Unlike Past Years
For the past 17 years, the AMA Supercross Championship title has been shared by only five riders: Jeremy McGrath (7), Jeff Emig (1), Richy Carmichael (5), Chad Reed (2) and James Stewart (2).
But this year’s championship will be different. Already in the second half of the season, the series is en-route to having a new name endorse the number-one plate, one outside the fab five of past winners.
After Round 10 in Toronto, the race that started the second half of the 18-race season, only 17 points separate leader Ryan Dungey (214 points) and Ryan Villopoto (197). The Rockstar Makita Suzuki rider Dungey has three wins this year as a 450-class rookie while Villopoto, in his second 450cc year, won five of the last six races.
Sitting in third is San Manuel Yamaha rider Josh Hill with 177 points, with Honda Red Bull Racing rider Davi Millsaps in fourth (177), and GEICO Powersports Honda rider Kevin Windham in fifth (152).
Compared to last year’s final point standings, these are all new names in the top five, except for Windham. And unlike year’s past, the points are much tighter.
Why such parity? Obviously, some top racers are out of action due to injuries they sustained while competing, most notably defending champion James Stewart and his rival Chad Reed.
The San Manuel Yamaha rider Stewart and Monster Energy Kawasaki rider Reed are out due to similar injuries to their hands; both riders were involved in the famous wreck at Phoenix during Round 2. During last year’s championship, Stewart won, and Reed finished second.
But also out due to injuries are last year’s final third- and fourth-place finishers, Andrew Short and Josh Grant. The Honda Red Bull Racing rider Short fractured his right foot during Round 5 at San Diego. Joe Gibbs Racing Yamaha rider Grant has been out the whole season due to a shoulder injury he sustained during practice before the season opener at Anaheim, California.
So out of the top five finishers in the 2009 SX season, only one remains racing, Windham, who currently sits in the number-five spot with eight races remaining.
Who will be this sixth rider to be graced with the number-one plate next season? Due to much tighter racing this year, there’s more than one possibility. The season’s winner was usually determined by the Toronto race, but not this year…the championship is still wide open.