New Orleans Supercross Insider

March 16, 2009
Coverage Provided by Vital MX

James Stewart - New Orleans
Stewart returns to the top of the podium at New Orleans.

The Monster Energy Supercross season returned to New Orleans and the Louisiana Superdome for the first time since 2002. It was cool to check out Bourbon St., and sample some of the local cuisine, though we did run into a bowl of Jambalaya that had your correspondent visiting the little blue bag that the airlines provide on the way home… Which will make this edition a bit shorter than normal.

Following his crash last weekend as the pack headed to the first turn at Daytona, it would have been easy to think that James Stewart (San Manuel / Yamaha / JSE) would take it a little easier this week. But since he’s 11 points back in the standings, he came into the first turn just as aggressive as ever, stealing away the lead. That seemed to surprise Mike Alessi, who had his eyes on the holeshot from the outside. James said, “I was just holding my line. I got there first, and I was like, ‘Man, I’m not going to go down, and I’m not going to let anybody ride past me. I don’t even know if I got the holeshot, but I got there first, and me and Chad… I think he passed me one time, but then I was able to pull away.”

We asked him to hit the rewind button a bit and explain what happened the previous weekend in the first turn at Daytona. “I know for a fact that I didn’t go in hot. I saw Millsaps do it in front of me in the heat race, and some other guys, and it was just one of those situations that… I wouldn’t even say it was too much front brake. Just hit it and start sliding. The way I fell, I didn’t even know it. It caught me off guard. This weekend I did the same thing, but there was a little more traction and I was able to hold it up.”

Chad Reed - New Orleans
Stewart took off and never looked back as Reed tried to chase him down.

As for Chad Reed (Rockstar Makita Suzuki) he rode a solid 20 laps, but seemed he wasn’t all that happy afterwards. “It’s just little things here and there. He was really good with the lappers tonight and I felt like I was a little better than him at the beginning, but wasn’t able to take advantage of it, and got frustrated. I got frustrated that there weren’t a whole lot of options for me. I knew it, and was just going through the motions. I wasn’t able to ride the race that I wanted to ride.”

“Chad may have been one of the handful of guys who had ridden in New Orleans in the past. “I rode the last one here in 2002. I actually won the Lites class that night, and had a battle with Grant Langston. My buddy GL, I think he was on the KTM that night, and it was a fun night.”

So what did he think of the track? “I thought the track was good. I’m not gonna lie. I didn’t like the sand, just because it’s one-lined. I love sand, but I don’t get why they put it in a turn before the whoops. It makes it one-lined and kind of boring for everyone. They just have to follow the leader and that’s frustrating, you know? I don’t want to sound like a little bitch up here, but everybody out there is like, ‘What are you guys doing?’ Just all the riders, we need to get together and kind of speak up as a group and try to shut ‘em down and not let ‘em make decisions on their own like that.”

When we mentioned that it seemed like the track designers were trying to mix it up, and throw some different things at the riders he said, “I respect that they’re trying to change it up and trying to challenge us, but put it in the straightaways you know? Make some big gnarly Millville section. Take the triples out of the track. Everybody knows how to do a triple. I could do one with my eyes closed.”

Supercross Podium - New Orleans
Broc Helper scored his first 450 Supercross podium.

Finally, we asked Chad if he was pacing himself, or was it wide open through the remaining races of the series? “No. You’ve gotta go. Winning races is what’s going to win this championship. Like tonight we were second, and he (James) was back on the podium. The wins are what’s going to win it, but consistency’s going to play a role. I’m in this position (leading the points) because I’ve been consistent, and won when I had to. It’s not over until it’s over, and that’s why we go racing for 17 races. There’s a long way to go, and anything can happen. I feel like I’ve got some wins left in me. I look forward to the rest of the series.”

With James’ win, and Chad’s second-place finish, there’s now an eight- point gap between the two.

We’ve had some new faces on the podium this year, and added another one in New Orleans. Yamaha Factory Racing’s Broc Hepler scored his first-ever 450 Supercross podium, with a third-place finish. When he was asked how satisfying it was to get back on the box, he said, “I don’t know. I haven’t really had time to enjoy it yet. I was too nervous because I knew Windham was catching me.”

How did he feel about his pace? “At the pace I was running, I wasn’t tired at all. But I need to hang it out a little more and get a step closer…especially not let those guys catch me like they were.” When quizzed on whether scoring a podium finish was one of his goals, he said, “Yeah, it was a goal for the year. You can’t really set a goal to beat Chad and Stewart yet, so we’ll have to try to meet this goal again and keep improving.” Broc also mentioned, “I still struggle in practice. That’s been a big problem for me that we’re working on. Just getting set up and dialed in right off the bat. I seem to have problems with that. It’s more on my end, though. I’m not a good practicer. I think guys like me and Langston are pure racers. I get hurt too much, and I don’t want to hang it out in practice.”

