10 Things to Watch: DallasFriday, February 17, 2012 | 12:00 PM
By Aaron Hansel and Chase Stallo
Austin Stroupe isn’t quite having the year he was hoping for. After sitting out several rounds due to a concussion suffered in Phoenix, Stroupe returned to racing in San Diego. Stroupe nearly qualified for the main out of his heat, but earned himself a trip to the LCQ (which he sat out) when he stalled in the whoops. Stroupe started training with Ryan Hughes this week; is it the change he needs to make his first main event of the year?
Although we’re already six rounds into the 2012 Monster Energy AMA Supercross season, the Eastern Regional Supercross Lites riders have yet to compete. This weekend we’ll finally get to see riders like Ken Roczen, Justin Barcia, Jimmy Decotis, Kyle Cunningham, Blake Baggett, Darryn Durham, Blake Wharton, and a host of others do battle. If you aren’t excited, check your pulse.
James Stewart got the monkey off his back with a victory in Oakland, but has since been unable to produce a follow up win. At A2, he had a nasty heat race crash that left him battered and bruised for the main, and in San Diego, he finished fifteenth after a big crash in the whoops. Stewart now trails series leader Ryan Villopoto by 32 points, and needs to start producing wins if he wants to keep his championship hopes alive.
Roczen makes his East Region Lites debut in Dallas.
After four twelfth place finishes in a row, Kyle Chisholm finally made his way into the top ten with an eighth place in San Diego. Before his injury last year, Chisholm’s speed was progressing so fast that a podium finish didn’t seem too far off. Was his breakthrough in San Diego the first step in a journey to the top five?
On the Rebound
One week after suffering a mechanical DNF, Josh Hansen charged his way to his best finish of the year in San Diego with a fifth place. With Josh Hill and Ivan Tedesco injured, Hansen is the Dodge Motorsports/Hart and Huntington team’s only realistic shot at securing a podium finish. Will Hansen keep the train rolling and build on his top five finish tomorrow night in Dallas?
It’s premiere week for the East Region and with that a new group of young talent is being ushered into the blood thirsty pro ranks. GEICO Honda’s Justin Bogle headlines the new class, but lurking in the shadows is some top former amateur talent. Privateers Justin Starling, Cole Thompson, James Justice, Zach Freeberg and Austin Politelli will all be making the jump to the pro class. Rockstar Star/Valli Yamaha’s Kyle Peters was scheduled to make his debut in the Big D as well, but injured his shoulder earlier this week and will miss the next few rounds.
Can Windham hang onto fifth in points in Dallas?
Photo: Simon Cudby
From West to East
Add two more names to the talent laden Supercross field, as West Region Lites riders Nico Izzi and Billy Laninovich will make the jump to the 450 for the East Region. Izzi and Laninovich have resurrected once thought to be stalling careers in 2012 and look to continue the trend on the right coast. Can Izzi and Laninovich pull of the improbable and grab some top tens in their Supercross class debuts?
Best of the Rest
Sure the points battle for the championship is as intense as ever. Sure Ryan Villopoto, Chad Reed, Ryan Dungey and James Stewart are out for blood in Dallas. But beyond the headlines, an intense battle for fifth in points is beginning to take shape. A mere 14 points separate 5th-10th with Kevin Windham leading the charge. But Metcalfe, Weimer, Millsaps, Brayton, Hansen are lying in wait ready to pounce. And let’s us not forget about Mike Alessi and Andrew Short who are very much still in the mix. Will Windham be able to extend his lead in The House that Jerry built, or will Metcalfe and crew rise above?
Can Dungey find an extra gear in Dallas and capture his second win of the season?
Photo: Simon Cudby
Back in the Saddle
Although he has never been known for his supercross prowess, MotoConcepts Mike Alessi has shown quite a bit of fortitude during the early stages of the season. The off-season switch back to Suzuki has given Mike more confidence in 2012, and it’s showing. Alessi has only finished outside the top ten twice through six rounds, a far cry from last year’s disastrous supercross season, where he missed some main events. Can Alessi keep the momentum going as the series heads east?
No More Mr. Nice Guy
The battle for the Supercross title is in full swing. Ryan Villopoto and Chad Reed went toe to toe in a knock down drag out battle for the W in San Diego. Ryan Dungey, as always, has been super consistent but has been off the pace the last couple rounds. While James Stewart finds himself 32 points back of Villopoto and in desperate need of a win.
The top four contenders have played nice thus far, but with each passing round becoming that much more important, how long will the trend continue? To quote Chad Reed, “Rubbin’ is racing, and really nothing is off limits…” Which begs the question; how long will the top four continue to play the “Mr. Nice Guy” role?
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