Ryan Villopoto wins his first AMA Supercross title
The 22-year-old Kawasaki rider finished third in the season finale of the Monster Energy AMA Supercross Series in Las Vegas on Saturday night, good enough to secure the title by four points over two-time champion Chad Reed, who won the race.
Supercross is the stadium version of off-road motorcycle racing, or motocross.
Ryan Dungey, who won the championship as a rookie in 2010 after Reed and James Stewart (also a two-time winner) were sidelined with injuries, finished third in the standings this season, 10 points behind Villopoto. Stewart finished fourth in the title hunt, 37 points back.
"Congrats to Ryan [Villopoto]," Reed said after the race. "He had the most wins this season, and to come back from what he went through last year, he has my respect."
Villopoto is a Poulsbo, Wash., rider who was in title contention last year, having won seven times in 11 races. But at the race in St. Louis, Villopoto broke his right leg in a crash and was done for the season.
He rebounded with six wins this year, including the inaugural AMA Supercross race held at Dodger Stadium in January.
The series said it would return to Dodger Stadium next season, on Jan. 21, as part of a 17-race schedule in 2012. As usual, the season will open at Angel Stadium in Anaheim, on Jan. 7, and it also will include a second stop at Angel Stadium on Feb. 4.
-- Jim Peltz
Photo: Ryan Villopoto crosses the finish line at Dodger Stadium on Jan. 22, one of six victories he earned to win the Monster Energy AMA Supercross Series title. Credit: Jae C. Hong / Associated Press