Steve Cox, our man in the States, was apparently in a bit of a state in the States thanks to a Monster Energy party with a free bar after the Las Vegas finale. Here’s what he has to say…
If race reports around the moto-media universe seem vague then blame it on Las Vegas. Sin City doesn’t have a closing time. Drink all day, all night, then all day again – if your liver can handle it, you can do it.
Immediately after the Las Vegas SX finale people hit the Monster Energy party at the Aria Hotel where there was an open bar and Nelly showed up for a special concert. Apparently, he’s a rapper. Or, if he wasn’t, he sure did rap a lot for a guy who isn’t a rapper. By the next morning recalling the specifics of the previous night’s racing was understandably difficult.
But if you want to know, here you go…
The race format for Vegas is different than any other race. Instead of two Lites heat races, an LCQ and a Main Event the two heats are replaced by two Lites Main Events – 15 laps for the West and 15 laps for the East – and the top nine in each go on to the East/West Shootout which is 10 laps long and happens just before the 450cc Main Event. Racers who don’t make the Shootout from their Main Events line up for a traditional LCQ where the top two go to the Shootout.
Both of the Main Events serve as the season finales for each respective series and pay points just like normal. Still with me?
Starting with the Lites East, both Main Events are runaways with each series’ champ – both from the GEICO Honda team – going out and dominating all 15 laps. The Lites East race goes to Justin Barcia while the Lites West goes to Eli Tomac.
The GEICO Honda team do what most thought impossible – sweeping the championships on both coasts by defeating the juggernaut Monster Energy/Pro Circuit Kawasaki team then following this up with dominant performances in both Main Events at the finale.
And when the Shootout hits the track the Barcia/Tomac show picks it up a notch as the two of them start near the front, battle back and forth a bit with Rockstar Energy Suzuki’s Martin Davalos, then take off, sweeping the top two spots in the Shootout with Barcia taking the win in his final SX Lites event. He will be joining the factory Honda 450cc racing team in 2013 but Tomac has at least one more year in the Lites class.
Red Bull KTM’s Ryan Dungey has always ridden great in Las Vegas and after winning the previous week in Salt Lake City he seems poised to add another win to his total in Vegas.
Suzuki-mounted Mike Alessi grabs the holeshot over Dungey but Dungey doesn’t waste much time, going by on lap two for the lead and then flat-out checking out while Monster Energy Kawasaki’s Jake Weimer (also historically strong in Vegas) dukes it out with Alessi, Brett Metcalfe, Davi Millsaps and Justin Brayton. Weimer catches up to second at one point but even when he’s in second place he’s so far behind Dungey that there’s very little hope of him catching the KTM racer.
However, Millsaps eventually catches Weimer for second and although Weimer puts up a fight Millsaps relegates him to third at about the halfway point. Brayton then knocks Weimer back to fourth with about five laps to go in the 20-lap Main Event. So Dungey takes the win over Millsaps and Brayton while Weimer ends up fourth.
In the points standings Ryan Villopoto is still the champ as he clinched the title four rounds early but with his runner-up finish Millsaps grabs second in the points which is the best the JGR/Toyota Yamaha team have ever done in a championship. A lot of people figured the JGR team would have their best result ever in 2012 and the JGR team have done just that – perhaps not how people figured they would, though
Ryan Dungey and Justin Brayton end the season tied for third in the points standings but Dungey gets the tiebreaker by virtue of having more race wins as Brayton has yet to win his first race.
Now it’s on to the AMA nationals which seem like they will be a battle mostly between 2010 champ Ryan Dungey on his KTM and 2008 champ James Stewart on his factory Suzuki…