Stewart Wins Again

Kit Palmer | October 11, 2008

James Stewart came a holeshot away from pocketing the $250,000 Trifecta, but the San Manuel Yamaha rider did come away with the overall win at the Rockstar Energy Drink U.S. Open at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas. Stewart capped off the weekend with another win Saturday night in front of a capacity crowd, but this time, he had to work for it.

Stewart got pinched off in the first turn, while Rockstar Makita Suzuki’s Chad Reed put his RM-Z450 into the lead on the first lap after passing fast-starter Broc Hepler. Stewart came out of the first turn in fourth, but by the second lap, he was in second place and charging after Reed. About three seconds separated the two front-runners, but Stewart slowly but surely narrowed that gap with each passing lap. By the halfway point, that three seconds had shrunk to three feet, but on a track that offered very little passing space, Stewart appeared to be “stuck” behind the Suzuki rider.

However, Stewart had one section, a triple-triple, that only he was clearing, and he was noticeably gaining ground on Reed there. At times, he got along side the Suzuki rider, but couldn’t pull the trigger. And time was running out. But with about four laps left, Reed made a big mistake over that very same triple-triple and went crashing, spectacularly off the track.

Caption: Stewart (7) and Reed (8) got a little close as they battled for the lead.

“I don’t know what I did,” Reed said. “I grabbed a handful [of throttle] and went off the side of the track.”

Stewart was handed an early Christmas present, as he rode past Reed and rode on to victory, his first on his new Yamaha team. Although Stewart didn’t win the Trifecta, don’t feel sorry for him, as he still earned $160,000 over the weekend, including the $100,000 prize money for winning the overall.

Reed got up in time to finish third, but his DNF on Friday night kept him out of contention for the overall win. He was, however, credited with eighth overall.

Second overall on the weekend went to Red Bull Honda’s Ivan Tedesco. Although he finished fifth in tonight’s main, his second-place finish the previous night was good enough to beat out Rockstar Makita Suzuki’s Ryan Dungey for runner-up honors.

“I’m not too happy with my riding this weekend, but I’m happy with the overall,” Tedesco said.

Dungey went 5-4 over the weekend, getting on the podium in third, a remarkable feat when you consider he was riding one of the few 250Fs in the entire field.

Red Bull Honda’s Andrew Short finished second tonight, which combined with his Friday night 12th, gave him fourth overall.

> Fifth overall went to MDK/KTM’s Justin Brayton who went 4-9 over the weekend.

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.