When the AMA Supercross finale begins Saturday night at Sam Boyd Stadium before another capacity crowd of nearly 40,000, rookie Ryan Dungey will stand atop the series championship podium.
Three weeks ago, the 20-year-old Dungey became the youngest racer to win the prestigious No. 1 plate, clinching the title at Seattle, the 14th of 17 stops on the Supercross circuit.
This is a young man's game. Always has been.
Jeremy McGrath was considered a graybeard when, at 29, he won the last of his seven championships in 2000. Five-time champ Ricky Carmichael was 26 in 2006 when he won his last crown.
When the racers hit the dirt Saturday, Kevin Windham will be going for his third straight event victory, but he's considered the dinosaur of the field. And he's only 32.
Longevity is as rare as pavement at a Supercross race. Riders like McGrath, Carmichael and former champs Jeff Ward and Rick Johnson left the sport before they reached 30 and now race trucks professionally.
Four-wheel racing provides a competitive outlet and is considerably safer.
"With age, comes the cage," said 34-year-old Damon Huffman, a former Supercross winner who now makes a living racing a Monster Truck.
The "cage" is a roll-cage that certainly has extended the lives of many racers, but tubular cocoons just don't fit on bikes.
Supercross and motocross are among the most physically demanding and dangerous forms of racing. Australian motocross rider Andrew McFarlane, 32, died May 2 from injuries suffered in a crash at Melbourne, Australia. Former Supercross rider Jeremy Lusk was 24 when he died in a freestyle-event crash early last year in Costa Rica.
Injuries to three of the top Supercross riders this year weren't life threatening but kept them from contesting for the championship in a high-speed, high-flying version of "Survivor."
James Stewart, 24, and Chad Reed, 28, who each won two championships over the past four years, haven't raced since injuries suffered in a mid-January race. Reed, however, is expected to race Saturday; word is Stewart will return this month for the AMA Outdoor national motocross season.
Add Ryan Villopoto, 21, to the injured list. He won a series-best seven events before crashing out of the April 17 race in St. Louis. He broke his right leg.
That leaves Dungey, of Belle Plaine, Minn., the last man standing.
But you can't blame Dungey or tag him with an asterisk because his top challengers got hurt.
The first building block toward winning is finishing. In motocross, staying upright and healthy is just as important, if not more, than turning the fastest lap.
Dungey did that. Dungey was the ultimate survivor.
Jeff Wolf's motor sports column is published Friday in the Las Vegas Review-Journal. He can be reached at email@example.com or 702-383-0247. Visit Wolf's motor sports blog at lvrj.com/blogs/heavypedal/ throughout the week.