Kevin Windham was the big winner at the inaugural Jeremy McGrath Invitational tonight at the Home Depot Center in Carson, California, though there is still another night of racing that will ultimately decide the overall JMI winner. Still, Windham left the stadium $60,000 richer for winning both the bracket portion of the racing (worth $30,000 to the winner) and the 16-lap main event (also worth $30,000 to the winner) that was made up of all of the 20 invited riders. If Windham can win both features tomorrow night, he will earn another $60,000 plus a $5000 bonus for being the overall winner in the two 16-lap main events. He could pocket a total $125,000.
Windham easily won the main event. The SoBe/Samsung Mobile/Honda rider got around fellow Honda pilot Eric Sorby on the first lap and ran off with the win. Sorby faded back to ninth, while Windham’s teammate Josh Grant, riding one of only two 250Fs in the evening’s program, settled into second place on the first lap and followed Windham’s 450 around the track, which featured two metal, freestyle-type ramps, about five seconds back. The last couple of laps, Grant closed to within about two seconds, though Windham appeared to cool his pace with the finish line in sight.
Third place went to another Honda rider, MDK’s Nick Wey. Wey had control of third place by the end of the second lap was never more than about three seconds behind Grant the whole way.
Fourth place went to Wey’s teammate David Vuillemin, while privateer Honda rider Heath Voss rounded out the top five. (The first seven riders were all Honda mounted.)
The bracket racing, which featured 16 riders in a single elimination format (two lap races), was by far the most entertaining of the night. Some of the better match ups of the night included Windham versus Voss, and Josh Hansen versus Travis Pastrana. Windham and Voss went at it the first lap before Windham took control on the second lap and won, while Pastrana executed a backflip over one of the jump while leading Hansen on the first lap. The move, however, cost Pastrana the lead and ultimately the win, putting him out for the night. (Pastrana elected to compete in just the bracket racing, not wanting to risk re-injuring his tender knee in the main event.
The final showdown came down to teammates Windham and Grant. Windham used the power of his 450 to grab the holeshot over Grant’s 250 and went on to win by a few bikelengths.
Jeremy McGrath’s night did not go well. In the timed qualifying portion early in the program, the former Supercross Champion fell and injured his shoulder. He sat out the rest of the night, and his participation in tomorrow’s race is still up in the air.
As a whole, the first night of the Jeremy McGrath Invitational went well, but the crowd attendance was sparse and the unusual racing format was, to say the least, confusing for many, some of which had to do with a few last-minute changes to the racing system.
Tomorrow’s race will again begin at 7 p.m.