Justin Barcia said this "hasn’t been an easy season," but he seems to have his own definition of what constitutes a difficult year.
Most riders would take six victories in nine events and reaching the podium – a top-three finish – all but once and consider it a spectacular season.
The missed podium, by the way, was Barcia’s first in two years.
The 20-year-old from Cairo, Ga., has, in fact, experienced a couple of spectacular seasons in Monster Energy AMA Supercross Lites, winning the Eastern Regional title for the second year in a row.
Barcia competed against Western Regional winner Eli Tomac on Saturday at Sam Boyd Stadium in the series’ final stop in a battle of the coasts. Barcia won the East-West Shootout, beating out runner-up Tomac. It was a good ending for Barcia, who earlier won the East race.
Now that he’s accomplished about all he can in Lites, Barcia makes the move up to the majors next season to compete in the premier Supercross class.
Barcia will compete with the likes of two-time defending champion Ryan Villopoto, two-time champ Chad Reed and past winners such as Ryan Dungey and James Stewart.
He also will have to adjust to a heavier engine, going from a 250cc to a 450cc.
"That’s always been a dream of mine to race with the top guys," Barcia said. "I got to get my feet wet a little bit in outdoors last year. It’s a different breed of guys. It’s a new learning curve for me."
In the summer outdoor season, Barcia entered six premier events, winning once and finishing second once and third three times. So maybe it won’t be much of an adjustment. If a motorcycle is involved, Barcia probably won’t have much trouble.
He entered his first competition at age 5 and won 10 amateur titles between 2005 and 2007.
Barcia began this season with four consecutive victories. He didn’t match that success the second half of the season and wasn’t thrilled with a couple of mishaps, including an unusual single-file restart that puzzled him.
Then at New Orleans on April 14, Barcia failed to make the podium for the first time since 2010.
Other riders probably don’t feel sorry for him, and Barcia acknowledged he wasn’t even disappointed at his fourth-place finish.
That finish got him the repeat division championship.
"That was the biggest thing for me; I wanted to wrap that thing up before Vegas," Barcia said. "It’s not fun coming to Vegas and not having the championship wrapped up. There’s no stress this weekend. We’re able to ride and go hard and just have fun."
Contact reporter Mark Anderson at email@example.com or 702-387-2914. Follow him on Twitter: @markanderson65.Dungey wins main event; Millsaps stays in second
Ryan Dungey dominated the Monster Energy AMA Supercross main event Saturday, beating runner-up Davi Millsaps by eight seconds before 39,506 at Sam Boyd Stadium.
Dungey moved up from fourth to third in the final standings. Millsaps remained second, and Justin Brayton was fourth behind champion Ryan Villopoto.
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