XDL Championship Series - Round 3: Nashville Superspeedway

Championship Hunt Narrows, Level of Excitement Reaches New Heights

Nashville, TN - May 14 & 15

There comes a time in the evolution of a sport when you can step back and say: "This is it. People love this." It is the point when you know that there is true mainstream appeal. The XDL Championship Series had that moment in Nashville.

Know as the best track on the XDL circuit, Nashville Superspeedway gives the athletes a lot of room and a smooth surface to fully unfold their creativity and dazzle the crowd. And it seemed like athletes have come to grips with the new competition and judging formats, making the runs faster, smoother and more exciting. Whereas in 2008 and most of 2009 things had slowed down, and slow, technical tricks became the order of the day, 2010 has seen an evolution towards a new display of aggression and flow. Never has it been more fun for fans to watch XDL athletes compete as in 2010. XDL has found its "back flip," if you know what I mean.

This development first showed itself on the final day of XDL competition of the 2009 season during the Speed & Strength Sickest Trick, when a never before seen set of acrobatic, technical and circus act tricks were uncorked to the delight of the fans. The entertainment value of an XDL competition took a huge step forward that day. In 2010 the competition format for FMF Cup changed from one three-minute run to three two-minute runs. And with it came an emphasis on "flow" in the judging. The goal was to make the main event more exciting and fun to watch for fans, and to be more in line with the traditional action sport format. This change was and continues to be the subject of debate amongst athletes but in Nashville it showed that it achieved the desired effect. The final two runs of FMF Cup featured Shin Kinoshita from Japan and reigning champion and factory Yamaha rider Bill Dixon exhibiting two completely different styles that were both equally exciting because they combined speed, fluidity, innovation, athleticism and aggression into a cohesive two-minute package. Both runs left the audience awestruck. Dixon took the win in FMF Cup and Kinoshita was a close second for his best-ever XDL finish in 3 years. Kinoshita said that he started feeling confident after the first practice sessions when he realized he was on a good bike: "This was the first time I had a good bike to ride in a long time and I built more and more confidence as the event went on. If I could bring my Japan bike to the US and leave it here, who knows, I might be contending for the win consistently." Nick Brocha and Luke Emmons finished third and fourth respectively, keeping their title hopes alive. Ernie Vigil, who has been injury prone the last three seasons, rounded out the podium and also took second in the K&N; Circle Challenge, recording his strongest weekend at XDL in over a year. Chris McNeil, another title contender who had made a strong impression in Havasu, suffered a practice crash that put him out for the weekend and possibly the season. Said McNeil of his crash: "

The Aprilia All Star Challenge was decided in the rain, and once again, rain specialist Eric Pettit took the win, turning this competition into a heated three-way battle between himself, Bill Dixon and Dan Jackson. The Sartso Women's Cup saw its largest competitor field to date and was also contested in the rain. Alie DeFresco from New Jersey took the win and qualified herself for the Finals in Indy. In fact rain was a constant theme throughout the weekend. The entire city of Nashville had flooded only two weeks prior to XDL and rain hit again on both Friday and Saturday, with several hail, storm and flash flood warnings issued. In fact at one point on Saturday a "safe haven" plan was announced over the PA to let the fans in attendance know where to seek shelter in case of the sudden onset of storm winds or hail.

The K&N; Circle Challenge was again a close fought contest that saw long-time favorites Aaron Twite and Ernie Vigil make it into the finals. Among the K&N; Circle Challenge specialists that took an early exit were Lin Eshalom and Shin Kinoshita

As always, the Speed & Strength Sickest Trick competition ended the weekend and it was once again a showcase for the rapid progression of tricks in the sport. And once again, Bill Dixon stole the show with a big, fast trick. He performed a switchback stoppie, but started it 400 feet outside the competition area so that by the time he was passing under the Red Bull arch he was already at about 70mph. Going backwards. With no forward visibility. Hoping he would survive. The art with which Bill executed the trick really let the audience feel the danger involved and made everyone tense. It was everything a "sick" trick had to be. Dixon admitted afterwards that it was the most scared he had been in two or three months. He said he messed up the stoppie on his first attempt because he couldn't concentrate because his heart was beating so quickly. He had the opposite effect on people in the audience, making everyone's heart stop. It was "sick".

XDL Nashville was an event that brought the creative genius and daring of XDL athletes to the forefront, despite all the bad weather. Now it is on to Los Angeles where in 4 weeks the riders will contest Round 4 of the XDL Championship Series on June 18 & 19 at Toyota Speedway at Irwindale in Irwindale, CA.

XDL can be followed on www.xdlshow.com.

FMF Cup Final
1st - Bill Dixon 153.5
2nd - Shinsuke Kinoshita 148.5
3rd - Nick Brocha 134.0
4th - Luke Emmons 127.5
5th - Ernie Vigil 123.5

Aprilia All Star Challenge
1st - Eric Pettit 26.37
2nd - Dan Jackson 27.84
3rd - Bill Dixon 28.31

K&N; Circle Challenge
1st - Aaron Twite
2nd - Ernie Vigil
3rd - Andrew Griffy

Speed & Strength Sickest Trick
1st - Bill Dixon - 2nd Gear Switchback Stoppie
2nd - Joe Dryden - Stoppie into a Bottle
3rd - Aaron Twite - Kangaroo Stoppie

Sartso Women's Cup
1st - Alie DeFresco 63
2nd - Leah Peterson 59
3rd - Brandy Delosier 50
4th - Britney Shaara 39

Freestyle Burnout
1st - Joe Dryden
2nd - Luke Emmons
3rd - Randy Callicoat

Team Battle
1st - Death Squad - (Brocha, Vigil, Kinoshita, Eshalom) - 25
2nd - Curb Stompers (Bubash, Colton, Jackson, Suchaneck, Matthews) - 22
3rd - Ninjets (DeFresco, Peterson) - 16