Supercross: Phoenix Will Be Hard-Pressed to Create More Storylines Than Anaheim

Richard AllenAnalyst IJanuary 8, 2013

The gate dropped on another Supercross season in Anaheim last weekend.
The gate dropped on another Supercross season in Anaheim last weekend.Steven Bisig-USA TODAY Sports

This Saturday night, the Monster Energy Supercross Series will stage its second race of the 2013 season in Phoenix. That race will have a lot to live up to after all the storylines provided by the opening event in Anaheim last weekend.

First and foremost, the race winner provided perhaps the most intriguing storyline of all. Davi Millsaps captured his first checkered flag since 2010 in San Diego when he outran the pack in the 20-lap main event. Even though the 24-year-old rider had finished second in the Supercross standings last season, his victory was considered very much a surprise by many who follow the sport.

One thing that made the Millsaps win such a surprise was the fact that he does not ride one of the bikes that receives significant support from one of the production factories. The so-called privateer Rockstar Energy Suzuki may not be privy to the inside secrets that the heavily backed factory teams have discovered to make their machines faster.

But if a rider who had not won in almost three years taking the victory on a privateer bike was not enough of a story, the man who Millsaps beat to the finish line with a last lap pass may have been even more unlikely.

Last year, Trey Canard had to be carried from the floor of Dodger Stadium after he had been landed on after a failed jump by the bike of Ryan Morais. The Team Honda Muscle Milk rider suffered fractures in three of the vertebrae in his back which had to be fused together by surgeons. Needless to say, more than just his career on a dirt bike was at stake in the days and weeks following the accident.

For Canard to not only recover enough to ride, but lead, the 450cc main event with less than one lap remaining was nothing short of miraculous.

And if those two stories aren't enough, there was high drama before the race ever even started. Star rider and former Supercross champion James Stewart was looking forward to his first start with the Yoshimura Suzuki team.

However, during a pre-race practice session, Stewart injured his right knee. Speed TV reporter Erin Bates broke the story on the air that the Haines City, Fla. native was questionable for the night's activities as he was in great pain. The team's manager even went before the cameras to state that he was not entirely sure his rider would be able to compete.

But eventually, Stewart did ride and was able to place 8th in the main event.

And no, that's not all the newsworthy stories to come out of Anaheim. Heavy pre-race favorite Ryan Villopoto struggled for much of the night. After getting off to a poor start in his heat race, the two-time defending champion was able to fight back and pressure young Justin Barcia to the finish line of the qualifier.

In the feature race, Villopoto's struggles went far beyond a poor start. The Kawasaki rider found himself either off the bike or off the course on three separate occasions over the course of the 20 laps. A disappointing finish of 16th was the result of the champion's difficulties. If he is to capture a third title in 2013, it will be an uphill battle from here. 

If the opening race in Anaheim was any indication, this season will be filled with great stories to follow. That action continues this weekend in Phoenix.