Stewart Wins, Tensions Mount at Salt Lake City SX

Jean Turner | April 26, 2009

The spectacular racing in Salt Lake City certainly didn’t disappoint over 40,000 fans who came out to Rice-Eccles stadium in the cold, rainy weather to see the pentultimate round of the AMA Supercross Championship. It was the battle we’d all been waiting to see – James Stewart and Chad Reed duking it out within a second of each other and swapping the lead back and forth lap after lap. Ultimately, Stewart ended up gaining ground on Reed, who had to settle for second, but not before the tight racing, and even tighter tensions between the two riders had the crowd on its feet.

The technical Salt Lake City track was complicated even further by the weather, and showers all afternoon, which had canceled the second practice session, left the hard-packed track with some muddy spots, and slick, “greasy” terrain. The conditions effectively mixed up the results, with riders such as Mike Alessi not even qualifying for the main. But Reed and Stewart both did what they needed to do in their heat races – stay out of trouble off the start and earn the best possible qualifying position.

Though the traction had greatly improved by the time the main events rolled around, it was still a “throttle control” track. Makita Suzuki rider Chad Reed got off with the holeshot while L&M Yamaha’s Stewart was buried in the pack. Stewart quickly began working his way up while Reed was making a run for it with Red Bull Honda’s Davi Millsaps in tow. Stewart was into second before long, and the two began to gap the field. Reed was looking smooth and comfortable, not being pressured into any mistakes by Stewart, who was all over him trying to find a way around for the entire first half of the race.

Finally, Stewart sailed underneath Reed with a signature scrub over the finish line jump, and the Yamaha rider took over the lead. It was short-lived, however, as Reed ducked on the inside two turns later and regained the point when Stewart bobbled and almost got tangled with a Tuff Block.

Starting their way through lappers added another element to their battle, as they both slalomed between downed riders and more Tuff Blocks. Eventually, Stewart made another pass that stuck, and he secured his lead after his L&M teammate, Kyle Chisholm, made a controversial move as he and Reed lapped him.

Chisholm got out of Stewart’s way, but appeared to run a little interference on Reed, running him wide in a turn. Chisholm got the raw end of the deal, however and hit the ground while Reed suffered little more than a bobble. It took Chisholm nearly a lap to get going again, and all eyes were on them as Reed made his way past again. Reed minded his manners, but gave him a look-back over the triple. Chisholm then got the black flag as he crossed the finish, but continued on his race. The following lap, Chisholm again got the black flag, and finally pulled off the track.

Stewart held a small but steady lead over Reed for the remaining laps, taking his 11th win of the season and extending his points lead from three points to six over Reed heading into the Las Vegas finale next weekend.

Behind the exciting battle up front, Millsaps held on to third, keeping his CRF450R ahead of his teammate, Andrew Short, and Monster Energy Kawasaki’s Ryan Villopoto. In the last laps of the race, Villopoto, who had been working his way up from a bad start, got around Short to take fourth overall behind Millsaps. Short finished fifth followed by Josh Grant (who had to qualify in the LCQ) and Matt Boni, who matched his season-best finish with seventh place.

Supercross Main Event Results:

1. James Stewart

2. Chad Reed

3. Davi Millsaps

4. Ryan Villopoto

5. Andrew Short

6. Josh Grant

7. Kevin Windham

8. Matt Boni

9. Tommy Hahn

10. Ivan Tedesco

11. Paul Carpenter

12. Nick Wey

13. Billy Laninovich

14. Heath Voss

15. Broc Hepler

16. Jacob Marsack

17. Troy Adams

18. Tyler Bowers

19. Kyle Partridge

20. (DQ) Kyle Chisholm

Jean Turner | Contributor

A former staffer at Cycle News, Turner continues to contribute to the website and magazine as a columnist and someone we can count on to whip up a few thousand words on an off-road race when needed.