Stewart Steamrolls Atlanta Supercross

Shan Moore | February 21, 2009

The eighth round of the AMA Supercross Series produced few surprises tonight in Atlanta’s Georgia Dome, as James Stewart continued his recent run by claiming his seventh win in a row, easily topping defending series champ Chad Reed, who finished second for the seventh race in a row. While Stewart’s win came rather easily, after he grabbed the holeshot, Reed had to work hard for his runner-up finish when a poor jump from the gate left him in 10th out of the first turn.

With the win, Stewart moved to the top of the series point standings for the first time this year, three points ahead of the Rockstar Makita Suzuki-mounted Reed.

With each race (and each win), Stewart seems to gain more confidence and more speed, and this was especially noticeable in tonight’s final as the San Manuel Yamaha rider easily outdistanced the field, crossing the finish line with an official margin of victory of 9.417 seconds.

Yamaha’s Broc Hepler ran in second place during the early going, trailing Stewart, and leading Monster Energy Kawasaki’s Ryan Villopoto for a handful of laps before giving way to Villopoto and then Reed.

At the halfway mark, Reed caught Villopoto and ran at his rear tire for a few laps until Villopoto clipped a jump and lost momentum, allowing Reed to pass. Reed would give the position back a few turns later when he tangled with a fallen lapper, however, he lost only the one position and was soon on Villopoto’s tail again. Reed made his second pass on Villopoto look much easier and he soon pulled to away to a safe second, while Villopoto held on to take third.

Red Bull Honda’s Andrew Short came into Atlanta sitting third in the series standings, having bumped Josh Grant down a position after finishing third the week before in San Diego, while Grant crashed out. Like Reed, Short also suffered a poor start and had to work his way past teammate Davi Millsaps and then Hepler to finally end up in fourth, ahead of Hepler in fourth.

Grant ended up having a night to forget. The JGR/Toyota/Yamaha rider tangled with Suzuki’s Mike Alessi off the start and then later crashed hard when Honda’s Ivan Tedesco landed on him after a jump. Grant ended the night in 13th, while Tedeso was seventh.

In the Lites final, Monster Energy Kawasaki teammates Austin Stroupe and Christophe Pourcel jumped out an early and impressive lead as the two quickly pulled away from the rest of the field.

By the third lap, Stroupe had put several lengths on Pourcel and looked to be well on his way to a win. However, on lap 10, Stroupe mysteriously stalled his engine, allowing  Pourcel to take the lead. Pourcel rode away with an easy win while Stroupe moved up to an eventual seventh after falling back as far as ninth.

Suzuki’s Nico Izzi overcame two crashes in his heat race and survived the LCQ to make to the main event where he finished a strong second ahead of MDK/KTM’s Martin Davalos and 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.