Stewart Is The ’09 Supercross Champ

Kit Palmer | May 3, 2009

James Stewart held on to capture the 2009 AMA Supercross Championship title after what was an “interesting” main event tonight at the Sam Boyd Stadium in Las Vegas, Nevada. Heading into the final race of the championship, all series leader Stewart needed to do was finish third or better if his bitter rival Chad Reed won, as just six points separated the two going into the final. Stewart put his San Manuel Yamaha into the early lead after having zero problems getting around holeshotter Mike Alessi, Reed’s Rockstar Makita Suzuki teammate, as did Monster Energy Kawasaki’s Ryan Villopoto. Reed settled into fourth.

With nothing to lose, Villopoto started working hard on Stewart, who wanted no part of the Kawasaki rider and relinquished the lead to Villopoto on the second lap.

While Villopoto began pulling away, Reed slipped passed Alessi and set his sights on Stewart, who was about four seconds ahead of him. Reed slowly inched closer to Stewart and was soon right on Stewart’s rear fender. Like with Villopoto, Stewart wanted no part of Reed either and noticeably slowed, hoping Reed would pass him, but nothing doing. Reed wanted to stay right behind and perhaps pressure Stewart into a mistake.

Reed didn’t want an easy pass and kept pestering the Yamaha rider. Finally, around the 15th lap, Reed made his move in a “racing” pass, cutting to the inside and pushing Stewart to the outside. The two riders made contact, and Stewart went off the track, nearly crashing. But he held his bike upright and happily found himself in solid control of third. Fourth place, Kevin Windham, was well behind the Yamaha rider.

“I knew it was coming,” Stewart said of the contact.

Meanwhile, while Stewart and Reed were seemingly dicing in slow motion, Villopoto was speeding away and stretching his lead. He would go on and win the race, his second career victory in two weeks. His first win coming in his home state of Washington in Seattle.

Reed finished second, well behind Villopoto and well ahead of Stewart, but Stewart did what he set out to do and that was to secure the title no matter what position that might be. Stewart finished out the 2009 Supercross series four points ahead of Reed.

“You have no idea how tough this has to come back from what happened at Anaheim 1,” said Stewart. “This is the toughest I have ever had to fight to win a title. It has been a hard-fought championship for everyone. I just want to thank everyone that has been involved in everything we’ve accomplished this season.”

Stewart also said that this title was the most satisfying yet.

Windham, on the Geico Motorsports Honda, ended up fourth, while Honda Red Bull’s Ivan Tedesco rounded out the top five. Alessi ended up sixth.

Stewart finished out the year with 377 points and Reed 373 points. Honda Red Bull’s Andrew Short, who officially clinched third last week in Salt Lake, finished out the year with 270 points. Opening-round winner Josh Grant, on the Joe Gibbs Racing Yamaha, finished the year in fourth, one point ahead of Windham, 237-236.

Hart and Huntington’s Matt Boni ended up taking top honors in the race for series top privateer finisher, and with it, went home $25,000 richer.

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.