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Lucas Oil AMA Pro Motocross Championship Notes: Peterson CAT Washougal National

MORGANTOWN, W.Va. (July 22, 2011) – Following the most dramatic round of the season in Millville, Minn., the 2011 Lucas Oil AMA Pro Motocross Championship heads to the Pacific Northwest this weekend for the Peterson CAT Washougal National in Washougal, Wash. Following a shakeup in the standings, just seven points separate the top three riders in the 450 Class championship. In the 250 Class, a trio of riders from the Monster Energy/Pro Circuit/Kawasaki team are engaged in a tight battle for the championship lead.

450 Class

TwoTwo Motorsports/Bel-Ray Racing
The national media is abuzz following Chad Reed’s incredible crash last weekend at Spring Creek. Despite a frightening free fall, Reed was able to re-enter the race and salvage an impressive fifth-place finish thanks to 1-14 moto scores. The resilient effort helped maintain his lead in the standings, and while his consecutive podium streak came to a close, Reed is happy to still be on top and still be healthy coming into this weekend.

“I’m still feeling the after-affects of the crash at Millville, but day-by-day, I’m feeling better,” said Reed. “We have two weekends off after Washougal, which is nice to know, as it’s easier to tell my body it just has to step it up for one more 10-hour day before getting a rest. After Saturday, I will worry about the hurting. I don’t have one particular thing that is injured – I’m sore all over. I hit my head pretty decent in the crash, so I’m laying low this week from on-the-bike training.”

Monster Energy Kawasaki
After a third-place effort in the opening moto, Ryan Villopoto took advantage of Reed’s misfortune and moved into the lead early in Moto 2. He quickly opened up a large gap over the field and looked to be on the way to his second win of the season. However, Villopoto ultimately settled for a runner-up effort and now remains the only rider in the series to finish on the overall podium at each round. Additionally, he sits just six points out of the championship lead coming into his hometown race. While the Northwest native is a favorite to win every time he visits Washougal, he has yet to stand on top of the box and will look to change that on Saturday.

“It’s been a while since I’ve raced up here, but I’m really looking forward to being in front of the home crowd,” said Villopoto. “This track has always been tricky, and I’m sure it’s changed a bit since I’ve last raced here. We’ll see how it goes and hopefully I can get a win for the hometown fans.”

Jake Weimer had a solid outing in Millville, running in the top 10 throughout each of the day’s motos. In the end, he posted 8-6 moto scores to land seventh overall. He currently occupies ninth in the championship standings, and will look to maintain his forward progress this weekend.

“I feel like I have been improving little by little,” said Weimer. “I think I’m still getting used to the big bike and the tough competition I face every weekend. The bike has been great. I definitely feel like I have the strongest bike out there, and now I just need to prove to myself that I can get the results I know I’m capable of achieving.”

Rockstar/Makita Suzuki
Ryan Dungey entered Spring Creek with three consecutive wins at his hometown track. Last Saturday, he made it four-in-a-row, with his most impressive ride of the season. After finishing second to Reed in Moto 1, Dungey found a way to overcome a near seven-second deficit to Villopoto in the final moto, and capture his second overall win of the season. Now, he sits just seven points out of the championship lead in third, and heads to Washougal, where he’s also won the past three years.

“Obviously, winning at Millville and having the hometown crowd is great; it’s always a treat to go back there because I love the track and the fans are great,” said Dungey. “I grew up with a lot of people who came out, so that was an extra bonus. I’m glad to get another win for the Rockstar/Makita Suzuki team – it was a good step in the right direction for the championship. I’m really looking forward to Washougal. It is a really cool place, and it’s where I got my first outdoor win in the 250 Class, which is something special to always look back on. It’s more of a throttle control track. I always have a blast there. We’re going to show up there ready, and I’m going to do the best I can.”

Brett Metcalfe just missed out on a top-five effort at Spring Creek, but he still posted a strong sixth-place finish following 6-5 moto scores. In fact, Metcalfe finished just one point behind fellow Australian, Reed, in the overall classification. With a current hold on fourth in the 450 Class standings, Metcalfe will look to duplicate his third-place effort from Washougal last year, and grab his first podium of the season.

“Millville was tough for me, but I felt like my riding was good,” said Metcalfe. The Rockstar/Makita Suzuki RM-Z450 was working awesome for me, and everybody on the Suzuki team has been putting in a big effort. I really want to get up there, and get into the top three for these guys. Washougal was a turning point for me last year, so I’m looking forward to a good week of practice and going back. I think the Suzuki is going to work great there, especially with Horsepower Hill, as the RM-Z450 has a great engine, with a lot of power. I’m just going to get good starts, put the hammer down, and go for it.”

American Honda
Kevin Windham made it official this week that his 2011 motocross season has come to a conclusion. Following seven rounds of action that was highlighted by a season-best effort of fourth on multiple occasions, Windham is stepping away for the remainder of the summer to prepare for the 2012 season. He will be sorely missed over the final five races of the season, but his time at the track this summer was something the entire industry will remember.

“I would like to thank both American Honda Racing and GEICO Honda for allowing me the opportunity to fill in for (Trey) Canard and (Josh) Grant while they were on the mend,” said Windham. “I would also like to thank all the fans at the races for cheering so loudly with every lap I raced. It was always factory Honda’s plan to have me around until their riders came back. I got so overwhelmed by the warm reception I was receiving at all the nationals, that I thought I could race them all. The racer inside of me wants to be behind every starting gate that drops. However, throughout the season, it has become obvious to me why I stepped away from racing motocross a few years back. I feel that I’m struggling through the grueling season, and it’s bringing me down mentally. Riding at less than 100 percent is a great way to bring on an injury. It is a must to always have your head in the game. I’ve had a blast at motocross, and now I can start recharging my batteries for the 2012 season. I still want to focus on making 20 years as a professional racer by making it to the 2014 season.”

