifier (LCQ). In the LCQ, he finished 12th and watched the main event from the stands.
The Blose brothers, Chris and Michael, and Ryan Clark will race in front of their hometown crowd this weekend in Phoenix. The trio of Arizona natives took part in an array of media opportunities throughout the week to drum up the local interest. Thursday morning they were at the stadium at 4:15 a.m. taking part in two morning television shows. “Last year we were scheduled to do morning press here, and we showed up but breaking news chased all of the media to the Air Force base. If I remember correctly, someone stole a Hummer and was driving around the runway.”
Team San Manuel showed up at press day ready to get a little extra track time and speak with the media. Reed, who picked up his 27th AMA Supercross class win last weekend, looked very comfortable and confident on the bike he worked so hard to dial in after last year’s one-win season. Nathan Ramsey, who won this race in 1999 for the Pro-Circuit Kawasaki team, looks to build off of his 11th-place finish last weekend.
This week’s track features a unique whoop/triple section that will give the riders some different options. “The main whoops section is split,” said Brian Wallenbeck, supercross manager, Live Nation Motor Sports, Inc. “This particular section is combined with a series of whoops and a triple jump. This will be an exciting addition to the racing action.”
With round two of the championship rapidly approaching, the men of the Rockstar Makita Suzuki team are ready to race this weekend at Chase Field.
Last season’s 2007 AMA Supercross/Motocross Rookie of the Year Ryan Dungey is particularly excited about this weekend’s race, having won the season-opening round of AMA Supercross Lites at Anaheim Stadium last week. The 18-year-old has been in Laguna Niguel, Calif., all week training with his mentor, former supercross great Johnny O’Mara.
“This week, we got a lot of rain in California,” said Dungey. “We still got a few days of practicing on the bike, but I did more bicycling rides. We’re flying out to Phoenix on Friday morning. This will be my first race at Chase Field but I’m going with the mindset of getting a good finish. I just want to get a good top-three finish and put myself in good positions on the track. To win would be great, but I mainly want to come out of there with points for the championship.”
Dungey’s AMA Supercross class teammates Mike Alessi and David Vuillemin are also in Southern California, turning lap after lap in preparation for this weekend. In his first AMA Supercross class season, Alessi finished in sixth place. This week he’s been working on his corner speed.
“I am working on my corner speed this week and my aggression,” said Alessi. “I look forward to racing in Phoenix. The venue is great and so are the fans. The retractable roof is a great catch net for us in case it rains. Things are in typical season mode, working hard and training. I think the family may go to a movie this week to relax a little bit.”
Vuillemin scored a 10th-place finish last weekend as he enters his first complete season on a Suzuki. Although his supercross practice track was flooded, he did manage to get some seat time in.
“No supercross riding for the beginning of the week, just some play riding in the hills of Corona where we have some secret tracks in the middle of nowhere,” said Vuillemin. “Our supercross track is flooded after all the rain of the weekend. I am going riding in the desert in the next couple of days to ride supercross tracks that are sandy.”
The proud father of two, Vuillemin made time to be with the family on his day off.
"Monday was a day off riding, but not training, and we brought the kids to Chuck E. Cheese for lunch. They had a blast. They go to school three days a week and it's difficult to do something with them during the racing season.”
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