As Supercross first wins go, you couldn’t get a much more impressive one than what Justin Barcia turned in at Chase Field in Phoenix this weekend in the Monster Energy AMA Supercross Series. After all, the Muscle Milk Honda rider led every lap of his heat race and every lap of the main event en route to a four-second victory over defending series champ Ryan Villopoto. The Muscle Milk Honda rider established his dominance from the get-go, pulling away from the field after grabbing the holeshot on the treacherous and hard-to-pass-on course. And while riders like Ryan Villopoto and Trey Canard struggled with the slippery conditions (both riders went down at one point in the main event), Barcia was steady and smooth… and fast! Only Villopoto turned a faster time during the main event than Bam Bam.
“It’s unreal, I’m pretty stoked right now,” said Barcia. “I don’t want to say I didn’t think it would come this quick, but [for it] to come here, right now, it’s pretty awesome. I was doing 51s pretty much the whole race and towards the end I was doing 52s except for I did another 51, I knew Villopoto was coming there at the end and I wanted to hold him off.”
Under the circumstances, the start was critical on the Phoenix course, and Barcia managed to nail it.
“I had first gate pick and I was a little worried about that,” said Barcia. “I picked my gate and then every other top guy picked to the inside of me and I was thinking that might not be good, but I ended up getting a really good jump and squeaked around everyone and put in some quick laps right away.”
There wasn’t much said about it before the race, but behind the scenes, Barcia was dealing with the after affects of a practice crash he suffered during the week.
“This week, at home, I had a really bad practice crash and I was lucky to come out of it okay and be here today. I had to do a lot of therapy on my shoulder. The team really got the bike dialed, I wanted to come to California this week and test, but I ended up going home. But the team made a couple of changes, Trey did a lot of testing this week, and I just went into those and the bike was perfect today,” Barcia explained.
After a disastrous race the week before at Anaheim, Ryan Villopoto redeemed his self somewhat with a come-from-behind runner-up finish in Phoenix, the Monster Energy Kawasaki rider coming from eighth in the main after a first-lap crash to second behind Barcia at the finish. It was one position less than he had hoped for, but a big improvement over the week before.
“It’s a lot better than it was last week, so we’re climbing the ladder and we picked up some good points,” said Ryan Villopoto. “Obviously it’s not where we want to me but it’s a lot better than where we were, so we’ll take it step by step and week by week, there’s a long way to go and a lot of points out there.
“The track was really slippery and I just lost the front end and went down. The track was really technical and it didn’t help that it was slippery, so it was hard to do consistently clean laps and it ended up biting me.”
The finish mover RV1 up to seventh in the Supercross points standings with 15 races left.
Davi Millsaps had a second-straight stellar performance to go with last week’s win at A1, turning in another podium finish for his Rockstar Energy Suzuki team. Millsaps barely missed out on getting the holeshot and then ran second for 14 laps before giving way to Canard and Villopoto. Trey Canard eventually crashed out of second on the final lap, bumping Millsaps back up to third. Until the main, Millsaps day hadn’t gone as well as expected.
“The race went pretty good, considering how my day was going,” said Millsaps. “I didn’t start off the day that great and I was just struggling all day, but I just tried to do the best I could and ride the best I could,” said Millsaps. “Walking away with third is not that bad, so no complaints there, I just wish I could have ridden a little better, those guys were just going pretty fast.”
Interestingly, Millsaps said that after last week’s win at A1 one, he got 5000 new followers on Twitter.
Chad Reed got a decent jump at the start and ran in third during the early stages of the race. The TwoTwo Motorsports rider battled with Millsaps for second, but gave way when Villopoto came calling. Reed’s average time during the final was just a tick under Barcia’s average and about a half second slower than Villopoto’s. meanwhile, Reed’s fastest time was a 52.341, while Villopoto’s was 50.880 and Barcia’s was 51.459. James Stewart’s average was 53.784 and his best time was a 52.231.
Trey Canard had a similar race to A1 in that he was in good position at the end of the race, but just got too cautious on the final lap and gave it away. In this case, the Muscle Milk Honda rider crashed out of a sure podium position and possibly a runner-up finish and ended the day in fifth. But that’s totally understandable for someone who has spent the last three years coming back from multiple “major” injuries.
“I’m just thankful to be here, it’s just hard to put into words that I’m able to do this,” said Trey Canard. “I’m having fun; on the 17th lap I remember thinking, ‘I’m having fun, this is awesome!’ And I was pumped to see Justin get the win, not only for him but for everyone here at Honda who has been through the trenches lately and worked really hard and hard a lot of negative things said about them. I’m just pumped to see things going so well.”
Yoshimura Suzuki’s James Stewart got the Phoenix round underway by posting the fastest time in qualifying and then going out and winning his heat race, which featured the likes of Villopoto and Canard. It was pretty cold in Phoenix on the night of the race, which could have accounted for Stewart’s main event performance, since he was nursing a still-sore knee. After getting off to a mediocre start in the final, running just inside the top-10, Stewart was passed by Villopoto on lap six, and from that point on, the Suzuki rider couldn’t match his afternoon performance. In the end, Stewie finished seventh.
Red Bull KTM’s Ryan Dungey had a day to forget, getting taken out at the start of his heat race and needing to transfer to the main event via the LCQ where he finished second to Jimmy Alberston. In the main, Dungey got a horrible start and could do no better than eighth.
Eli Tomac was on fire for the second week in a row, this time taking the Phoenix 250-class win by 10 seconds over Ken Roczen. Eli Tomac got a mediocre jump off the line, but squeezed around the inside and came out in around fifth place. From there the GEICO Honda rider worked the field, eventually passing Ken Roczen and Martin Davalos to take the lead. From there, the Colorado rider ran and hid.
“To finally get a win here at Phoenix is really cool because it’s the closest race to my hometown in Colorado,” said Eli Tomac. “So to win in front of friends and family is great.”
Two straight wins leaves Eli Tomac with a six-point advantage over Ken Roczen in the standings.
Red Bull KTM’s Ken Roczen made a last lap pass on Martin Davalos to claim the runner-up spot behind winner Tomac.
“I made a really beginner mistake on the start, I tipped over to the left and I had to put my right foot down,” said Roczen. “But rode a pretty good race, I had good speed and kept my head down and just charged. Had a couple of close calls with other riders but in the end second place was pretty good, I just have to keep fighting.”
“I passed Davalos though the whoops on the right-hand corner, I don’t know, he might have felt bad from his crash because he could have easily put a wheel in on me,” added Roczen.
Monster Energy Pro Circuit Kawasaki’s Martin Davalos had a horrendous crash in his heat race, but came back to transfer to the main with a win in the LCQ. Davalos led early in the 15-lap final, but was in no mood to give Tomac or Roczen a big fight.
“I hit a kicker on the face of the quad and came up a little short and went over the bars,” said Davalos. “I’m lucky I’m alive, that was horrible and it scared the crap out of me. My team had to put my bike back together from scratch and they did an amazing job getting it done in time.
“I got a great start from the very outside. I rode smooth laps up until lap eight, I knew Eli was coming, he was riding stronger than me, and I tightened up a little and just kind of cautious. I was riding with a very bad headache and my vision wasn’t the best. I saw Ken coming too, and I knew if I could get on the podium tonight it would be an amazing night for us.”