In front of 49,759 fans inside NRG Stadium, the 2014 Monster Energy AMA Supercross Championship made its 41st visit to Houston on Saturday night. Monster Energy Kawasaki’s Ryan Villopoto dominated the 450SX Class Main Event to secure his fourth win of the season and extend his advantage in the championship standings.
In the return of the Western Regional 250SX Class Championship for its seventh race of the 2014 season, Rockstar Energy Racing’s Jason Anderson captured his fourth win of the season to extend his points lead.
Despite a difficult path to the Main Event that included a hard crash in his Heat Race and a needed win in the Semi, Villopoto put himself up front early after racing to the Nuclear Cowboyz Holeshot to start the 20-lap 450SX Class Main Event.
Behind him, title contender Ryan Dungey went down aboard his Red Bull KTM and fell to the tail end of the field while Team Yoshimura Suzuki’s James Stewart, who won the last three races heading into Houston, battled to put himself in the top five.
While Villopoto began to open a gap on the field, Team Honda Muscle Milk’s Justin Barcia and Red Bull KTM’s Ken Roczen asserted themselves in second and third, ultimately maintaining those positions throughout the Main Event. Villopoto was never challenged out front, posting a wire-to-wire effort for his most dominant performance of the season and his fourth straight win inside NRG Stadium.
“It was awesome tonight considering everything we had to overcome,” said Villopoto.
“With the start the way it was, I don’t think I could have asked for anything more and it made my life easy. The track was tough, but our Kawasaki was able to handle everything. That’s not the way I wanted the Heat Race to go, but we were able to bounce back even stronger.”
Barcia secured his third consecutive podium finish in second, while Roczen finished on the podium for the first time in three races in third. Stewart, who was battling an illness all day, rode to a fifth-place finish that allowed him to take over second in the 450SX Class standings while Dungey battled back from his opening lap crash to pass 11 riders and finish seventh.
Villopoto extended his lead in the championship to 45 points over Stewart as he chases a fourth straight title with three races remaining.
Troy Lee Designs/Lucas Oil Honda’s Jessy Nelson started the 15-lap Western Regional 250SX Class Main Event by grabbing the Nuclear Cowboyz Holeshot with Anderson and Monster Energy/Pro Circuit/Kawasaki’s Justin Hill in tow.
Anderson made a pass for the lead by the time the field entered the second corner and opened a gap. Hill and his Monster Energy/Pro Circuit/Kawasaki team-mate Dean Wilson followed suit and took over second and third, with Wilson making the pass on Hill and setting his sights on Anderson out front. On lap four, Hill crashed in the whoops, giving up the spot to Troy Lee Designs/MAVTV Honda’s Malcolm Stewart.
Anderson maintained about a two-second margin for the bulk of the race, until Wilson started closing in as they approached lappers. Wilson put on the pressure over the final two laps, with mere bike lengths separating the two, but was unable to make a pass happen before the finish.
It was the first Western Regional 250SX Class Championship race since the San Diego stop on February 8.
“It feels great to come back strong after such a long break. I’m super stoked to get the win,” said Anderson. “We did a lot of work over the break and it paid off. We killed it off the start and were able to run our own race.
“That’s going to be the key to winning this championship over the last few rounds, put myself up front and move into a position so we can do what we need to do.”
Wilson overcame a dislocated shoulder suffered in a crash during his Heat Race to finish second and grab his third podium in four races, while Stewart posted the third podium result of his career in third.Anderson’s main challenger in the Western Regional Championship standings, Cole Seely, finished fourth aboard his Troy Lee Designs/Lucas Oil Honda.
Anderson’s lead over Seely in the championship now sits at 11 points with two races remaining in the Western Regional 250SX Class Championship.
Monster Energy Supercross heads to Seattle’s CenturyLink Field next Saturday, April 12, for the 15th race of the 2014 season.