Stewart Tops New Orleans Qualifying

Shan Moore | March 14, 2009

James Stewart established himself as the man to beat in tonight’s round of the Monster Energy AMA Supercross Series in New Orleans’ Superdome, setting the bar on his San Manuel YZ450F with a fastest time of 51.483 seconds. As expected, Rockstar Makita Suzuki’s Chad Reed was not far off the pace, posting the second-fastest time with a 52.086, while GEICO Powersports Honda’s Kevin Windham was third-fastest with a 52.761.

Rounding out the top five were Team Yamaha’s Joshua Hill with a 52.804 and Red Bull Honda’s Andrew Short with a 52.984.

In Lites-class qualifying, the order was identical to last week’s podium finish at Daytona: Christophe Pourcel (51.893), Martin Davalos (53.046), and Nico Izzi (00:53.444).

The biggest news of the day surrounded Jason Lawrence, who finished a stunning second at the Daytona last week. J-Law’s name was surprisingly missing from today’s time sheets, and while rumors circulated in the pits that Lawrence had hurt his ankle while practicing on the Thursday before the New Orleans round, according to Monster Energy representative Kyle Krause, that was not totally the case.

“He messed something up in his foot a little bit, but basically, Jason just feels he needs a little more time testing and riding,” said Krause. “He just didn’t feel he could come here and back up what he did last week so he decided to just take a week and do a little more testing and a little more riding so he feels a little more comfortable when he comes back.” AM/PM Boost Mobil Yamaha team manager Chris McAvoy and Lawrence’s manager Scott Sepovich did not attend the race.

Actor Brad Pitt is reportedly attending tonight’s race to help bring awareness to his Pink Project and the Make It Right Foundation, which helps victims of Hurricane Katrina in New Orleans’ 9th Ward district. Hart & Huntington team owner Carey Hart also attended the race to help with the cause.

“Since this race was in New Orleans, we decided to team up with Brad Pitt to try to bring awareness and funding to rebuild the 9th Ward, which was hit really hard by Hurricane Katrina,” said Hart. “I actually came in here a few days early with a friend, bike builder Jessie Rooks, who helped me put this together, along with Brad, and we were riding motorcycles around the area and it’s really heartbreaking to ride down around the 9th Ward. There is very little progress going on and it’s been two years now since the hurricane and those are people who have been displaced from their homes. But Brad is a great guy and he’s got so much going on and for him to step outside his box and get involved in this project is really amazing.”

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.