Rookie Ryan Dungey has emerged out of nowhere to lead the AMA Supercross standings after two races. He won the race at Chase Field in Phoenix on Saturday night and was the runner-up at Angel Stadium in Anaheim to open the season.
James Stewart, the reigning AMA Supercross champion, and Chad Reed, a two-time AMA Supercross champion, were expected to be the top two riders in the series in 2010. Stewart chased down Dungey to win the season opener in Anaheim two weeks ago, but struggled in Phoenix. Stewart crashed twice, once in his heat race and again in the main event, and coupled his win in Anaheim with a 15th-place finish in Phoenix to drop to seventh place in the Supercross standings.
Reed’s start to the AMA Supercross was even worse. He did not finish the Anaheim race, bowing out after two laps after he collided with another rider and broke the spokes on one of his wheels. He crashed with Stewart at Phoenix and broke his left hand. He is expected to miss the next six weeks recovering from the injuries he suffered in the Phoenix race.
Even Dungey expected Stewart and Reed to battle it out for the Supercross championship this year and continue their rivalry from 2009.
“They both had a rivalry all year long,” Dungey said on a conference call. “You kind of knew what to expect coming into this year. I don’t know. Last year I was in the Lites class, making this jump to the 450; it’s a big step. I don’t think it’s really known for somebody to come out and really start giving them a run.”
Dungey impressed in the first Anaheim race. He led for 17 laps before Stewart finally overtook him. Dungey battled back on the last lap, pulling even with Stewart, but could not pass him and finished in second place.
“Going into the season, I knew where I wanted to be and I wanted to be up there winning and battling with them guys,” Dungey said. “Thankfully Anaheim went good, led some laps in front of James. James got me of course at the end. It’s good to be up there battling with them. It’s good to be up there in the mix and that’s where I would want to be.”
Even though he didn’t win the first Anaheim race, Dungey said he learned a lot by leading the race and battling with Stewart at the end.
“At first, I’m proving to myself to know that I can lead some laps,” Dungey said. “There’s a lot of pressure. James, he is the top guy in the class at the moment. To be up there and running those laps, I really kind of run my own race, because at the end of the day, I gotta run my laps. There’s no sense in doing something over my head or doing something different because James is there. I just try to run my own race. It does help. To win races is the plan, but going forward, it definitely proved a lot to myself.”