Story and photos by Jeff Kardas
San Diego's Qualcomm Stadium is one of the granddaddies on the AMA Supercross circuit, having been a part of the series since 1980. Only a few riders in that historical period have had much success there though, as riders tend to either win here regularly or not at all. Any guesses who holds the record for most premiere class wins at Qualcomm Stadium?
That's right. It's last weekend's winner Chad Reed, who's won San Diego six times in his 450SX class career. Just behind Reed on the all-time list is Jeremy McGrath, with five wins. Last year it was Suzuki-mounted Davi Millsaps who took it, and this year it's another Suzuki -- this time under James Stewart -- who is hoping to steal one before the east swing next weekend in Dallas. The momentum Reed has built for himself at this point is palpable and it seems sensible to predict another Reedy victory (his third this season) for San Diego this weekend.
But that's only if we forget about the ridiculous display of talent he'll be lining up against, as this start shot from last weekend's Anaheim 3 race illustrates so well. Nearly everyone displayed above, plus a couple more, could snag a win at any point, and with so much obviously riding on the start and first turn, this is more critical than ever in determining race outcomes. Ryan Villopoto and Ryan Dungey, though, have both nabbed holeshots and led several laps, only to fall in simple corner tip-overs, so it clearly takes more than just the ability to get to that first turn first to gain an elusive win.
The battles for top spot have been ferocious at every round thus far this season, and of course A3 was considered to be an epic version by most accounts. It was Reed who was able to keep in front of the young German Ken Roczen for the full 20 laps, never bowing to the pressure being applied by the former FIM MX2 World Champ.
Roczen snuck a wheel in on Chad a few times in the duel, even getting alongside at one point, but the pass was not to be. The combination of a tricky and slick track coupled with the wily veteran's ability to wick it up on demand kept the full-time rookie behind him to the checkers. Of note is that last year in San Diego, Roczen was 450 mounted, so it won't be his first go-round in front of the San Diego County locals on a big bike. Look for Roczen to make another dent in the leader board this weekend.
Just how tight has the racing been up front in the 450SX class? How about eight riders in the air at once on a jump? Reed made short work of getting around the defending champ, and almost unbelievably, Roczen wasn't far behind. The last time RV has been passed twice with both passes sticking has happened roughly never in recent memory.
The other Ryan -- Dungey -- had an even more forgettable night. After trying to move up and around Stewart for position, Ryan took Stewart down, and in the process bent up his own bike which resulted in a rare out-of-top-5 experience, ending up 20th after pulling out on the 12th lap. Of course this did not help his points chase chances one bit, as he slumped from second all the way down to sixth and 28 points out of the lead. In a field such as this, that sort of a deficit is significant.
Finally able to pull off his first win of the 250SX West season was pre-season championship favorite Dean Wilson, who'd thus far been unable to put his bike across the line first. Last weekend in Oakland it was an unfortunate bike bobble on the last lap that prevented the win, but this weekend it was all good as Deano put down the fastest and most consistent laps of anyone, and was close enough to a Cole Seely mistake while leading to pounce on the unfortunate rider's mistake to snare the win.
Points co-leader Jason Anderson will share the red plate duties with Cole Seely in San Diego, and thus far this season one could pretty well throw a towel over these two for a win. With Wilson seemingly rejuvenated, it will likely mix things up a bit in the points from here on out so keep a close eye on the front three as there's two riders tied for the lead, and another one hungrier than ever to realize a 250SX championship that's so far eluded him.
That about sums up the mid-week report, but if you take away anything from this brief synopsis make it this: Both classes this season are providing some of the greatest supercross racing in the history of the sport, and nearly anyone can sneak in a podium appearance. To see how it all goes down in San Diego, be sure to check back here at AMASupercross.com for Live Timing & Scoring plus schedules and photos, or our AMA Supercross Facebook page. If you aren't lucky enough to make it out to San Diego to catch the race in person, check it out on Fox Sports 1 LIVE, and double-check those local listings for times.