Stewart Wins U.S. Open Opener

Kit Palmer | October 13, 2006

James Stewart drew first at tonight’s opening round of the Rockstar Energy Drink U.S. Open at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas. And not only did the factory Kawasaki rider win the 25-lap main event, but he also won every possible dollar that he could along the way, winning the Toyota Trifecta: the Superpole, the $5000 Progressive Direct Holeshot Award, and the main event, which all totaled $50,000. If Stewart can make a repeat performance tomorrow night, he’ll take home $250,000.

In the main event, Stewart got out in front early, leaving behind the rest of the 12-rider field, including Makita Suzuki’s Ricky Carmichael, who slid out in the first turn and fell. The defending U.S. Open Champion got up in almost last place, but blazed through the pack, passing Kevin Windham for second place about four laps from the end. Stewart, however, was long gone and Carmichael had to settle for a distant second place, officially 12.481 seconds behind the winner.

Windham held on to finish third, comfortably ahead of Makita Suzuki’s Ivan Tedesco and Kawasaki’s Tim Ferry, who finished a few seconds ahead of fellow Kawasaki rider Michael Byrne. David Vuillemin finished seventh, followed by Josh Demuth, Chad Johnson, Keith Johnson, Brock Sellards and Cole Siebler.

In the SX Lites main event, SoBe/Samsung Mobile/Honda’s Josh Grant took a wire-to-wire win over Monster/Pro Circuit/Kawasaki’s Chris Gosselaar, who finished 7.646 seconds behind Grant. Motoworld/Yamaha’s Justin Brayton got on the podium in third. Jake Weimer and Sean Collier rounded out the top five overall.

This year’s race featured for the first time a Superpole, where the top 11 riders in the earlier timed practice session got the chance to compete for $10,000 in a timed shootout. Each rider got one lap against the clock, and the rider who clicked off the quickest time, got the $10,000. Tim Ferry held the quickest lap for a while with a 43.432, until Stewart reeled off a 42.774. But one rider was left and that was Carmichael. Carmichael, however, who said that he was struggling with his suspension setup, could only muster a 43.600, which was good enough for the fourth-best time. Windham was second fastest with a 43.153. Ferry ended up third.

Tomorrow’s race will have the riders compete on the track in reverse.

Kit Palmer | Off-Road Editor

Kit Palmer started his career at Cycle News in 1984 and he’s been testing dirt and streetbikes every since – plus covering any event that uses some form of a knobby tire. He’s also our resident motorcycle mileage man with a commute of 120 miles a day.