The 2011 Supercross champion led from start to finish in front of 48,962 at Reliant Stadium to capture the race win and make history by clinching the 2012 Monster Energy AMA Supercross championship with four races still to go in the season.
Villopoto takes the record from Jeremy McGrath, who won 14 races in 1996, but didn’t clinch the title until there were three races left in the season.
“This is huge,” said Villopoto, who also won the Houston race in 2010. “You don’t stand up here for nothing. There is a lot of hard work that goes into this and I am just a little piece of the pie from the Monster Energy Kawasaki team. This is unreal, to make it two in a row is pretty amazing.”
The only thing that could keep Villopoto from capturing the title if he won was a third place finish or better bytwo-time series champion and four-time Houston winner James Stewart.
But Stewart, who won at Reliant in 2005, 2006, 2007 and 2009, was caught back in the pack early on and then a wreck on lap six ended his feature to give Villopoto his second straight SX crown.
It is Villopoto’s 23rd series win and the fifth in history to win two SX titles.
“I am just gonna keep racing,” Villopoto said. “It is a lot of fun. My goal isn’t to break records. If I break them, then great, but my goal right now is to win championships. When I decide to walk away, I will have a nice office full of trophies.”
Villopoto opened the night with a run-away victory in his heat race.
“We weren’t the greatest out of the gate, but I was able to recover a little bit,” Villopoto said. “I got the lead there right away, and just tried to ride some smooth laps.”
The fastest qualifier on the day was Kevin Windham, but he did not make it into the feature after a bad wreck during his heat race.
Windham, who injured his thumb and shoulder, battled with eventual heat winner Stewart. The two battled for seven laps before Windham took a hard fall on a jump just before the checkered flag.
“This is the first time me and Kevin really got to race, but it is unfortunate to see him go out like that. That’s a bummer,” Stewart said after his heat race. “The guy is a fan favorite and we had a good race. It is still great to get a win, but I feel bad for him.”
In the Supercross East Lites feature race, Justin Barcia had a commanding lead before a late wreck ruined a chance for his sixth win in seven races.
“I don’t even really know what to say right now,” Barcia said. “I am just so bummed out. There was just nothing I could do. I was checking out, riding a great race and a lapper got crazy and nailed me. There was nothing I could do.”
When Barcia went down, Ken Roczen passed him just two turns from the checkered flag to capture the first win of the season and second of his Lites career.
“This is so awesome,” said Roczen, a 17-year old German phenom. “But, I have to say this is not how you want to win the race. Justin has been putting on some good speed. I rode a race with barely any mistakes. Just super happy to be on top of the box.”
Barcia finished second, and increases his points lead to 32 over Blake Wharton, who finished fourth on the night.
words: Russ Goodall