Main event highlights day of thrills

Photo by Frank Hoppen

*The 2014 Monster Energy AMA Supercross Series comes to Atlanta Feb. 22

The race for the 2014 Monster Energy AMA Supercross Series Championship comes through Atlanta with a competitive field of former champions that will be racing on the biggest stage the sport has seen. For the first time in history, the entire season is being televised live on FOX Sports and the Supercross tour around the country will continue to be tracked live with an estimated 291 hours of programming this season. The first half of the season has been highly-competitive as Ryan Villopoto, the defending Monster Energy AMA Supercross Series Champion continues to pace the field as the man to beat in 450SX Class.


The 25-year old became the first repeat champion in the sport since Ricky Carmichael did it in 2006 and has been the star of Super- cross over the past couple years. Villopoto’s blistering pace could eventually catch him up with racing great Jeremy McGrath for the top position on the all-time win list in Monster Energy Supercross at four career championships. In Villopoto’s first 75 450SX Class starts, he won 45 percent of his races and if Villopoto can claim a fourth championship, he will be joining elite company.

James Stewart is a past champion who found success in Atlanta last year. Like most other riders, however, Stewart has struggled to gain prominence in the sport with Villopoto’s emergence and a deep field of riders. Stewart, the 2008 FIM World Champion, led all 20 laps in Atlanta last year and edged out Villopoto for first place by 1.468 seconds. Stewart sits in fifth place (80 points) in total points this season after the first five races and has bounced back from a disappointing four-point start in Anaheim. Stewart will be slated as a contender in Atlanta with this year’s pool of 450SX riders. Villopoto has plenty of competition this season beyond Stewart in 450SX Class and 31-year-old Chad Reed posted back-to-back victories in Anaheim 2 and Anaheim 3 to put pressure on Villopoto this season. Villopoto and Reed eachwon two of the first five races this season. Reed grabbed the lead from Villopoto on the first lap of the Anaheim 3 main event and held his lead against a trailing Ken Roczen to score his second win of the Monster Energy Supercross season. Villopoto still maintained his lead in the standings afterwards, but not by a comfortable margin. Reed’s 102 total points sat right behind Villopoto’s 104 total points through the first five races of the 17-race season.


In the 250SX West Class, Dean Wilson grabbed his first victory of the 2014 Monster Energy Supercross season at Anaheim. The win moved Wilson to third in the overall standings. Jason Anderson and Cole Seely are locked in first place with 109 total points apiece. Last season in Atlanta, rider William Hahn domi- nated the 250SX main event and led all 15 laps in route to the win.

During race day, the riders will hit the track for a walk-through before several rounds of qualifying practice runs. The opening cer- emonies begin at 7 p.m. and 20 riders will race in each of the first two 250SX heats. The top nine finishers of each heat make it to the main event and will be joined by the top four finish- ers of the last chance qualifier to make up a final field of 22 riders in 250SX.

The 450SX riders have a slightly different schedule. The action starts with a pair of heats (20 riders each) and the top four finishers from their respective heats earn automatic spots in the main event. Finishers five through 20 from the opening two heats will split up (based on odd or even finish), forming two fields of 16 rid- ers for two semifinal races that will send the top five finishers from each race into the main event. There will be a last chance qualifier with 22 riders that will send the last four qualifiers for the main event with a short four lap race. The 450SX main event starts at 10 p.m. and boasts

a field of 22 riders that will race for 20 laps.

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