This Week in Monster Energy Supercross: New Orleans

_Monster Energy Supercross - News Release
_

AURORA, Ill. (April 13, 2012) - Newly-crowned Supercross Class Champion Ryan Villopoto will lead the Monster Energy AMA Supercross, an FIM World Championship, field into action tomorrow night following the lone break in action for the 2012 season. The Mercedes Benz Superdome in New Orleans will serve as the 14th race on the schedule, and a chance for Villopoto, aboard his Monster Energy Kawasaki, to add to his impressive win total.

Villopoto became the first repeat title winner since the 2006 season at the previous stop in Houston, capturing his eighth victory of the year to put the finishing touches on an impressive title defense and make history by securing the title earlier than any rider before him. With four weeks of racing still remaining, it's business as usual for the champion, who will continue to target race wins for the remainder of the season.

"We couldn't have wrapped it up at a more perfect time," said Villopoto, who clinched the title with four races left. "We were able to enjoy the Easter holiday and really step away from racing for a few days. Going into New Orleans the plan doesn't change, though. We are still racing to win and won't be happy with anything short of that."

Villopoto's Monster Energy Kawasaki teammate Jake Weimer is one of several riders who will look to grab a win of their own over the final four races of the 2012 championship. Weimer has grabbed podium results three times this season, including a third-place finish at Houston, and would like nothing more than his first career victory in the premier class to cap off his first full season of competition in the division.

"It was great to have a weekend off and get a break from the normal race weekend," said Weimer. "In Houston, I showed where I should be and plan to be for the rest of the season. Confidence plays a large role in this sport, so coming off a podium made for two really good weeks of riding leading up to this weekend in New Orleans."

Toyota/Yamaha/JGRMX's Davi Millsaps will be the lone rider representing Joe Gibbs Racing this weekend in New Orleans, following confirmation from the team that James Stewart will sit out as a result of the effects of his crash in Houston. Millsaps has been one of the strongest riders in the Supercross Class over the second half of the season and sits just one point away from moving into second in the championship standings. He has posted three podium results in the last four races, and is a former winner in the premier class.

Team Honda Muscle Milk's Justin Brayton is another rider who has come on strong over the second half of the Monster Energy Supercross season. Brayton, like Weimer, has never won in the Supercross Class, and like Weimer, he has also posted three podium results this season. Coming off a fifth-place finish in Houston, Brayton will look to bounce back in New Orleans.

"I really wanted to be back on the podium (in Houston), but after not getting a great start I had my work cut out for me," said Brayton. "I felt good, and after getting a little more riding in during the week I'm heading to New Orleans strong."

GEICO Honda's Kevin Windham was hoping to have a homecoming in New Orleans and compete in front of his hometown crowd. However, after his heat race crash in Houston, Windham will sit out the remainder of the 2012 season and his impressive streak of 102 consecutive main event starts will come to an end.

"It's disappointing," said Windham. "I've been lucky at avoiding big get-offs like the one I had in Houston for the past several years. Staying healthy has been a big part of my career going this long. But, even after this one I'm not done. I'll be back for sure. I'll be at the New Orleans race and we'll try to get out to Vegas for the finals. I want to stay involved and hang out with the fans as much as possible."

Yoshimura Suzuki's Brett Metcalfe was glad to see the lone break of the Monster Energy Supercross season. Following a string of solid results to kick off the second half of the season, Metcalfe has experienced misfortune the previous two races, finishing 18th and 12th at Toronto and Houston, respectively. He enters New Orleans eighth in the championship standings, but has the opportunity to move up over the final month of competition.

"I've always done well in Houston, so this was bit of a bummer," said Metcalfe. "In the main, in the first corner, I got pushed off balance and accidentally hit my rear brake and stalled my bike. I should have come out fifth or sixth, but I ended up at the back. So I got going and was putting passes together when someone crashed in front of me and I had nowhere to go. I ran into him and went down and stalled the bike. So I got restarted in complete last, and put my head down and managed to climb back up to 12th. But, we've kept at it and will come back strong for New Orleans and these last few races."

Monster Energy/Pro Circuit/Kawasaki's Broc Tickle is on the verge of breaking into the top 10 in the Supercross Class standings, thanks to an impressive streak of four consecutive top 10 finishes. Tickle's confidence continues to grow with each week and he's looking to keep the momentum going into New Orleans tomorrow night.

"Every week we make small gains in the bike and how comfortable I feel," said Tickle. "The last two weeks I rode some outdoors, which really helped me loosen up. To finish in the top-five has been my goal all season and I'm ready to make that happen this weekend in New Orleans."

Star/Valli Yamaha's Bobby Kiniry enjoyed his best result of the season in Houston. Getting a great start, Kiniry was third off the gate and ran in the top five for the first few laps before bringing home a well-deserved sixth place.

"I'm just pumped," said Kiniry. "Houston was my best result this year and I feel like we're building consistently now. I rode smart, I got a good start, and I got the Yamaha out in front of the pack, right off the bat. Now, I'm really looking forward to New Orleans. I've raced there once or twice, and I'm comfortable down there. We're getting the ball rolling now and I know where I belong, and that's up front, and I think I'm showing that now."

Kiniry's teammate Nico Izzi continues to contest the Supercross Class on the East Coast, though officially he's campaigning Western Regional Supercross Lites Class. In Houston, Izzi put in a smart ride and turned consistent laps to finish eighth.

