AURORA, Ill.(April 25, 2014) – Monster Energy AMA Supercross, an FIM World Championship, makes its first visit to the New York area since the 1991 season on Saturday night with potential for history to be made. Monster Energy Kawasaki’s Ryan Villopoto is on the cusp of winning his fourth consecutive 450SX Class crown and if he finishes 18th or better at the championship’s inaugural race inside MetLife Stadium, in East Rutherford, N.J., which would make him just the second rider in the 40-year history of Monster Energy Supercross to accomplish such a feat.
At the previous stop of the championship in Seattle on April 12, Villopoto won for just the second time in his hometown with a dominant wire-to-wire effort. Villopoto’s 2014 win total now sits at five, putting him into a tie with James Stewart as the winningest riders in the division. As a result of back-to-back victories over the past two races, Villopoto has the opportunity to lock up the championship at the same venue his hometown Seattle Seahawks won the Super Bowl at in February.
“It’s great to be in a position to wrap up the title this weekend, but we’re going into New York business as usual,” said Villopoto. “We’re going out there to win, but we do have the luxury of knowing that if things don’t necessarily work out then we can grab a solid result and still walk away with the championship. It’s going to be a lot of fun to race at a new venue and I’m sure the atmosphere with the fans is going to be unlike anything we’ve seen before.”
Villopoto’s Monster Energy Kawasaki teammate Jake Weimer will make his anticipated return to action following an injury. Weimer has been sidelined since the San Diego stop in February, but is ready to get back onto the track and do battle with his fellow competitors.
“I’ve been waiting for this weekend for a while now, so I’m glad it’s finally here,” said Weimer. “I feel good on the bike and I just went to get back out there and mix it up at the front. I feel better than I did to start the season am looking forward to getting back behind the gate.”
Stewart is one of just two other riders that still have a shot at winning the 2014 Monster Energy Supercross title. Stewart has been one of the strongest riders in the 450SX Class in recent weeks and will look to secure his sixth victory of the season for Yoshimura Suzuki. In Seattle, Stewart put on a hard charge to try and catch Villopoto, but settled for second to secure his fourth podium finish in the last five races. A win in East Rutherford will be of the utmost importance for Stewart.
“[Seattle] was a bit of a struggle,” said Stewart. “I never could really get comfortable with changes we made to the bike. I was trying to make up time in the race, but it was really easy to override the track because of the ruts. I’m not quite 100 percent yet, but I felt like I rode well so it was kind of a bummer. But we’ve still got two races left and having a week off helped me get totally healthy. I have to thank the Yoshimura Suzuki team for their hard work and for standing by me. We’re second in the overall championship points and I’m just looking forward to going into the last two races of the season strong.”
The third and final rider that maintains a shot at the title is Red Bull KTM’s Ryan Dungey. Like Stewart, winning is a must for Dungey. The former champion has one win this season to go along with nine podium results, but he has not finished ahead of both Villopoto and Stewart since his triumphant outing in Indianapolis seven races ago. In Seattle Dungey’s impressive consistency continued with a third-place finish, but he knows he’ll need to step things up in East Rutherford.
Fellow Red Bull KTM rider Ken Roczen is guaranteed to finish inside the top five following his first full season of 450SX Class competition. Roczen currently sits fourth in the standings and comes into MetLife Stadium on the heels of a seventh-place effort in Seattle. The break in action this past weekend allowed Roczen to re-energize himself for the final two races of the season and he’ll come out swinging on Saturday in hopes of closing out the year the way he started it.
Team Honda Muscle Milk’s Justin Barcia has finished inside the top five for five consecutive races, including three podium results. Barcia’s recent surge has put him in a position to potentially grab his first win of the 2014 season over the final two races. Considering Barcia is a New York native, the chance to race and win in front of the hometown crowd is the opportunity of a lifetime and following a fifth-place finish in Seattle, Barcia’s feeling optimistic about Saturday.
“I’m not thrilled on how [Seattle] ended up. It was a tough day,” stated Barcia. “I struggled a lot with bike setup and the track was really challenging. Going from east coast to west coast dirt and track conditions was difficult, and I wasn’t able to adapt or find the right settings. I rode okay in the Main Event; didn’t get a great start and just had to fight through the pack to finish fifth. I was able to regroup and we’re heading into New York strong. I want to win there bad; it would be incredibly special since it is a home race for me. I know I can win, we just need to put all the pieces together.”
