I’ve covered a lot of sporting events over the years, but this
is my first supercross race.
Qwest Field’s not sold out but there’s got to be around 50,000
fans in the stands, many of them pulling for Ryan Villopoto, the
Poulsbo rider who leads the series. Villopoto’s won five of the 15
previous rounds and holds a 5-point lead over defending champion
Ryan Dungey. Chad Reed and James Stewart lurk right behind as it’s
become a four-man race for the championship. After Seattle, the
tour heads to Salt Lake City in two weeks and then finishes in Las
Vegas the week after that.
The 250cc class just finished its heat races and the 450 guys
are in the starting gate. There’s two 8-lap heat reaces with the
top nine advancing to the main event, which will start at 9:30 p.m.
The rest of the guys will get another shot at the main event by
racing in the last-chance race for the final two spots. Villopoto,
or RV2 (his Kawasaki is No. 2) rides in the second heat race.
You can watch all of this unfold live on SPEED.
I have to admit I feel a bit like a fish out of water. The press
box at Qwest is filled with VIPS and others who spent big money to
get in the box. There’s section in the corner for the working
media, which I somehow missed. So I’m elbow to elbow with the
masses. Interesting, to say the lease. So much for not cheering in
the press box. There’s a lot of oohs and ahs and I’m trying to keep
up. Like a lot of sports, it’s sometimes easier to follow on
televison than it is to watch live.
Of course, the reason I’m here is because of Villopoto’s local
connection. He said he came up with about 60 tickets for family and
friends. Here’s a story I wrote about
Villopoto earlier in the week.
First heat: James Stewart rode his Yamaha to a dominant win. He
posted the fast lap of 50.78 seconds. Afterward he said he was
headed back to the trailor for a cup of coffee and to stay warm.
When Stewart doesn’t crash, he usually wins. The only rider to beat
him when he didn’t crash? Villopoto, who did it here in 2009 when
he won his first 450cc supercross race.
Second heat: Kevin Windham took an early lead and held it.
Villopoto was second and Ryan Dungey third. RV and Dungey gave the
fans some nice side-by-side racing at times and swapped second and
third two or three times. RV’s fast lap: 53.030.
My supercross expertise is limited (OK, I have no expertise),
but the track seems a little gnarly, particularly a series of nine
rolling speed bumps. Riders in the 250 and 450 heat races have been
crashing during that rhythm section. There’s also whoops (that’s
when the riders get b ig air) and triples (three larger hills right
in a row). They never duplicate a track while building it, so the
riders have to adjust every week.
Villopoto talked about the pounding riders take and you can see
why it’s a young man’s sport. Windham, at 33, is the old man of
FYI: They dumped 1.5 million tons onto the floor of Qwest Field
for the race.