James Stewart appeared to be well on his way to a ninth win of the 2009 Monster Energy AMA Supercross Series tonight in the Edward Jones Dome in St. Louis, Missouri, until a spectacular crash on the 15th lap of the 20-lap final ended the San Manuel Yamaha rider’s bid to do so, along with his chance to close the gap in the series standings on points leader Chad Reed.
At the time of his crash, Stewart was leading the Rockstar Makita Suzuki-backed Reed by several seconds, after taking the lead from him on the fourth lap of the race. However, Stewart’s bike went into neutral just before a big step-up jump, causing Stewart to endo into the face of the following jump. Reed quickly took advantage of Stewart’s misfortune, taking the lead and holding it to the finish to claim his third win of the series.
Over 55,800 fans witnessed the race which featured a very technical track that was designed by Travis Pastrana. Pastrana also raced tonight but failed make it out of the Last Chance Qualifier.
Rounding out the podium was JGRMX/Toyota Yamaha’s Josh Grant, who grabbed the holeshot at the start of the main and led the two opening laps before Reed took the lead on lap three.
Interestingly enough, Stewart’s crash in the main event was not his first of the evening, although he claimed afterwards that he didn’t have problems adjusting to the track. The current outdoor champ crashed twice in his heat race but clawed his way back into ninth to take the final transfer position. Despite the crashes, Stewart was undoubtedly the fastest rider on the track, but it was the opportunistic Reed who swooped in to take the lead when Stewart faltered.
“Like I say every week, you got to be in it to win it and that’s what we’re doing,” said Reed. “I’m having a ball out here. The track was just awesome tonight. Travis (Pastrana) designed a great track and I just love this St. Louis dirt. James started hitting his lines early on and pulled away, but I just kept my head down.”
With only five rounds remaining, Stewart trails Reed by 11 points and needs to get back on the winning track if he is going to have any chance at this year’s title.
“I just hit neutral,” explained Stewart. “I made a mistake in the whoops. Sometimes that’s the way it goes you know. I had a rough night with the heat race and stuff. I’m trying my hardest and that’s the best I can do. I just keep training so I can give it my best each week. I’ll never stop and I’ll fight until the end.”
Finishing fourth was Red Bull Honda’s Andrew Short, who spent most of the race fending off challenges by AMPM Boost Mobil Yamaha’s Jason Lawrence, who ended the night in fifth.
In the Lites division, GEICO Powersports Honda’s Blake Wharton grabbed the holeshot and took a flag-to-flag win ahead of Monster Energy/Pro Circuit Kawasaki’s Austin Stroupe and Rockstar/Makita Suzuki’s Nico Izzi.
Izzi ran in second position for most of race, pushing Wharton during the early laps, but Stroupe slipped by Izzi on the final lap to secure second, leaving Izzi with the final podium spot.
“I’m excited,” said Wharton, who turned pro last August. “I got the holeshot and just rode my own race. Getting the podium last week gave me the confidence I needed to ride up front. I just want to thank everyone that’s supported me this season and in my career.”
Points leader, Monster Energy/Pro Circuit Kawasaki’s Christophe Pourcel, suffered a bad start that placed him in second to last place on the first lap. However, he worked his way through the field to finish an impressive fifth place finish and maintain his advantage over teammate Stroupe in the series standings.
AMA Supercross Class
1. Chad Reed (Suz); 2. James Stewart (Yam); 3. Josh Grant (Yam); 4. Andrew Short (Hon); 5. Jason Lawrence (Yam); 6. Ivan Tedesco (Hon); 7. Mike Alessi (Suz); 8. Davi Millsaps (Hon); 9. Kevin Windham (Hon); 10. Paul Carpenter (Kaw).
Eastern Regional AMA Supercross Lites Class
1. Blake Wharton (Hon); 2. Austin Stroupe (Kaw); 3. Nico Izzi (Suz); 4. Matthew Goerke (Suz); 5. Christophe Pourcel (Kaw); 6. Matt Lemoine (Yam); 7. Steven Clarke (Suz); 8. Daniel Blair (Hon); 9. Darryn Durham (Yam); 10. Shane Sewell (Yam).