Monster Energy Kawasaki's James Stewart had yet another stellar weekend, riding to victory with another perfect score. But it was the first moto at Spring Creek in Millville, Minnesota that marked one of the highest notches on Stewart's wall. His win garnered him his first ever AMA Motocross Championship title - one that has eluded him year after year. But there has been little question as to who the 2008 outdoor season belongs to; Stewart remains undefeated and his perfect moto score for the year continues.
"Last time I was here I got lapped," Stewart said from the podium with a laugh. "So this was good. To get this one out of the way... it was a long time coming. To sweep both motos and win [the championship] was awesome."
"This has been my toughest season," Stewart continued. "All the struggles before and everything I went through to get back [healthy], it really makes this special to me. I really want to thank Kawasaki for all the hard work they've put in."
Stewart's rides in both motos were pretty uneventful, both times he immediately move into the lead and checked out before the second lap was over. But behind Stewart, the racing stayed interesting. The first moto saw Red Bull Honda's Ivan Tedesco in second place early in the race. Millville marked his first race back after being out with an injury since early in the Supercross season. Also back in action this weekend was Factory Yamaha's Broc Hepler. The "Ice Man's" return to action was also his premier race in the motocross class. It was a solid run for Hepler, who started and finished the race in fifth. Tedesco slipped back, surrendering podium positions to his teammate Andrew Short and Monster Energy Kawasaki's Timmy Ferry. Josh Hill recovered from a bad start to take fourth in front of Helper followed by Michael Byrne, Tedesco and Jeff Alessi.
The second moto saw Jeff Alessi with the holeshot (although two turns later Stewart relieved him of the lead) and a first turn pile up sending many of the key players to the ground. The crash took Hill out of the race and Tedesco and Short started near dead-last. Ferry soon joined them in the back of the pack after he crashed heading into the second lap. Meanwhile, Alessi ran a strong second followed by Byrne, Goerke and Cody Cooper.
Short charged through the pack and came back to fifth, enough to land him on the overall podium in second. Byrne collected second in the moto ahead of Cooper to take third overall. MDK KTM's Nick Wey finished fourth overall with a 10-4 score and Timmy Ferry rounded out the top five overall with a 3-12 score on the day.
Monster Energy Kawasaki's Ryan Villopoto dominated the opening moto at Spring Creek Motocross Park, finishing ahead of Makita Suzuki's Ryan Dungey, but the second moto was a bit more eventful when Villopoto crashed on the first lap. "I just came down the first downhill and I was pushing hard," stated Villopoto. "I think I hit a wet spot. The next thing I know I was rolling on the ground."
It was enough to hand the overall win to Dungey, who opened up a commanding lead on the Lites field. But in the bigger picture, Villopoto didn't give anything up to Dungey since his second place finish was more than enough to clinch the championship.
"I didn’t know exactly where I needed to finish but I had an idea," Villopoto said. "I just wanted to finish second because I knew I could [catch them]."
Nonetheless, Dungey was happy to take away another win.
"It feels good," Dungey said. "Two months ago I was just settling for second. I had to believe in myself to get where I am now and compared to last year, when I didn't win at all, I'm thankful to be healthy and having success."
Villopoto's Monster Energy Pro Circuit Kawasaki teammate Brett Metcalfe finished third overall with a 4-3 for the day while Jake Weimer claimed fourth overall with a 7-5. A member of the "graduating class of Loretta Lynn's" was impressive in his debut. Blake Wharton rounded out the top five overall with a 10-4 score for the day.
Motocross Class Overall:
1. James Stewart, Haines City, Fla., Kawasaki, 1-1
2. Andrew Short, Smithville, Texas, Honda, 2-5
3. Michael Byrne, Newnan, Ga., Suzuki, 6-2
4. Nick Wey, Dewitt, Mich., KTM, 10-4
5. Tim Ferry, Largo, Fla., Kawasaki, 3-12
6. Jeff Alessi, Victorville, Calif., Honda, 8-6
7. Matt Goerke, Lake Helen, Fla., KTM, 9-7
8. Broc Hepler, Kittanning, Pa., Yamaha, 5-11
9. Cody Cooper, Tallahassee, Fla., Suzuki, 19-3
10. Charles Summey, Huntersville, N.C., Yamaha, 13-10
Motocross Class Point Standings
1. James Stewart, Haines City, Fla., Kawasaki, 500
2. Timmy Ferry, Largo, Fla., Kawasaki, 334
3. Andrew Short, Smithville, Teas., Honda, 328
4. Michael Byrne, Newman, Ga., Suzuki, 317
5. Cody Cooper, Tallahassee, Fla., Suzuki, 230
6. Nick Wey, Dewitt, Mich., KTM, 228
7. Mike Alessi, Victorville, Calif., Suzuki, 221
8. Jeff Alessi, Victorville, Calif., Honda, 205
9. Davi Millsaps, Tallahassee, Fla., Honda, 203
10. Josh Hill, Yoncalla, Ore., Yamaha, 188
Motocross Lites Overall
1. Ryan Dungey, Belle Plaine, Minn., Suzuki, 2-1
2. Ryan Villopoto, Poulsbo, Wash., Kawasaki, 1-2
3. Brett Metcalfe, Murrieta, Calif., Kawasaki, 4-3
4. Jake Weimer, Rupert, Idaho, Honda, 7-5
5. Blake Wharton, Pilot Point, Texas, Honda, 10-4
6. Kyle Cunningham, Fort Worth, Texas, Honda, 5-11
7. Andrew McFarlane, Menifee, Calif., Kawasaki, 9-9
8. Wil Hahn, Decatur, Texas, Yamaha, 8-10
9. Justin Brayton, Murrieta, Calif., KTM, 12-7
10. Josh Grant, Riverside, Calif., Honda, 3-34
Motocross Lites Point Standings
1. Ryan Villopoto, Poulsbo, Wash., Kawasaki, 485
2. Ryan Dungey, Belle Plaine, Minn., Suzuki, 376
3. Brett Metcalfe, Murrieta, Calif., Kawasaki, 305
4. Jake Weimer, Rupert, Idaho, Honda, 259
5. Nico Izzi, Saint Clair, Mich., Suzuki, 230
6. Ryan Sipes, Vine Grove, Ky., KTM, 192
7. Kyle Cunningham, Fort Worth, Texas, Honda, 174
8. Trey Canard, Elk City, Okla., Honda, 173
9. Josh Grant, Riverside, Calif., Honda ,173
10. Andrew McFarlane, Menifee, Calif., Kawasaki, 156