Villopoto has outscored Millsaps, who led the championship for the first nine races of the season, by a 48-point margin over his impressive seven-race stretch, which now puts him into a comfortable position in the standings heading into the final month of competition. Villopoto has the opportunity to equal his career-best season win total of nine on Saturday night in Minneapolis.
Villopoto’s most formidable challenger over the last seven races, and again in Houston, was Red Bull KTM’s Ryan Dungey. The former champion still sits third in the championship standings, but has moved to within four points of Millsaps for second. His runner-up effort in Houston extended his current podium streak to four races, giving him a total of nine podium finishes this season. Dungey now sits 25 points behind Villopoto heading into what is arguably his most anticipated race of the season.
A native of Belle Plaine, Minn., Dungey grew up mere minutes outside of Minneapolis. The Monster Energy Supercross race inside the Metrodome was attended regularly by the Dungey family and it also served as the sight of a breakout performance for the KTM rider who stole a surprise runner-up finish during the 2008 race during a guest appearance in the 450SX Class. This marks the championship’s first visit to the state since that memorable night for Dungey.
Since winning his second race of the season at the sixth stop of the championship, Millsaps has experienced the ups and downs that comes with racing for a title. Through the first eight races of the season Millsaps averaged a second-place finish.
Since then, he has finished on the podium once and his average finished has dropped to 5.4 over the past five races. In Houston, Millsaps had to overcome getting caught up in an incident on the opening lap of the race, eventually battling his way from ninth to fifth.
The trio of riders has separated themselves from the rest of the 450SX Class field in the standings and the championship will likely be won by one of them. While 25 points separate Villopoto, Millsaps, and Dungey, 50 points sit between Dungey and Team Honda Muscle Milk’s Justin Barcia in fourth.
The last time Monster Energy Supercross visited Minneapolis in 2008, Dodge/Sycuan/RCH Racing Suzuki’s Josh Hill broke through for his first career victory, fending off Dungey and his home crowd push.