Welcome to our weekly web-exclusive column, Transmoto USA Insider Presented By Lucas Oil. Penned each week by our man on the ground, Transmoto's US Correspondent, Jason Weigandt, USA Insider presents the story-behind-the-stories of the AMA supercross and motocross scene.
There's just one battle left in the Lucas Oil Pro Motocross here in the States — it's for the 250 Championship. The 450 Class is over and done, as it would take an earthquake, tornado or flood to stop Ryan Dungey. Nature maybe has the power to end his run, but no rider on the circuit does.
After all, James Stewart is out, again, announcing two days before last weekend's race at Spring Creek that his hand had not healed up enough for him to race safely. After this weekend's race at Washougal, the riders get two weeks off, so Stew plans to return then (at Southwick, a sand track). James said 2012 was really about learning his Suzuki for 2013, and now that appears to be true, as his title hopes are long gone. But maybe he can make a run for the U.S. Motocross of Nations effort?
Meanwhile Ryan Villopoto is close to being back on a bike, too, although I doubt you'll see him racing soon. However, rumor has it that Villopoto, if he was ready and willing, could still have a place on the U.S. Motocross of Nations team, but he'd have to make his decision quickly so bikes could be prepared, and he's not likely to make a quick decision since he's not riding yet.
I've also heard 250 contender Justin Barcia could get a U.S. Motocross of Nations look on a 450, since Barcia is known for his sand skills, and he also rode a 450 well a few times last year. The remaining top U.S. 450 riders are Mike Alessi and Jake Weimer. Neither exactly strike fear into the hearts of the competition the way Stewart or Villopoto would (or perhaps even Barcia, who would be carrying a ton of hype into the race). Alessi is second in 450 points, but he rides for a privateer team in MotoConcepts, so they'd be facing a steep learning curve to be ready for such a different style of race. Plus, it's well known that Roger DeCoster and Mitch Payton have a big hand in the U.S. MXoN effort, and while they might not exactly have friction with Mike, I don't think they're battling for it out to be his #1 fan, either. Weimer, at least, has raced the event before (in 2010) and his Monster Energy Kawasaki team knows the drill. Of course, a healthy Stewart changes everything, but time is running out!