Trey Canard’s first motocross race of the 2011 season also marked his 450 Class debut. The defending 250 Class Champion rode exceptionally well at Millville, considering he hasn’t competed in motocross since 2010, finishing third on the overall podium following 5-3 moto scores. Canard took the win in the 250 Class at Washougal last season, and will continue to dial in his race pace this weekend.

“I’m really happy about finishing third overall at Millville,” said Canard. “It’s tough sitting on the couch, watching the top guys get faster each week, and knowing that when I go to join them, they will be in full-swing, while I’m still in start-of-the-season mode. From here, I just have to ride myself into race shape and play catch up. My goal is to make the podium each weekend, though I know that’s a big task given the speed those guys have right now.”

Muscle Milk/Toyota/JGR
After suffering an apparent knee injury at RedBud, Davi Millsaps was forced to miss the action at Spring Creek. Despite that, he fell just one spot in the standings to sixth. His status for this weekend remains unclear, but after such a strong start to the season, the industry is eager to see him return.

As the lone rider for Joe Gibbs Racing at Millville, Justin Brayton did his best to carry the team flag high. After fighting his way from the back of the field in the opening moto to finish 12th, Brayton backed up the effort with a seventh-place finish, landing him ninth overall.

Red Bull KTM
Andrew Short continues to build momentum from one week to the next. Another strong top-10 effort at Spring Creek came on the heels of 7-9 moto scores that placed Short eighth overall. Now, he sits seventh in the standings, looking to move into the top five. Short had a great race a Washougal last season, finishing second behind Dungey.

Mike Alessi posted an impressive fourth-place finish at Spring Creek. Following a pair of fourth-place moto scores, Alessi actually tied Canard in points on the day. However, by virtue of Canard’s better second-moto finish, Alessi just missed out on his first overall podium of the season.

Lucas Oil/Troy Lee Designs Honda
Christian Craig had a tough day in Millville, failing to finish either of the day’s motos. Despite that, he still holds down 10th place in the 450 Class standings.

250 Class

Monster Energy/Pro Circuit/Kawasaki
The perfect season for Monster Energy/Pro Circuit/Kawasaki continues after another pair of dominant motos by the team at Spring Creek. With his fifth runner-up effort of the season, Dean Wilson is still in search of his first overall victory of the summer, but maintains control of the championship lead.

“I was thinking I would have won by the halfway point in the series, but I’ll take the red plate,” said Wilson. “I know I’ve been working hard and my teammates make for stiff competition. It would be great to win, but I am happy how the season has gone so far.”

Tyla Rattray was impressive at Millville, nearly sweeping the day’s motos en route to his third win of the summer. While he missed out on the perfect 1-1 moto scores, Rattray still posted 2-1 results to overtake Wilson in the overall classification, and reclaim second in the 250 Class standings. He finished third at Washougal in 2010, and will look for his fourth win of the year on Saturday.

“Washougal is a tough track because it’s usually very slick,” said Rattray. “Getting a good start will help me not have to ride over my head on a track that can bite you for pushing too hard. It’s easy to forget how tough this track really is, but hopefully I’ll get it down in practice and feel good going into the motos.”

After a pair of dominant victories, Blake Baggett was hoping to maintain the momentum at Spring Creek. However, his pair of teammates edged him out in each moto, forcing Baggett to settle for a pair of third-place finishes and the final spot on the overall podium.

“I remember liking this track when I was younger, but I haven’t been there in a while so we’ll see how it goes,” said Baggett. “I wasn’t too happy with my performance in Millville, so I’ll be looking to get some better starts. That really hurt me having to make my way through the pack in such tough conditions.”

DNA Shred Stix/Star Racing Yamaha
Kyle Cunningham’s pair of fourth-place moto scores at Spring Creek not only landed him fourth overall, but also vaulted him to fourth in the 250 Class standings. The veteran rider has boasted several strong rides this season, and he’ll look to add to it on Saturday in Washougal.

Gareth Swanepoel posted a top-10 overall finish at Millville. The South African relied on 5-12 moto scores to finish eighth overall. He also sits eighth in the 250 Class standings.

GEICO Honda
After a tough day of competition at RedBud, GEICO Honda looked to bounce back at Spring Creek. However, the team’s top two riders, Justin Barcia and Eli Tomac, both had up-and-down days at Millville.

Both Barcia and Tomac failed to finish the opening moto, but each rider bounced back with top-10 efforts in the final moto. Barcia finished sixth, landing 12th overall, while Tomac followed just behind him in seventh, garnering 13th overall. Each rider will be eager to get back on track at Washougal.

For the second straight week, Wil Hahn was the lead rider on the team, finishing seventh overall after posting 9-8 moto scores in just his second race of the 2011 season.

Rockstar Energy Suzuki
Martin Davalos just missed out on a top-10 finish at Spring Creek. Following 10-15 moto scores, Davalos finished just behind his teammate Jason Anderson for 11th overall. Despite that, Davalos moved into ninth in the 250 Class standings.

Television coverage for Saturday’s Peterson CAT Washougal National begins with a live broadcast of the opening motos for both the 450 and 250 classes on FUEL TV, beginning at 4 p.m. EST. SPEED will continue the live programming from the Pacific Northwest, showcasing the final motos of each class, back-to-back, beginning at 7 p.m. EST.