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Motorsports: Ryan Villopoto wraps up national motocross championship
This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2013, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

Tooele • Ryan Villopoto cruised across the finish line on Saturday at Miller Motorsports Park, arms raised in triumph. He rode to the track barrier, high-fiving the hundreds of fans reaching over the wall.

The crowd wanted a piece of the champion.

In the first outdoor national motocross event in Utah since 1973, Villopoto won both 450-class races on Saturday at the Built Ford Tough Utah National to clinch his second Lucas Oil AMA Pro Motocross Championship, adding the title to a growing list of accomplishments.

The 25-year-old was the 2011 450-class motocross champion, is a three-time 250-class motocross champion and is the three-time defending Monster Energy AMA Pro Supercross Series Champion.

The eight AMA championships tie him for second all-time with Jeremy McGrath, trailing only the 15 of Ricky Charmichael.

"I don't think you ever sit down and think, 'OK, well, this is what Jeremy has, this is what Ricky has' and so on. You just take it year by year and race by race," Villopoto said. "I never started this sport to look at [McGrath] or Ricky or anybody else and say I'm going to beat their records."

Whether he wanted to beat records or not, Villopoto is on his way to doing so and has established himself as the best rider currently competing. He'll have surgery on his foot after the last round of racing next week to get ready for the start of supercross in January, but said he has just two more years of racing left before he retires.

"I think it is gnarly being at this level, I think that's one of the reasons why Ricky retired when he did, and why I think our careers are shorter when you're at the top for so long," Villopoto said. "The thing that keeps the top guys going is winning — that is the fun part. But during the week is tough."

The only rider with a chance to catch Villopoto in the points coming into this week was defending champion Ryan Dungey of Red Bull KTM. Dungey said earlier this week "it would be dumb" to surrender the championship to Villopoto, but he needed to win both races and have misfortune befall Villopoto in order to have a chance.

But Villopoto didn't even leave the door cracked. He raced out to a big lead on Dungey in the second 450-class race and only stretched that lead as the race wore on. At the finish of nearly every lap the champion put more time between Dungey and himself.

A champion was also crowned in the 250 class as GEICO Honda rider Eli Tomac won both races. In the second race, Blake Baggett edged Ken Roczen for second place to clinch the title for Tomac. Had Roczen taken second place, the championship would have been decided next week in Lake Elsinore, Calif. But Roczen couldn't hold off Baggett, and Tomac rode off as the champion. —

Leaders

Utah Nationals

Lucas Oil AMA Pro Motocross Championship at Miller Motorsports Park

450-Class Race 1

1. Ryan Villopto, Monster Energy Kawasaki

2. Ryan Dungey, Red Bull KTM

3. Trey Canard, Team Muscle Milk Honda

450-Class Race 2

1. Ryan Villopto, Monster Energy Kawasaki

2. Ryan Dungey, Red Bull KTM

3. Trey Canard, Team Muscle Milk Honda

250-Class Race 1

1. Eli Tomac, GEICO Honda

2. Blake Baggett, Monster Energy Pro Circuit Kawasaki

3. Adam Cianciarulo, Monster Energy Pro Circuit Kawasaki

250-Class Race 2

1. Eli Tomac, GEICO Honda

2. Blake Baggett, Monster Energy Pro Circuit Kawasaki

3. Ken Roczen, Red Bull KTM

Motorcross • He wins 2 races in Tooele to capture second straight championship.
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