Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Wharton Wins St. Louis Supercross (Video)

The GEICO Powersports/AMSOIL/Honda team again proved the strength of its farm system at the St. Louis round of the AMA Supercross Championship, as rookie Blake Wharton grabbed his first-ever main-event win in front of more than 55,000 fans inside the Edward Jones Dome.

After winning his heat race and then grabbing his first podium a week earlier in New Orleans, Wharton grabbed the holeshot in the main event and led every single lap.

“I was thinking about how I was going to be smooth, because if you worry about what’s behind you, then that’s taking the focus off of what’s in front of you,” Wharton said. “In supercross, you’ve got to be paying attention at all times, and focus on what’s ahead. I didn’t want to look back, and I didn’t even know how big of a lead I had. I just went across the finish line and looked back and had a good distance. If you’re looking back or thinking about what’s behind you, you’re going to crash or something dumb, so...”

Wharton showed veteran composure, and the win vaulted him to fourth in points, just a few points behind second and third.

“Blake has struggled a little bit with his starts, which has impacted his finishes,” team manager JC Waterhouse said. “His focus has been on improving that part of his race day, and obviously he has sorted that out, and the results have followed. It was a great effort by Blake, and a great effort by the entire team. It was a lot of fun to get back on the top of the podium again.”

Wharton’s Lites teammate Daniel Blair rode strong all night but got in a few tough spots, finishing eighth.

In the 450cc class, star Kevin Windham actually won his heat race to start the night. In the main, though, Windham nearly got gathered into a first-turn crash and had a hard time moving forward on the very original track layout. He was stuck behind Matt Boni for much of the race, eventually finishing ninth.

“I probably should’ve been a little bit more dirty, but I never really even got in a position to nail him, you know?” Windham said. “Travis [Pastrana] built a track that had all these little, mini walls in there, so essentially, if you have a track that’s 20 feet wide, and you put a berm in the middle that’s two feet wide, you do the math and you’re not dealing with much of a track there. I think it was a horrible track for racing. It was all right for riding, and it kept you on your toes and was exciting – Travis had some interesting ideas and thought outside the box a little bit – but I don’t think it was a good racetrack. A lot of the berms were waist-high and they were like little, mini walls, so you couldn’t enter them late, and you couldn’t exit them early, and you couldn’t put two bikes in one berm at one time.”

From here, the GEICO Powersports/AMSOIL/Honda team heads to Toronto for round 13 of the AMA Supercross Series, and round seven of the Lites Eastern Regional Supercross Championship, March 28 inside Rogers Centre.

Until then, we'll see you at the races.