Bubba Could Tie Record

Paul Carruthers | February 16, 2004

The following release is from AMA Pro Racing…

James Bubba” Stewart is only in his third year of professional racing, but already the 18-year-old Kawasaki ace is knocking on the door of tying a record set 12 years ago by the biggest legend in the history of AMA Supercross.

If Stewart wins the AMA 125 East Supercross race this Saturday, Feb. 21, in the Minneapolis Metrodome it would mark his 13th-career win in the class and would tie the AMA 125 Supercross wins record held by Jeremy McGrath. Stewart isn’t the only rider hoping to rewrite the record books in Minneapolis. In only his second year in the main 250 class Yamaha’s Chad Reed has already cracked the top-10 on the all-time AMA Supercross wins list. His victory last weekend in Houston not only expanded Reed’s series lead over Honda Kevin Windham, but it moved him past David Bailey and Ezra Lusk for 10th in career AMA Supercross wins, a very impressive feat considering Reed has done this in just a year-and-a-half of AMA Supercross racing.

Before moving on to become the all-time winningest rider in AMA Supercross history Jeremy McGrath spent three years in the 125 regional series. During the 1990 through 1992 seasons the Motorcycle Hall of Famer won two AMA 125 West Supercross titles and racked up an amazing 13 wins. Now, a dozen years later, Stewart is hoping to follow the path blazed by McGrath. He too is seeking his second 125 Supercross title this year, but with the added feature of trying to become only the second rider ever to win both the West and East series.

Stewart got off to a great start in last week’s kickoff of the East Series by dominating the Houston opener. The Floridian pulled away in Reliant Stadium to win by a commanding 21 seconds after taking over the lead on the third lap. Stewart’s convincing win was really no surprise. He’s already being called the next McGrath or Ricky Carmichael in the sport. His lap times in Houston were nearly two seconds per lap faster than his nearest 125 competitor. In fact, Stewart’s best race lap in Houston was better than all but the top four 250 riders.

Despite the fact that Stewart is already putting his stamp in AMA Supercross he’s still thinking about improving in the future. “Each race is just another step,” Stewart said. “One step to get me better and more experienced. I’m young now, so each time I get out there I learn something new, which is just fine for me.”

Stewart’s titanic performance in Houston overshadowed an excellent Supercross debut by Suzuki’s Broc Hepler. Hepler surprised a lot of people by finishing second to Stewart in his first AMA Supercross race. Pro Circuit Kawasaki’s Eric Sorby was third. This weekend will mark the debut of another rookie from Team Suzuki. Davi Millsaps, who just turned 16, is the most highly touted rookie to come into AMA Supercross since Stewart. Millsaps is last year’s AMA Horizon Award, winner signifying the leading amateur racer in the country. Many experts think Millsaps has the potential to make a mark in the sport in his first year, although going up against Stewart is a daunting task for even the most seasoned Supercross rider.

In the main AMA Supercross class Chad Reed took his fifth win in seven starts last weekend in Houston. The win expanded Reed’s lead to 26 points over rival Kevin Windham. Reed now has enough of a points cushion that he could miss a race and still hold the series lead. If Windham is to catch Reed this year he’ll need to mount a long winning streak just as Reed did in the second half of last season. Minneapolis marks the mid-way point for the 16-race series.

Veteran Mike LaRocco earned his third straight podium finish last weekend and moved into a tie with David Vuillemin for third in the series standings. LaRocco is still hoping to find a way to win a race this year. At Houston he pointed to the need for better starts.

This year also marks the 10th anniversary of AMA Supercross racing in Minneapolis. The series debuted at the Metrodome in 1994 and Jeremy McGrath took the inaugural victory in the dome. The race has traditionally been one of the best attended on the calendar.

Both the 250 and 125 finals will receive next-day coverage on ESPN2 starting at 12 p.m. Eastern. To get tickets for the race call (630) 566-6100 or visit www.tickets.com.

Paul Carruthers | Editor

Paul Carruthers took over as the editor of Cycle News in 1993 after serving as associate editor since starting his career at the publication in 1985. Carruthers has covered every facet of the sport in his near-28-year tenure at America’s Daily Motorcycle News Source.