After crashing several times in practice and again in his heat, Villopoto advanced out of Semi 2 and went on to dominate the 20-lap 450SX Main Event. The three-time reigning champ moved into the lead on the opening lap and was unchallenged for the remainder of the race, ultimately beating Justin Barcia by 13.7 seconds.
“It was awesome tonight considering everything we had to overcome,” said Villopoto. “With the start the way it was, I don’t think I could have asked for anything more and it made my life easy. The track was tough, but our Kawasaki was able to handle everything. That’s not the way I wanted the heat race to go, but we were able to bounce back even stronger.”
Rookie Ken Roczen was third ahead of Trey Canard. James Stewart, who won the previous three events, battled through an illness to notch his ninth top-five result of the season. Unfortunately for Stewart, he now faces a 45-point deficit with only three races remaining.
Ryan Dungey overcame a crash on the opening lap and passed 11 riders to finish seventh, one spot behind fellow KTM rider Andrew Short. Dungey drops to third in the championship, 46 points out of the lead.
The series now heads to Seattle, Wash., where Villopoto can mathematically clinch his fourth consecutive championship. If achieved, Villopoto will join Jeremy McGrath as the only two riders in history to win four premier class titles in a row.
450SX Class Results: Houston
1. Ryan Villopoto, Poulsbo, Wash., Kawasaki
2. Justin Barcia, Pinetta, Fla., Honda
3. Ken Roczen, Murrieta, Calif., KTM
4. Trey Canard, Shawnee, Okla., Honda
5. James Stewart, Haines City, Fla., Suzuki
6. Andrew Short, Smithville, Texas, KTM
7. Ryan Dungey, Belle Plaine, Minn., KTM
8. Mike Alessi, Hilliard, Fla., Suzuki
9. Eli Tomac, Cortez, Colo., Honda
10. Chris Blose, Phoenix, Ariz., Honda
450SX Class Season Standings
1. Ryan Villopoto, Poulsbo, Wash., Kawasaki, 293
2. James Stewart, Haines City, Fla., Suzuki, 248
3. Ryan Dungey, Belle Plaine, Minn., KTM, 247
4. Ken Roczen, Murrieta, Calif., KTM, 235
5. Justin Barcia, Pinetta, Fla., Honda, 198
6. Justin Brayton, Cornelius, N.C., Yamaha, 196
7. Andrew Short, Smithville, Texas, KTM, 181
8. Broc Tickle, Holly, Mich., Suzuki, 126
9. Wil Hahn, Menifee, Calif., Honda, 122
10. Josh Hill, Yoncalla, Ore., Suzuki, 112