"It was a good day in Houston," said Izzi. "We had good practice times and a good heat. In the main, I had a good pace on those first 10 laps, but then I got a little tired and I backed it down. But, I'm pumped to be in the top 10 again, and the team rode well and everybody took a step forward. Now, I'm looking forward to racing in New Orleans, and then getting back to the Lites Class."

In the Eastern Regional Supercross Lites Championship, GEICO Honda's Justin Barcia will look to move past a heartbreaking finish in Houston and return to the top of the podium, increasing his advantage in the standings while doing so. Barcia has yet to finish off the podium through seven races this season and looks to be well on his way to defending the Eastern Regional crown. He'll go after his sixth win tomorrow night.

"I am really upset with how the race (in Houston) ended up," said Barcia. "Regardless though, we still ended in second and earned points, which is most important. We are that much closer to the ultimate goal of a championship but I can't help but be bummed about not getting that sixth win."

Rockstar Energy Racing Suzuki's Blake Wharton rode to a solid fourth-place finish in Houston, but was looking for more in his home state. With a win under his belt, Wharton knows he has the speed to run up front and challenge Barcia, and will look for his second victory of the season in New Orleans.

"It was a rough night for me in Houston, but I salvaged fourth," said Wharton. "I definitely wanted to be on the podium, but I had a crash in my heat race and that put me in a bad position. But that's racing; you have to go through your good times and your bad times. But, I still felt pretty good and I managed to get some points, so I'm happy about that. I definitely want to get going for Louisiana. New Orleans is going to be a great race, I've raced there and I want to win."

Following several close calls and three podium efforts, Red Bull KTM's Ken Roczen broke through for his first win of the 2012 season in Houston. The win was the second of Roczen's career in Monster Energy Supercross and it gives him considerable momentum coming into New Orleans. While he still sits 40 points out of the championship lead, Roczen is within striking distance of Wharton in second, just eight points away.

Monster Energy/Pro Circuit/Kawasaki's Darryn Durham had his most difficult outing of the season in Houston. After battling his way through the field from a bad start, Durham experienced even more misfortune, relegating him to a season-worst 17th-place finish, forcing him to lose ground to his competitors in the championship standings. He, more than anyone, will be looking to bounce back in New Orleans.

"We didn't have the best of luck before the break," said Durham. "I got caught up in a few pile-ups and had to battle from the back. Over the break, I just put that race behind me and focused on turning things around in New Orleans. We had some fun testing outdoors over Easter weekend, but I'm excited to get back on the Supercross track."

Monster Energy/Pro Circuit/Kawasaki's Blake Baggett boasted an impressive effort in Houston, wrapping up his third podium result of the season in third. Baggett's consistency hasn't been where he was hoping it would be in 2012, but he's still proving that the speed is there to succeed.

"I really felt strong at the last race in Houston," said Baggett. "It's just too bad I didn't start the season like that. Coming into New Orleans, I'm going to keep the ball rolling and try to end the season on a high note."

Star/Valli Yamaha's Kyle Cunningham returned to racing in Houston after missing Toronto due to injury. Cunningham had a strong showing in his heat race and finished an impressive fourth. In the main event, he got caught up in a turn-one pile-up, but still managed to work his way through the field to finish ninth.

"I was riding pretty good in Houston," said Cunningham. "I felt like we made progress from practice to the heat race. Then, I got in the first-turn pile-up in the main and had to come from way back to ninth. We've just had some bad luck. I've ended up on the ground by myself and with other people, but that's how it goes. We'll try to come back strong and do something good for New Orleans."

Cunningham's Star/Valli Yamaha teammate Kyle Peters continues to progress and improve as his rookie season plays out. Peters was right there with Cunningham in his heat race and followed his teammate home in fifth at Houston. In the main event, Peters turned in consistent laps before fatigue set in and he finished 11th.

"I got a good start and rode decent for a few laps in Houston," said Peters. "But, then I got pumped up and that was about it for me. (However), we finished the race and that's something to build on, for sure. I'm now ready for New Orleans and we'll see if we can improve there."

Tune into the enhanced exclusive weekly video content from Supercross LIVE! during the entire 2012 season on SupercrossOnline.com, the Official Website of Monster Energy Supercross.
**
Weekly Supercross LIVE! Video Content Schedule**
The Official Supercross LIVE! Pre-Show
Race Days at 11 AM Local Race Time

Behind the Scenes with Supercross LIVE!
All Day on Race Days

2 Minutes on the Track
Race Days at 3:30 & 5:30 PM Local Race Time

And on the Podium Tonight
Following Each Round's Main Events

The Official Supercross LIVE! Post-Show
Saturday Nights at Each Round

Toyota Tailgate Talk
Wednesdays at 5 PM ET

After The Checkered Flag
Thursdays at 5PM ET

For more information on the Monster Energy AMA Supercross, an FIM World Championship, please log on to www.SupercrossOnline.com, the official website of Monster Energy Supercross. For all media requests, please contact Denny Hartwig dhartwig@feldinc.com or 630-566-6305. To follow Monster Energy Supercross on Facebook and Twitter, log on to http://www.facebook.com/supercrosslive and http://twitter.com/supercrosslive.

About Feld Motor Sports®
Feld Motor Sports®, Inc. is the world leader in specialized arena and stadium-based motor sports entertainment. Feld Motor Sports, Inc. productions include Advance Auto Parts Monster Jam®, Monster Energy Supercross, AMA Arenacross Series, Nuclear Cowboyz®, and IHRA® Nitro Jam®. Feld Motor Sports, Inc. is a division of Feld Entertainment, the world's largest producer of live family entertainment. For more information on Feld Entertainment, visit www.feldentertainment.com.