Stewart Wins Another In Houston

Shan Moore | January 24, 2009

San Manuel Yamaha’s James Stewart claimed win number three in the Monster Energy AMA Supercross Series tonight in Houston’s Reliant Stadium, and moved three points closer to Chad Reed in the series points standings, while Reed took a hard-earned runner-up finish, having to work his Makita Suzuki through traffic to do so after getting squeezed out in the first turn at the start.

Stewart came into Houston a full 12 points behind Reed after having finished 19th at the opener in Anaheim, but has since reeled off three-straight wins and leaves Houston tied for second overall with round-one winner, JGR/Toyota/Yamaha’s Josh Grant.

In Houston’s main event, it was Monster Energy Kawasaki’s Ryan Villopoto with the holeshot and the early lead, with Stewart holding down second until lap four, where he squared Villopoto up in a turn to take the lead.

By that time, Reed had worked his way into fifth with Grant in fourth and Red Bull Honda’s Andrew Short in third.

By lap five, Reed was around Grant and into fourth, but it would take him until the 11th lap before he could close in on Short and make a pass.

Once around Short, Reed started putting pressure on Villopoto and the 450-class rookie soon made a mistake, washing the front wheel out in a turn and giving up second to Reed, however, by the time Reed got into second place Stewart was long gone and took the checked flag with almost 10 seconds to spare over Reed. Villopoto held on to third with Short and Grant rounding out the top five.

Reed now holds a nine point lead over Stewart heading into next week’s round in San Diego, but Stewart knows better than to panic at this point.

“The series is a long one and we now have three wins out of four races,” said Stewart. “It’s funny how you can win three out of four and still be down nine points. Chad’s definitely making it tough so we just got to keep cranking away and do our best.”

The Houston round marked the first round of the East Lites Series and in practice it was Monster Energy Kawasaki teammates Austin Stroupe and Christophe Pourcel leading the way. And at the start of the main event it was Pourcel with the holeshot, however, Stroupe was cut off in the first turn and then went off the track later in the lap when he was trying to make a pass.

Pourcel wasted no time establishing a solid lead and then rode a fast and error-free race to the win.

GEICO Powersports Honda’s Brett Metcalfe made up ground from a fifth-place start, moving into second place on lap seven, passing Makita Suzuki’s Nico Izzi to do so.

At the finish, the order was Pourcel, making it two wins in three starts in AMA Supercross, with Metcalfe second and Izzi third.

Stroupe worked his way into fourth by the checkered flag, just ahead of GEICO Powersports Honda’s Blake Wharton.

Shan Moore | Contributing Editor

Moore covers all facets of off-road racing for Cycle News – from AMA Supercross and Motocross to GNCC and National Hare Scrambles events.