Branden Jesseman - New Orleans
Branden Jesseman made his first podium appearance of 2009 and puts him just a few shy of third in points.

As for the Lites class, the biggest surprise was that a couple of the frontrunners didn’t make the main event. Both Nico Izzi (Rockstar Makita Suzuki) and Martin Davalos (Muscle Milk MDK KTM) had crashes in the LCQ that left them sidelined for the main event. Of course, that left things pretty wide open for some new faces on the podium.

When the gate dropped for the main event, Austin Stroupe (Monster Energy Pro Circuit Kawasaki) grabbed the holeshot and never looked back. But behind him it was Branden Jesseman (Canidae Motosport Kawasaki) who was making his first podium appearance of the ’09 season, and also Blake Wharton (Geico Powersports Honda) who made his first-ever podium appearance.

Lites East points leader Christophe Pourcel (Monster Energy Pro Circuit Kawasaki) looked a little off all day, but he rode a patient main event, avoided the chaos around him, and moved from midpack to fourth at the finish. That leaves him with a 31-point padding in the point standings.

Next weekend the series moves back up the Mississippi river to St. Louis, MO, and we’ll bring you the news and notes from there.

2009 Monster Energy Supercross Results
New Orleans, Louisiana

Supercross Lites Heat 1

1. Blake Wharton
2. Darryn Durham
3. Jacob Saylor
4. Levi Kilbarger
5. Broc Tickle
6. Jason Thomas
7. Chad Ward
8. Dennis Jonon
9. Daniel Blair

Supercross Lites Heat 2

1. Branden Jesseman
2. Austin Stroupe
3. Matt Goerke
4. Tyler Wharton
5. Wil Hahn
6. Christophe Pourcel
7. Bryan Johnson
8. Phil Nicoletti
9. Teddy Parks

Supercross Heat 1

1. Chad Reed
2. Kevin Windham
3. Justin Brayton
4. Mike Alessi
5. Tyler Bowers
6. Davi Millsaps
7. Nick Wey
8. Josh Grant
9. Matt Boni

Supercross Heat 2

1. James Stewart
2. Andrew Short
3. Ivan Tedesco
4. Ryan Villopoto
5. Josh Hill
6. Heath Voss
7. Broc Hepler
8. Kyle Chisholm
9. Robert Kiniry

Supercross Lites LCQ

1. Steven Clarke
2. Matt Lemoine

Supercross LCQ

1. Nate Ramsey
2. Troy Adams

Supercross Lites Main Event

1. Austin Stroupe (Kawasaki)
2. Branden Jesseman (Kawasaki)
3. Blake Wharton (Honda)
4. Christophe Pourcel (Kawasaki)
5. Wil Hahn (KTM)
6. Darryn Durham (Yamaha)
7. Daniel Blair (Honda)
8. Broc Tickle (Yamaha)
9. Matt Goerke (Suzuki)
10. Steven Clarke (Suzuki)
11. Levi Kilbarger (Honda)
12. Dennis Jonon (Kawasaki)
13. Tyler Wharton (Honda)
14. Jacob Saylor (Yamaha)
15. Teddy Parks (Suzuki)
16. Chad Ward (Kawasaki)
17. Matt Lemoine (Yamaha)
18. Phil Nicoletti (Honda)
19. Bryan Johnson (Honda)
20. Jason Thomas (Honda)

Supercross Main Event

1. James Stewart (Yamaha)
2. Chad Reed (Suzuki)
3. Broc Hepler (Yamaha)
4. Kevin Windham (Honda)
5. Andrew Short (Honda)
6. Mike Alessi (Suzuki)
7. Josh Grant (Yamaha)
8. Justin Brayton (KTM)
9. Ryan Villopoto (Kawasaki)
10. Matt Boni (Honda)
11. Josh Hill (Yamaha)
12. Nick Wey (Yamaha)
13. Ivan Tedesco (Honda)
14. Tyler Bowers (Honda)
15. Nate Ramsey (Yamaha)
16. Heath Voss (Honda)
17. Troy Adams (Honda)
18. Davi Millsaps (Honda)
19. Kyle Chisholm (Yamaha)
20. Robert Kiniry (Kawasaki)

Supercross Lites East Point Standings

1. Christophe Pourcel 115
2. Austin Stroupe 84
3. Nico Izzi 82
4. Branden Jesseman 73
5. Wil Hahn 68
6. Blake Wharton 66
7. Martin Davalos 57
8. Matt Lemoine 51
9. Steven Clarke 51
10. Matt Goerke 50

Supercross Point Standings

1. Chad Reed 246
2. James Stewart 338
3. Andrew Short 179
4. Ryan Villopoto 165
5. Josh Grant 152
6. Ivan Tedesco 148
7. Kevin Windham 146
8. Mike Alessi 146
9. Davi Millsaps 139
10. Josh Hill 102

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