Ryan Villopoto won his first Monster Energy AMA Supercross championship Saturday night, finishing third in the season finale at Sam Boyd Stadium.
Villopoto, the Kawasaki star from Poulsbo, Wash., who won a series-high six races this season, edged race winner Chad Reed by four points in the 17-race championship.
"I just have to thank everyone at Kawasaki," Villopoto said. "The team believed in me through thick and thin. We'll enjoy this. It was a hard-fought battle."
Villopoto had a horrific crash in St. Louis last season, flying over the handlebars at the bottom of a jump as his bike flipped. The wreck left him with two broken bones and wiped out the rest of his season.
Reed, the Honda rider from Tampa, Fla., raced to his second victory of the season, holding off Suzuki's Ryan Dungey by 1.351 seconds. Villopoto finished 35.302 seconds behind Reed.
"We gave it all we had," Reed said. "I feel totally blessed this season. Congrats to Ryan. He earned [the championship]. He had the most wins this season, and to come back form what he went through last year, he has my respect. We did all we can, and sometimes, you come up short."
In the Eastern Regional Supercross Lites Championship, Honda's Justin Barcia, from Ochlocknee, Ga., won his first career title with a third-place finish. Kawasaki's Blake Baggett won the race.
"I'm lost for words right now," Barcia said. "It hasn't set in yet that I've won the championship. It's been an awesome season. The racing has been crazy all year, and I've had a lot of fun. I have an awesome team behind me that has given me 100 percent support every race. This is a moment I will remember forever."
In the Western Regional Supercross Lites Championship, Kawasaki's Broc Tickle, from Holly, Mich., also secured his first title, finishing second behind KTM's Ken Roczen.
"It really is a dream come true," Tickle said. "I still don't think it's real. I know it happened, but I still can't believe it. The past few weeks have been pretty bad for me. I've struggled in practice and in the races. I am so happy right now and hope I don't wake up from this dream."
Sipes then won the Dave Coombs Sr. East/West Shootout.