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Ryan Villopoto and supercross return to Dodger Stadium

Supercross rider Ryan Villopoto, leading in this season's standings, returns to Dodger Stadium, where he won last year.

January 20, 2012|By Jim Peltz
  • Workers prepare Dodger Stadium for a supercross track.
Workers prepare Dodger Stadium for a supercross track. (Bryan Chan / Los Angeles…)

Supercross returns to Dodger Stadium on Saturday night with reigning champion Ryan Villopoto hoping to repeat his win in the series' inaugural race at Chavez Ravine a year ago.

This will be the third race on this year's 17-race schedule for the Monster Energy AMA Supercross Series. Villopoto, 23, won the season opener on his Kawasaki at Angel Stadium on Jan. 7, and Ryan Dungey, 22, won a week ago at Chase Field in Phoenix.

Supercross is the stadium version of motocross, or off-road motorcycle racing. About 500 truckloads of dirt, equal to 1.5 million tons, are spread over a layer of plastic across the Dodger Stadium field to create the track and its series of curves and jumps.

Dodger Stadium has been used for many nonbaseball events since it opened in 1962, including concerts, but last year was the first time it had been transformed to host supercross. The inaugural race drew about 41,000 people.

The night's slate of racing includes warm-up heats and then the 20-lap main event. There also are races in the sport's second-tier "supercross lites" series.

Villopoto and Dungey are tied for the supercross series' lead with 45 points, followed by Honda rider Chad Reed, a two-time champion, with 38.

James Stewart, another two-time champion who this year moved to the Yamaha supercross team of Joe Gibbs Racing, is off to a slow start and is seventh in the title standings with 28 points.

With an eighth-place finish in Phoenix, Stewart can ill afford another mediocre showing at Dodger Stadium if he wants to keep pace with Villopoto and Dungey for this year's title.

Dungey, too, switched teams this year — moving to Red Bull KTM, with KTM motorcycles — and he delivered the team its first career victory with his win in Phoenix.

"This was a big step in the right direction," Dungey said. "We've come a long way since the off-season, but there's still a lot of racing to go."

After Dodger Stadium, the series races in Oakland next weekend, makes one more stop at Angel Stadium on Feb. 4 and then moves to San Diego on Feb. 11. The series finale is May 5 in Las Vegas.

james.peltz@latimes.com

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