Arlington Supercross | Pre-Race Conference

Yoshimura Suzuki's James Stewart

Yoshimura Suzuki’s James Stewart

2013 Monster Energy AMA Supercross

The 2013 Monster Energy AMA Supercross series heads east Saturday to Cowboys Stadium in Arlington, Texas.

Heading into Arlington SX, Rockstar Energy Suzuki’s Davi Millsaps continues to hold the points lead as he did throughout the first six rounds. Millsaps won last weekend’s round at San Diego Supercross, and will be seeking his first-ever win at Cowboys Stadium this weekend.

Following is from the pre-race conference, with commentary from Millsaps, Monster Energy Kawasaki’s Ryan Villopoto, Muscle Milk Honda’s Justin Barcia, TwoTwo Motorsports Honda’s Chad Reed, Yoshimura Suzuki’s James Stewart, GEICO Honda’s Eli Tomac and Zach Osbourne, Rockstar Energy Racing’s Jason Anderson, Monster Energy Kawasaki’s Dean Wilson, and Monster Energy/Pro Circuit/Kawasaki’s Justin Hill.

“I’m doing the best I can,” said Millsaps. “If it’s me winning, or me finishing second, or me finishing third, as long as I’m doing the best I can, I’m happy with it. I’m definitely pumped for the whole team and everyone behind me. It was a pretty cool night. I think this win is a little cooler than the one at the season opener because I’ve never gotten the holeshot and led all 20 laps of a Main Event before. For me it was really special that I led the whole race without getting passed. The difference this year has been the preparation. I’m on a bike I love, that I’m comfortable with, a team that’s behind me and willing to give me anything I need and work with me.”

En route to extending his points lead to 19 over Red Bull KTM’s Ryan Dungey, Millsaps proved that consistency is key, becoming the only rider in this year’s field to finish in the top five at every race. His average finish through the first six races is 2.3 compared to Dungey’s 4. The San Diego win also marked Millsaps’ 100th consecutive start, and he is one of four riders in the sport’s history to win the 100th race of their career.

Monster Energy Kawasaki’s Ryan Villopoto, who is the two-time defending 450SX Class Champion, is no stranger to winning in this market. With a win this weekend, he can become the only rider in history to win three consecutive races in the Dallas/Fort Worth area. Villopoto finished sixth on Saturday night and has been playing catch up since the season opener where he finished 16th.

“I’m looking forward to heading to Cowboy Stadium,” said Monster Energy Kawasaki’s Villopoto. “Although the first few rounds have been up and down, we left California in one piece and in a good spot in the championship standings. I just want to limit my mistakes and put my Kawasaki back on the box.”

Team Honda Muscle Milk’s Justin Barcia made his third podium appearance of the season with a second overall aboard his CRF450R. Barcia came into San Diego seventh in season point standings, and with his second-place finish, he moved into the number-six position.

“The track was very challenging on Saturday; the whoops were a little sketchy and a majority of it was really tight and one-lined,” said Barcia. “I got a decent start and made my way into second after [Chad] Reed went down in a corner. I tried to keep up with Millsaps, but the lappers made it tough; overall tonight was awesome. I am really looking forward to the East Coast races. I think they will favor my style better since I know the tracks and the conditions.”

Barcia’s teammate Trey Canard put together another remarkable come-from-behind ride in the Main Event. He started 15th and eventually finished eighth; however, he dropped from third to fourth in season standings.

While putting pressure on the leader, TwoTwo Motorsports’ Chad Reed lost the front end in a corner dropping him back to seventh. He was able to recover a few positions to finish fifth overall. Reed has five top-five finishes this season and in 154 career starts, he has finished within the top five in 134 races.

“There are definitely some positives to take away from the race tonight,” said Reed. “We are making gains, and I am up there battling the guys up front, now I just need luck to go my way.”

Yoshimura Suzuki’s James Stewart picked up his second-consecutive fourth place. Riding with a torn ACL, Stewart is eighth in season point standings. Earlier this season, he failed to finish in the top five in five-consecutive races.

Stewart came into the San Diego race with several days of mid-week testing under his belt. The two-time 450SX Class Champion qualified second fastest during the day’s practice sessions and went into his eight-lap Heat Race with confidence. Near the halfway point of the race, he moved into the lead and rode to victory.

