James Stewart wins muddy Daytona SX; Villopoto salvages fifth after fall

James Stewart, riding the Joe Gibbs Racing Yamaha, captured his second career Daytona Supercross By Honda victory on a muddy rain-soaked course Saturday night at Daytona International Speedway.

Stewart slipped past Joe Gibbs Racing teammate Davi Millsaps on Lap 3 and dominated the rest of the 16-lap event to win by a margin of 7.572 seconds.

“It means a lot,” said Stewart, whose previous Daytona Supercross win came in 2007. “I felt good all day. I was fastest in practice. Once I got in front, I was just trying to survive.”

Rain showers throughout the day made for a muddy course. Due to the course conditions, AMA shortened the Supercross Main Event by four laps and the Lites Main Event by three laps.

Rounding out the podium were Millsaps in second and Honda’s Kevin Windham in third.

Ryan Villopoto, the two-time defending Daytona Supercross champion and current AMA Supercross points leader, fell during the first corners of the race and salvaged a fifth-place finish.

Villopoto maintains a 29-point lead in the AMA Supercross championship standings over KTM rider Ryan Dungey, who sat out the race after undergoing surgery to repair a broken collarbone.

“That finish is a lot better than what it could have been,” Villopoto said.

In the exciting 12-lap Lites Main Event, Honda’s Justin Barcia stayed unbeaten in 2012 by holding off Kawasaki’s Blake Baggett by a margin of 2.537 seconds.

Barcia led from the start but received a challenge for the lead from Baggett in the final laps.

“It was such a tough race,” Barcia said.

“I gave it everything I had,” said Baggett, who won last year’s Lites Main Event at Daytona.

- KTM Report

Red Bull KTM duo Marvin Musquin and Ken Roczen rode to two solid fourth places on Saturday night in the Daytona SX and SX Lites East competitions in near impossible conditions on a rain soaked track where many riders failed to finish.

It was an impressive performance for the team’s two European riders and particularly for Musquin in only his second competitive ride in the big class on the KTM 350 SX-F. Marvin has been contesting the West Coast Lites this season and despite the difficult track conditions, his fourth was a big step up from his creditable ninth last weekend in St. Louis. He delivered a thrilling performance for the Florida race fans.

Heavy rainfall throughout the day had flooded the course causing mechanical issues and multiple crashes for many riders. Musquin already proved he had the technical skill and physical strength to handle the extreme conditions in order to keep out of trouble when he placed third in the heat race to win a great gate pick for the main event. Worsening track conditions caused the AMA officials to reduce the amount of laps in the main event from 15 to 12 laps.

Musquin came around the first lap in fourth in the main and was closing in on third placed Kevin Windham half way through the race when a small spill cost him the time he had gained. He recovered without losing a position and held on to fourth right through to the flag. His ride and the solid finish of teammate Roczen were important boosts for the team after an announcement on Friday that Ryan Dungey was out with a broken collarbone.

Marvin Musquin: “The conditions were tough but it was so fun. I am really disappointed my teammate, Ryan Dungey, couldn’t be here and I tried to do well for him tonight. It would have been nice to be on the podium but I am really happy to get this close. I want to thank my team and my mechanic for helping to prepare my bike for a race this challenging.”

Dungey remains in second in the series point standings despite not racing the Daytona Supercross. He is now at home healing up from a surgery to plate his collarbone. He plans to return to racing when he is 100% fit, currently estimated to be within the next 4-6 weeks.

Ken Roczen had earlier put together a solid run under the worse conditions seen this season to finish fourth in the East Coast Lites round. He also did well in the heat despite a crash in the opening lap to finish fourth and easily transfer to the main event. He rounded the first corner of the main in fifth and immediately began to pressure Alex Martin. By the second lap he had moved around Martin and began working on Blake Wharton. Another strong lap saw him triple past Wharton to move into podium position. He remained in third until near the end of the race when he made a small mistake cost him the podium. Many riders failed to finish because of the muddy conditions.

Ken Roczen: “Tonight was the hardest race I have ridden. Everything was wet and slippery. It was so hard to hold on to the grips. It was even hard to not slip off my seat. It was definitely a challenge and I am happy to finish safely.”