SALT LAKE CITY — Supercross rider Ryan Villopoto joined an elite class Saturday night.
Disappointed in not winning in his hometown last weekend, Villopoto followed up a second-place Seattle finish with a race win in Salt Lake City that locked up his third 450 Supercross World Championship.
He’s only the fifth Supercross rider to earn the trifecta championship, and he's just the fourth to win them consecutively — Ricky Carmichael was the most recent.
“It’s amazing to make it three in a row,” said Villopoto. “It’s unbelievable. I can’t thank everybody enough. It’s kind of a big deal because we started out the season rough and had lots of stepping stones to climb up.”
Davi Millsaps and Ryan Dungey, who sat second and third in points behind Villopoto heading into Saturday, did all they could to try and catch the champ. With the fans rooting the three on as they battled, Villopoto muscled through and never gave up his early lead.
Millsaps and Dungey finished second and third.
The main event final was a great cap to a beautiful night of hard racing before a record Rice-Eccles Stadium Supercross crowd of 43,149.
In the 250 final, Jason Anderson took what he called “good Utah vibes” all the way to the podium. The 20-year-old bested his second-place finish from a year ago in Salt Lake to earn his first Supercross victory. The Utah fans remembered Anderson’s efforts from a season ago, rooting on the New Mexico native as he took off with the lead.
Anderson’s lead left little doubt and had everyone instead focused on Eli Tomac. Tomac had the door to the 250 West Coast Championship opened after points leader Ken Roczen missed advancing out of the Last Chance Qualifier by 15 feet. The favorite Roczen struggled through a huge wreck out of the LCQ hole shot that left him playing catch-up early. He used every effort, including a blazing trek through the final whoops, to try and grab that last spot but fell short.
Roczen’s miss left Tomac a chance to go ahead in the points with a win, but Tomac had struggles of his own across the course. Tomac finished sixth, keeping Roczen in the lead but cutting it down from 20 points to five heading into Las Vegas next weekend to close out the season.
Roczen wasn’t the only star to head to the Last Chance Qualifier, as former 450 champion Chad Reed had to leave his qualifying heat after his rear brake got a pebble caught in it and left him in a huge hole. Reed did advance out of the LCQ, but crashed early in the final — leaving him out of contention after getting up.
Neither winner on the night won their holeshot as Dungey took the 450 and Zach Osborne grabbed the 250.
The night also had a great start as recently retired star Kevin Windham put on a show for the fans who were already awarding one of their favorites with a standing ovation. Windham took off outside of the track and jumped from the outside lane, over the middle lane and onto the inside lane.
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