“This week I was able to get in two days of riding,” said Stewart, whose early-season injury had hampered his mid-week training. “It’s tough when you’re not able to put in the work during the week. But this was the best I’ve ridden all year, so I’m happy about that. I had to work for the win but it was fun.”

“In the Main Event in San Diego, I got a bad start and was way back there,” added Stewart. “But I made some passes … Overall, it was good and the Yoshimura Suzuki RM-Z450 was running great. I felt stronger in the main event, I just wished I’d been able to open up and pass some people. But I can’t complain – two fourth places, top five. It’s better than where we were, but it’s still not where we want to be. Now, we’ll go back and I’m going to focus on my starts and getting better for Arlington.”

While the Western Regional 250SX Class heads into a break until the Seattle stop on April, Red Bull KTM’s Ken Roczen has a 17-point lead in season standings over defending 250SX Class Champion Eli Tomac. Tomac opened the season in dominant fashion, winning three consecutive races, but a DNF at Oakland dropped him to third in the point standings. He’s since rebounded with the help a win last weekend in San Diego.

“Everything worked out really well tonight and I enjoyed myself,” stated Tomac. “It’s always nice to get a win no matter when it is, but being able to head into the break like this is great. We gained a few points on the leader but are still going to have to do a lot the last three races of the season to defend our title.”

Roczen has been the field’s most consistent rider, winning two Main Events and finishing second in four races.

Still on the mend from a shoulder injury sustained in Phoenix, fellow GEICO Honda rider Zach Osborne had another difficult night, placing seventh in the Main Event.

“I felt strong all day and liked the way I was riding but once again the result wasn’t as good as I wanted,” said Osborne. “I’m going to use this break to regroup and work on my starts so I can finish out the last three races with some podium finishes.”

One of the most talked about riders in this division is Rockstar Energy Racing’s Jason Anderson. Although he trails Troy Lee Designs/Lucas Oil Honda’s Cole Seely who is in third place, he has been within the top 10 at five of the six races, including two podium finishes.

“It was a good night; I struggled a little bit in practice and ended up qualifying seventh,” said Anderson. “I got good starts all night and ended up running up front so I’m happy about it. I got the holeshot in the Main Event. I actually shocked myself when I was up front. It’s a good feeling to be up there. I’ve just been applying what I do at the test track to what I do at the races. I’ve always been a good rider and been fast; it’s just been about putting it all together. That was only my third holeshot in three years.”

With the Tomac and Roczen’s advancement to premier class next year, Anderson may be the man to beat.

This weekend marks the start of the Eastern Regional 250SX Class Championship. Leading the way is Monster Energy/Pro Circuit/Kawasaki’s Dean Wilson. Wilson has been injured for the past 10 months and is excited to race for his first 250SX Class title. One of Wilson’s five-career wins came in Arlington in 2011.

“I couldn’t be more excited to line up in Arlington,” said Wilson. “It’s been 10 months since I last raced, and I feel strong and confident coming into the East Coast. Last time I raced at Cowboys Stadium I won, so I have good memories there.”

After spending several seasons fighting injuries GEICO Honda’s Wil Hahn will campaign for his first 250SX Class Championship. His career-best finish was a second overall in the 2010 Eastern Regional 250SX Class Championship.

In his first full season of racing in the U.S., Red Bull KTM’s Marvin Musquin finished third overall in the Western Regional 250SX Class last year. Musquin came to the U.S. by way of the World Motocross Championships, where he captured two titles.

Rockstar Energy Racing’s Blake Wharton enters his fifth season as a 250SX rider and has two Main Events wins. Last year he finished a career-best third overall in the Eastern Regional 250SX Class Championships.

Two highly touted rookies in Zach Bell and Justin Hill bring a wealth of amateur success to the table, but the question will be how they will adjust to the professional ranks. Bell will race for the GEICO Honda team and Hill will race for the Monster Energy/Pro Circuit/Kawasaki team.

“I’m ready to get this season started,” said Hill. “Making my pro debut in Dallas will be special and I think I can be competitive. I’ve been working really hard and I have the best team in the industry behind me.”

Check out all the action on Supercross LIVE! from 2 to 5 p.m. local time Saturday. SPEED TV will also broadcast the race live beginning at 7:30 p.m. EDT.

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