Rockstar’s Wharton leads the charge with encouraging third-place result
ST. LOUIS, MO (March 5, 2012) – The Rockstar Energy Racing teams celebrated their first podium of the 2012 AMA/FIM Supercross season at the Edward Jones Dome in St. Louis, MO, on Saturday night. Supercross Lites rider Blake Wharton captured the coveted main event podium position with a third-place finish in front of a record-breaking crowd of almost 60,000.
Rockstar Energy Racing’s Wharton was the holeshot hero in his Supercross Lites heat race, jumping out front immediately and leading all six laps to take his first heat race win of the year. In the main event, Wharton was running in the top five right off the bat. Putting in an aggressive ride, Wharton worked his way into a podium position before race’s end.
“It was a good night, I won my heat race,” said Wharton. “In the main, I got an average start and actually came together with some guys. But I managed to get through it and make some passes on some guys and ended up third. I’m happy to be on the podium, but I’d like to be on the podium more consistently, and that’s going to take better starts and good riding. Now, we go to Daytona and that’s a tough track. But I got fourth there last year, and I’m looking to improve on that.”
Rockstar Energy Racing teammate Hunter Hewitt looked good in his heat race until getting tangled up with another rider and going down hard. But he rallied and went on to get the holeshot in the LCQ, lead all four laps and take the win to advance to the main. In the Supercross Lites main event, Hewitt got pushed wide at the start and went down. Coming from behind, the Rockstar Energy Racing rider picked his way through the field to finish 12th.
“St. Louis was rough,” said Hewitt. “I had to go to the LCQ and won that. In the main, I got pushed outside on the first turn and went down. Then, I just tried to ride my race, and I feel like I pushed hard all the way through. We’re off to Daytona next weekend and it will definitely be a better weekend for me. I’m going in there with a clear head and a refurbished body.”
Also in Supercross Lites, Star Valli Yamaha’s Kyle Cunningham struggled with the start in his heat race, but still managed to finish seventh and advance to the main event. In the Supercross Lites main, Cunningham overcame another rough start, but put his head down and worked his way through the field to finish a very impressive eighth.
“We made some progress in St. Louis,” said Cunningham. “I had a bad heat race because I didn’t get a good start, and so I got a bad gate pick in the main. In the main, I got a good jump but got pushed wide all the way to the bales, and then rode the wheels off the bike for 15 laps. I came from 18th to eighth, but I kept it on two wheels and made some good passes on some good guys. So next week, I’ll work on my starts and get ready for Daytona.”
Star Valli Yamaha teammate Kyle Peters crashed hard on the opening lap of his heat race and had to go to the LCQ. Then, on the opening lap of the LCQ, he crashed again while making a move to get to the front and into a qualifying position. Although he didn’t make the main event, he didn’t further aggravate his injuries and is looking forward to racing at Daytona.
In the Supercross class, Rockstar’s Brett Metcalfe was riding well, despite tweaking his leg in practice and sitting out the opening ceremonies. He got the holeshot in his heat race and led the first few laps before finishing fourth. In the main event, Metcalfe got another good start and turned in consistent laps to bring home an eighth-place finish.
“The St. Louis track suits me,” said Metcalfe. “The dirt’s really tacky and gets nice ruts, and it’s tight and pretty technical. We got the holeshot in the heat race and I rode solid and got a fourth. In the main event, I got a good start but then I got pushed wide and got hung up a little bit. But I was in a good flow and in race mode, more so than I’ve been all year. We only got an eighth and we’re working on improving those results, but I think this weekend was a turning point for my season. Now, I’m looking forward to Daytona because it’s more of an outdoor track but still with some gnarly Supercross obstacles.”
Rockstar Supercross teammate Nick Wey celebrated his third top-10 finish of the season this weekend, despite having been ill the previous week. Initially, Wey made it to the main via the LCQ, where he got the holeshot, and took the lead and eventually the win. In the main event, Wey was the picture of consistency, getting a decent start, holding his own and carding 10th.
“St. Louis was pretty good,” said Wey. “I had a tough week; I had an ear infection and a sinus infection, so I was laid up in bed for a few days. So I was pretty stoked with how practice went. I’ve been working on my technique and trying to improve my speed, and it’s been paying off. In my heat race, I was riding well but crashed and had to go to the LCQ. In the main, I tried to ride some solid laps and be up there the best I could. Finishing 10th wasn’t so bad, considering I was sick this week. Now, I’m just enthused with how I’m riding and I’m excited about the upcoming races.”
Also in the Supercross class, Star Valli Yamaha’s Bobby Kiniry got a great start and was running in second place when a red flag from a downed rider caused a re-start in his heat race. After that, Kiniry had some issues but went on to finish the heat in eighth, which was good enough to make the main. In the main event, Kiniry brought it home in 14th.
“St. Louis was ultimately a good night,” said Kiniry. “I got a good start in the first heat, but in the re-start, my start button broke. But I was still able to work my way into a qualifying position. In the main, I got a decent jump and was with the 10th-place pack, but I got together with someone and lost a few positions. I really just tried to have a solid night after that. I’m real excited about Daytona, and I’m looking forward to racing on a more Outdoor-style track.”
Star Valli Yamaha added Weston Peick as a substitute rider in the Supercross class at St. Louis. In his heat race, Peick was in a transfer spot when he made a mistake and finished 10th, one spot away from transfer. In the LCQ, Peick gave it his all but finished third, again just one spot from transfer to the main. Star Valli Yamaha’s Ryan Morais and Austin Stroupe remain out due to injury, and teammate Nico Izzi had surgery on his injured wrist and hopes to race next weekend in Florida.
The next event for the Rockstar Energy Racing teams is the 10th round of the 2012 AMA/FIM Supercross Championship on Saturday, March 10th, at Daytona International Speedway in Daytona Beach, FL.
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