Even though James Stewart did not win the Anaheim I Supercross, his competitors should be worried. After all, in his first indoor race in almost a year, he might have ridden as fast as ever. He set the bar in the afternoon qualifying, catching and passing eventual main-event winner Ryan Villopoto in their heat race. Then he came back from a 17th-place start to finish third in the main event, and even had second-place Ryan Dungey in his sights by the time the checkered flag came out. Even if you aren’t a Stewart fan, you have to admit his performance was impressive.We spoke with him after the race.For you, Anaheim I ended up came down to the start. You were fastest in qualifying, you won your heat race, but the start got you tonight. What happened off the start?I don’t know what happened. They held the gate pretty long. I haven’t started a race pretty decent in a while. We’ve been struggling with our starts all night and even during the day, so we’re going to try and work on that during the week. I just got a bad start and almost hit my teammate [Kyle Regal]. I think there was just three people behind me [after the first lap]. You can’t come from 17th to win, this ain’t no 125cc class anymore. It just wasn’t a good night on the starts.How different for you was it coming into this race compared to any other Supercross race?Yeah, this was different. I hadn’t raced Supercross in about a year, so it was definitely tough jumping into the mix. But I think I rode pretty good. Practice was solid, my heat race was okay, the main event I thought was good, it was just a bad start.Coming from 17th to third is quite an accomplishment. Does this make you any more confident?I feel pretty confident from coming from the back of the pack like that. Plus, it was a one-lined track, and to be able to come back from 17th to third…I’m happy.After having not race Supercross in about a year, were you satisfied with your speed tonight?I thought my speed in the main event was good considering I was having to pass people, but I never really questioned that. I always kind of knew that.What’s the game plan now heading into Phoenix?The team, we’re going to go back and just keep working. I think we have a good package, which is making my job a little easier. I just want to continue working. I feel we have a pretty good base, and I actually have quite a bit of confidence now walking out of here. It feels good getting on the box.How is the wrist?Didn’t even notice it. I came up short on this triple a few times – I tested it. At this point, I’m just trying to have fun, I’m happy to be healthy and happy to be racing.Obviously, you wanted to win tonight, so how do you feel about getting third?Fifth would’ve been okay from where I came from. I was making some smart passes, there were only like two places you could pass on the track, through the whoops and [in one] corner. Obviously, I’d like to win but you can’t get greedy. If it takes me a couple of weeks to get that victory, I’ll wait.What do you think of your condition now that you have a race under your belt?I had to waste a lot of energy to pass a lot of people, so I think I was one of the strongest ones at the end. I felt pretty good. When I caught up to Ryan, I was catching him little by little, but I made one mistake over the triple – there were a couple of laps left, and he kind of got that momentum again from me. I just tried to stay consistent. We’ll just keeping building from here.
We talked to Stewart’s San Manuel team manager Larry Brooks:What did you think of James’ performance?I thought James rode really smart; it wasn’t the greatest start, he ran into a bunch of riders in the first corner, and it seemed like everyone wanted to race him coming up through the pack. Finishing on the podium, leaving Anaheim, the first round, I think it’s definitely a good position form him.Was he any more nervous than usual going into Anaheim I?No, he just wanted to get back into racing again. It’s been a while and he was excited to come back. Being off the starting gate for a while, I think for him, it was more about breaking the ice and getting the ball rolling.What do you know about Stewart’s wrist? Are there any lingering affects?That’s the past. The navicular in the past, it seemed, like it could be a dangerous bone [to break], but I think with the way the doctors are and medical advancements, I think it’s not as dangerous as it used to be.What about you? How do you feel now that the first round is over with?I’m glad it’s over. It was a long day and a long night, but I think I’m happy just to walk away from here with good points, and I’m ready to go on to the next one.