James Stewart came out on top of an amazing battle with series points leader Chad Reed to claim his 10th victory of the year at round 14 of the Monster Energy AMA Supercross Series at Jacksonville Municipal Stadium, in Jacksonville, Florida, tonight.
For the first 15 laps of the 20-lap main event, however, it was Reed who held the lead position, taking the point on the opening lap after passing his Rockstar/Makita Suzuki teammate Mike Alessi in turn three. Stewart also passed Alessi on the first lap and kept his San Manuel Yamaha a few bike lengths behind Reed for the first half-dozen laps before moving into striking distance on lap 10.
For the next five laps, Reed and Stewart played a cat and mouse game, with Stewart briefly taking the lead on lap 13, but then he gave it back a few turns later when the two riders touched wheels. The two bumped bars several times over the next two laps and even touched over one of the jumps before Stewart finally took the lead for good on lap 15.
Stewart would eventually pull to a 3.6-second margin over Reed by the time he reached the finish line, but Reed and Stewart weren’t done when the checkered flag flew, as the two had words while they returned to the podium - presumably about some of the tactics that both riders resorted to during the race, including a couple of brake-checks by each.
“Chad was riding really good tonight and we were going back and forth,” said Stewart. “We got pretty close on that triple and I landed and went to the inside and I didn’t know he was there and we tangled. In the middle part of the race he was riding tough and I was just trying to hold onto his coat tails. He started making a few mistakes and I was able to capitalize, but he made me work for it.”
“It was good to get the holeshot and get out front and lead a few laps,” said Reed.
“There were a couple of 90-degree turns and I felt like I had to protect my inside,” Reed added, when pressed about the close-quarters racing with Stewart. “We’re here to race and I want to race. We get a salary to do our job and I just went out there and raced him. He tried to play a little game and I just tried to be smart. When he got into the lead it seemed like he was slowing the race down a little bit and stopping – protecting his inside, I guess. So I just tried to not put myself in a vunerable position, but I learned a lot about how he wants to play the game... and two can play the game.”
Stewart’s win narrowed his deficit to just five points behind Reed in the series standings with three races to go.
Third place went to GEICO Powersports Honda’s Kevin Windham, who turned in one of his best performances of the year. Windham capitalized on a good start and finished the first lap in fourth position, but then moved into third on lap two when Alessi went down. From there, Windham ran pretty much ran solo in third for the rest of the race.
Team Yamaha’s Josh Hill came from way back to finish fourth, moving from 12th at the start to do so. Meanwhile, Red Bull Honda’s Andrew Short was fifth despite racing with a torn triceps muscle.
Alessi rebounded to finish sixth.
In the Lites division, Christophe Pourcel finished out the East Regional schedule with his fifth win of the series. The Monster Energy Kawasaki rider had to chase down Muscle Milk/MDK/KTM’s Wil Hahn to do so, however.
Hahn took strong early lead in the 15-lap final and at one point held nearly a full straight-away cushion, but the smooth riding Pourcel eventually closed in and took the lead on lap eight.
Pourcel pulled away to an easy win while Hahn held on to claim his best finish ever in second.
Pourcel’s teammate, Austin Stroupe, overcame a poor start to finish third, working from 11th on the opening lap to third at the finish, taking advantage of a crash by Rockstar/Makita Suzuki’s Nico Izzi on the final lap to do so. Izzi was later taken to the hospital to have the heel of his right foot checked out.
“I had a great race tonight,” said Pourcel. “This is a great way to end my championship season. I didn’t get the start I wanted but I was able to work my way to the front of the pack.”
AMA Supercross Results: 1. James Stewart (Yam); 2. Chad Reed (Suz); 3. Kevin Windham (Hon); 4. Josh Hill (Yam); 5. Andrew Short (Hon); 6. Mike Alessi (Suz); 7. Tommy Hahn (Kaw); 8. Kyle Chisholm (Yam); 9. Heath Voss (Hon); 10. Billy Laninovich (Kaw).
Eastern Regional AMA Supercross Lites Class Results: 1. Christophe Pourcel (Kaw); 2. Wil Hahn (KTM); 3. Austin Stroupe (Kaw); 4. Darryn Durham (Yam); 5. Blake Wharton (Hon); 6. Broc Tickle (Yam); 7. Branden Jesseman (Kaw); 8. Matt Lemoine (Yam); 9. Matthew Goerke (Suz); 10. Steven Clarke (Suz).