Dallas presented some of the most difficult track conditions of the season, but in the end James Stewart cemented himself as the hottest rider in the championship by grabbing back-to-back victories and vaulting himself into the title hunt. The debut of the 250SX East Region produced yet another first time winner this season and gave a glimpse into what could become a dominant run for the most successful team in history.
Each week, The Holeshot will provide 22 takeaways – a full starting gate – from the most recent round of action.
1. An all-clay track with little to no dirt provided very tricky conditions inside the massive AT&T Stadium. Typically the move indoors favors better racing due to the controlled environment, but a glass-like surface put throttle and bike control at a premium.
2. Given the conditions, it was anyone’s race to win in the 450SX Class. It wasn’t a track that catered to aggressive riding so whoever emerged out front off the holeshot carried a huge advantage. Stewart was up front early and capitalized on the opportunity.
3. Stewart has been on the cusp of this type of run all season. He’s been on his game since the opening round, but he’s really seized the moment the last couple weeks by riding patient, riding smart, and minimizing his mistakes. He’s not reaching beyond his comfort level much, and a lot of that is due to the great starts he’s had. Starting up front makes the job that much easier.
4. After starting the year with a 17th-place finish, Stewart is now just 14 points out of first. Aside from that Anaheim crash, he’s been exceptional and oddly enough is becoming the most consistent rider this season. Not something we’re accustomed to seeing from a rider who for many years either won or crashed.
5. A year ago, Ryan Villopoto began his season in 16th place and was able to take over the points lead following Daytona. We’re just a couple weeks away from returning to the World Center of Racing and Stewart could very well be in a similar position if he keeps this up.
6. Villopoto had an uncharacteristic showing in Dallas but I think it was largely a result of the track conditions. He had no choice but to be patient when it was so slick and he methodically moved forward to ultimately secure a fourth-place finish. He still has the ability to shed some points if needed, but rest assured he’s well aware of the blazing path Stewart is paving.
7. Ryan Dungey’s podium drought finally came to an end in Dallas. It’s been a tough season thus far for the former champ who I think has crashed more than ever before. He got the holeshot last week and held an early lead, but I think Stewart was willing to push the limit just a little more and it ultimately landed Dungey in second with his most solid ride in some time.
8. Justin Barcia joined his rivals on the podium for the first time this season and looks to be more confident. He’s always done well indoors so this could be the beginning of a run of good results for BamBam.
9. Speaking of BamBam, Barcia didn’t make any more friends in Dallas with his aggressive riding towards Ken Roczen and Villopoto. At one point Barcia whipped his rear wheel into Roczen’s face and resulted in some displeasure from the German after the race. Both Roczen and Villopoto reportedly made a formal complaint to the AMA when things were all said and done.
10. Justin Brayton appears to be heading in the wrong direction as we near the halfway point of the season. While he’s still riding well, the sizzle he had early on just doesn’t seem to be there. A lot of his success came from strong starts and it’s been a while since he’s put himself up front.
11. Chad Reed bravely attempted to give it a go in Dallas, but had his shoulder pop out during practice. It was a tall task to even think he’d be able to race, but nevertheless he was able to call it quits on the season knowing he at least tried to keep his title hopes a reality. Reed is as tough as they come.
12. In his absence, Reed made the biggest news of the season in revealing that Dean Wilson would ride select rounds back east on the TwoTwo machine. The relationship between Reed and Wilson dates back a couple seasons and the talk of putting Dean on this bike has been around as long as the pair have been close. With no pressure on him, it will be interesting to see how Dean fares in the premier class.
13. On the heels of a 1-2-3 finish in the 250SX East Region opener, Pro Circuit Kawasaki already has the makings on an incredibly dominant campaign. Considering how tough it was for the team out west, Dallas was exactly the remedy to get things back on track.
14. We all knew Adam Cianciarulo was special, but I doubt many expected him to be able to win his first time out. He showed great tenacity for someone who’s never had to race competitively in supercross and he had an answer for pretty much anything that was thrown at him. No doubt one of the greatest debuts in history.
15. Blake Baggett looked a little frustrated with his second-place finish, but considering he’s coming off a broken foot he’s got to be happy with that performance overall. He maybe could have been more aggressive on his teammate, but it’s not worth the risk of potentially ruining both their nights as well as the team’s. However, you can expect things to be that way all season long.
16. Can Martin Davalos cut a break? He’s been so close so many times but just hasn’t been able to seal the deal. Right now he’s the fastest rider in the class and if he continues to put himself up front, he definitely will win a race before the season is over. In fact he has a great chance at not only winning multiple races, but also the championship.
17. As much of a bummer as it was to see Martin give away the win like that, to still grab a podium finish after two separate crashes is impressive.
18. Where was GEICO Honda? While Matt Bisceglia is given a pass in his first supercross race, I was surprised that neither Blake Wharton nor Justin Bogle were much of a factor. Sure Bogle is coming off an injury, but Wharton had the best opportunity of his career come his way and I thought he’d be challenging for the podium right away.
19. Jeremy Martin also endured a nightmare of a day. The sophomore rider was probably a popular dark horse pick to be a title contender but after failing to even make the main, his title hopes are all but lost. Expect him to come out swinging in Atlanta.
20. I was also surprised that Kyle Cunningham wasn’t better. He came into the season a bit under the radar after signing with MotoConcepts, but a poor start in the main event forced him to fight from outside the top 10. He has as much experience as Davalos in this class and I would think he’ll step things up at some point.
21. Promising starts for both Anthony Rodriguez and Gavin Faith ended with heartbroken faces as each rider crashed out of the main event. Rodriguez was running third when he went down, as was Faith.
22. Can Pro Circuit sweep the podium at each race this season? Given how much better they were than everyone else in Dallas I’d have to say it’s a real possibility. However, I think the close proximity of all three riders and the inevitable battles they will engage in each week means someone is bound to have a hiccup that could cost them a shot at perfection.