In his third race of the 2014 season, Team Honda Muscle Milk’s Trey Canard posted his third straight top-10 finish. The veteran has shown consistent progress since returning to competition and in Seattle he was forced to battle his way through the field, showing he has the speed and ability to charge through the field. He’ll look to keep his solid run going inside MetLife Stadium.
“My start was not where it needed to be [in Seattle],” said Canard. “I felt good all day and really enjoyed the track and my bike, so I thought it would be a good opportunity to be up there racing with the top guys. Unfortunately, I started outside the top 15 and had to work my way all the way through the pack. I’m happy to have been able to make it into sixth and head into New York healthy.”
BTOSports.com KTM’s Andrew Short was engaged in a heated multi-rider battle for the top five in Seattle. Short has been one of the most consistent riders in the championship throughout the 2014 season, finishing inside the top 10 in 14 of the 15 races thus far. As one of the most experienced riders in the sport, Short recognizes the significance of Monster Energy Supercross’ return to East Rutherford and is looking to make the most of it.
RCH Racing/Soaring Eagle Suzuki’s Josh Hill was inspired in Seattle, racing in front of his native Pacific Northwest crowd. Hill was a fixture inside the top 10 all night long and ultimately finished ninth. He has five top 10 finishes in the last seven races and will look to post a season-best result in East Rutherford.
GEICO Honda rider Eli Tomac challenged for his second career podium finish in Seattle, but ultimately settled for fourth. Tomac is feeling more and more comfortable on his Honda and has finishes of sixth, ninth, and fourth over the last three races. He’ll look to pick up where he left off on Saturday night.
“Overall I am pretty satisfied with my night [in Seattle],” stated Tomac. “It was a long 20 laps, but I’m getting stronger and stronger each weekend. It was an okay start; I was somewhere around the top seven, then made some early passes and ended up settling in fourth place.”
The first race inside MetLife Stadium also signifies the return of the Eastern Regional 250SX Class Championship, which will host its penultimate round of the 2014 season on Saturday night. The championship battle will go down to the wire in this division, with just eight points separating the top two.
Monster Energy/Pro Circuit/Kawasaki’s Martin Davalos is in search of his first career title and currently sits in position to do so as the championship leader. The Ecuador native has two wins to his credit this season, including the most recent stop in St. Louis. As a result, Davalos brings the momentum into East Rutherford and can take one step closer towards the championship with a strong finish on Saturday. He’s finished off the podium just once in seven races this season.
“We had a good break and are ready to get back at it in New York,” said Davalos. “I feel confident in the position we’re in and I’m approaching this weekend the same way we’ve approached every other race. I’d love to grab another win and keep the ball rolling. I’m excited to see what it’s going to be like in such a big city.”
Fellow Monster Energy/Pro Circuit/Kawasaki rider Blake Baggett has a chance to move into sole possession of third in the championship with a pair of strong rides to close out the season. Baggett has one win to his credit in 2014 and four podium finishes, including a third in St. Louis. He’ll look for continued consistency inside MetLife Stadium.
“We’ve had a solid season and I hope we can keep it going in New York,” said Baggett. “I’d love nothing more than another win and finish the season on a high note. We’ve had a good break and we’re excited to start racing again.”
GEICO Honda’s Justin Bogle is the other key figure in the championship battle for the Eastern Regional title. Bogle earned his first career win two races ago in Toronto and it has vaulted him into being a title contender. In seven races this season, Bogle has five podium finishes to his credit and will look to close an eight-point deficit in the standings.
“I’m right where I need to be with my riding. A few races ago we were 25 points back and now we’re only eight with two races left, so it’s going to be a battle until the end,” explained Bogle. “I am happy with the points we’ve gained and now I am just ready for New York.”
Fellow GEICO Honda rider Matt Bisceglia has showed promise in his rookie season. The Texas native has three top 10 finishes to his credit this season, including a seventh in St. Louis. Bisceglia will look for another solid result in East Rutherford.
GEICO Honda will also hope for the return of Blake Wharton, who injured his knee earlier this season. Wharton underwent surgery and has been recovering in hopes of getting back on track in East Rutherford.
Yamalube/Star Racing Yamaha’s Jeremy Martin has endured a tough sophomore season, but has posted some impressive results. Martin is considered to be one of the sport’s rising stars and will hope to build on his season-best fourth-place finish at MetLife Stadium.
For more information on the Monster Energy AMA Supercross, an FIM World Championship, please log on to www.SupercrossOnline.com, the official website of Monster Energy Supercross.