The work has begun. Dodger Stadium (aka Chavez Ravine), the icon of baseball, haven to a world famous baseball franchise, is opening its doors to Supercross.
For the first time in the stadium’s illustrious 48-year history, 550 truckloads of dirt have been deposited on what many believe to be the best playing surface in the country. The dirt is being shaped into a supercross track for the third round of the Monster Energy Supercross World Championship taking place Saturday night, Jan. 22.
The mere fact that the powers that be in baseball at Dodger Stadium have decided to allow these hallowed grounds to be transformed into a mammoth supercross track speaks volumes about the respect the sport is finally garnering. Besides, it’s been some 38 years since the first ever supercross in America was held in neighboring Los Angeles Coliseum in 1972.
Storming into the famous Los Angeles landmark is the already electrified points chase for the 2011 Supercross title. As predicted, the season is shaping up to be an all out war between the various factions of superstars and first and second year rookies, and a few seasoned vets as well. The first two rounds (Anaheim 1 and Phoenix) have not disappointed.
Kawasaki’s number one pilot, Ryan Villiopoto, has returned to fighting form from the badly broken leg he suffered last season to finish first and second, presently standing atop the board with 47 points.
James Stewart has returned from a career threatening wrist injury to prove he still has the speed to retain "fastest man alive" moniker, taking his L&M San Manuel Yamaha to third in the first round and winning this past Saturday in Arizona to move him into second place with 45 points. Rounding out the top three contenders is a solid Ryan Dungey, the current number one plate holder aboard the Rockstar/Makita Suzuki, who is tied with Trey Canard (Team Honda) in points, each with 38.
Not trailing far behind is Chad Reed in fifth with 34 points. The Australian seems to be working the inherent bugs out of his brand new, somewhat last-minute team; Two Two Motorsports, and is adjusting to the Honda nicely. Brett Metcalfe looks strong aboard the 2nd Rockstar/Makita Suzuki.
Also getting their feet under the desk at the new job (so to speak) is Andrew Short with the Roger DeCoster managed KTM Team. Short finished tenth in round one aboard the 350cc KTM, improving to a seventh just one week later, already looking smoother and more confident on the Austrian orange machine.
Although it’s been said that "You can’t win a Supercross title in the first two rounds, but you can certainly lose it," there are a number of riders showing impressive speed deep into the field who would like to prove that statement wrong.
Ivan Tedesco has shown some serious speed, as have Kyle Chisholm and Justin Brayton. Then there’s the veteran (although he hates hearing that), Kevin Windham, who has put his Honda very close to the front. If he hadn’t been taken out in the Phoenix main event he would be several places further up the leader board.
The point spread may be opening up a bit, however Supercross is notorious for doling out huge surprises and upsets. Any rider will tell you, having five points over the guy behind you doesn’t seem like much of a cushion, while being five points down seems like an eternity.
We’re only two races into a long, 17-race series. With 15 rounds left the bets are still being placed.
So let the mind games and displays of aerial artistry continue. This weekend there are a number of riders that are determined to get their names in the record books; to get them one step closer to a World Title, as well as having the honor of being the first ever winner of the Dodger Stadium Supercross.
2011 Supercross Class Season Standings
1. Ryan Villopoto, Poulsbo, Wash., Kawasaki – 47
2. James Stewart, Haines City, Fla., Yamaha – 45
3. Trey Canard, Shawnee, Okla., Honda – 38
4. Ryan Dungey, Belle Plaine, Minn., Suzuki – 38
5. Chad Reed, Tampa, Fla., Honda – 34
6. Brett Metcalfe, Lake Elsinore, Calif., Suzuki – 26
7. Andrew Short, Smithville, Texas, KTM – 25
8. Kyle Chisholm, Valrico, Fla., Yamaha – 22
9. Ivan Tedesco, Murrieta, Calif., Kawasaki – 21
10. Justin Brayton, Cornelius, N.C, Yamaha – 20
2011 Supercross Lites Class Western Regional Season Standings
1. Josh Hansen, Elbert, Colo., Kawasaki – 50
2. Broc Tickle, Holly, Mich., Kawasaki – 44
3. Ryan Morais, Murrieta, Calif., Suzuki – 35
4. Tyla Rattray, Wildomar, Calif., Kawasaki – 35
5. Cole Seely, Corona, Calif., Honda – 34
6. Martin Davalos, Cairo, Ga., Suzuki – 30
7. Eli Tomac, Cortez, Colo., Honda – 27
8. Travis Baker, Temecula, Calif., Honda – 26
9. Kyle Cunningham, Aledo, Texas, Yamaha – 19
10. Ben Evans, Garden City, Idaho, Kawasaki – 18
11. Nick Paluzzi, Riverside, Calif., Yamaha – 18