St. Louis Supercross Insider

March 23, 2009
Coverage Provided by Vital MX

Former AMA Supercross Lites Champion Travis Pastrana and current points leader Chad Reed - St.Louis
Travis Pastrana made a brief return to the supercross track, a track that he designed.

Past champions have been brought in several times during the 2009 Monster Energy Supercross season to design tracks, but St. Louis was the first time that one of them had returned to compete as well. Travis Pastrana got the nod to design inside the Edward Jones Dome, and he came up with something really unique. It featured some walled berm corners, which allowed riders to really rail the corners, rather than skid and pivot (while sliding up under the Tuf Blocks). There were also unique features like multi-level corners, lots of different angles (not so many 90° or 180° corners), and what was supposed to be the biggest triple ever… a 96-footer. But after no one opted to try it in the first round of practices, the extra lip was knocked off so that it was the same height all the way across, and it became the takeoff for a large double instead.

When we asked Travis for his impressions of how his design turned out, he said, “I didn’t bother to do all the measurements. I liked all the obstacles that were on the track. Unfortunately, they had to kind of cram them in. And the start, I had like Daytona banking, and they ended up making it flat because they were afraid people were going to launch into the stands. So in hindsight, those two things would have been different.” With a smile he added, “But for a guy like me who sucks at corners, I probably put more corners on this than any Supercross on the face of the earth. I really wasn’t thinking that one through.”

Josh Grant - St.Louis
Grant made a return to the podium in St.Louis, moving him up to fourth in points.

When it came down to time for serious racing in the 450 class, Josh Grant (JGRMX Toyota/Yamaha) grabbed the holeshot and had the early lead, and was followed by Jason Lawrence (Boost Mobile / ampm / Monster Energy / Troy Racing) before being passed by the two primary title contenders, Chad Reed (Rockstar Makita Suzuki) and James Stewart (San Manuel / Yamaha / JSE). Lawrence quickly got out of the way of Reed and Stewart, but hung on for a solid fifth-place finish to back up his second at Daytona.

Up front, both Reed and Stewart also dispatched Josh Grant after two laps. Grant had snagged his shifter on a Tuf Block cover, rendering it useless, and left him in third gear throughout the rest of the main event. Chad led a lap before James Stewart moved into the lead, making a nice inside move before the finish line jump. Stewart led the next 11 laps before crashing atop the over/under bridge. That allowed Reed to get by, and left Stewart in second spot at the finish.

Afterwards, Stewart said, “I just went into neutral up there. It’s just unfortunate to make a mistake like that, and obviously it cost. It’s just a little frustrating. I had a rough night and was able to come back and pass Chad. It’s a bummer I made one mistake, but I won’t sit here and cry about it. I rode my hardest and that’s all I can do.”

As James mentioned, he did have a rough night, crashing twice in his heat race as well. “I just ran off the track in the heat race, and then endoed over that dragonback. It wasn’t the track. I just had a very off night and I almost didn’t make the main event. It’s fortunate how the night went. I’m not hurt, and I’ve got a long ways to go, but I’ll try to make him (Reed) go to the end.”

Chad Reed takes off around the course taking the win - St.Louis
Reed maintains his points lead over Stewart but isn’t letting his guard down with five races left.

For his part, Chad said, “Other than the start, it was good. I felt solid, and when James passed me he had some really good lines. I kind of had to change up my lines and just play with what worked for me. I felt good, just as soon as I got out here and walked the track and rode practice, I just felt like I could put solid laps together. I wasn’t necessarily the fastest guy, but I felt solid. These races are about 20 laps, and not one lap.”

Last week Chad had mentioned that he still felt like he had some wins in him. When we reminded him of that, he said, “And I still feel like I’ve got more. Like I said, I’m here to win the championship, and I want to win races. Winning races is what’s going to win this title right now. I think it’s an 11-point lead with five races to go. This season reminds me so much of ’03. It all started here in St. Louis that year as well. I’ve got a goal, and a plan, and we’ll see if we can take it Vegas and see if it works out.”

Here’s something noteworthy. If Stewart wins the next four in a row with Reed in second, these two guys would go into the final race of the season in Las Vegas one point apart.

Despite his bike problems, Josh Grant brought his JGRMX Toyota/Yamaha home in third spot. “I got a good start this weekend, and that’s what I needed. I was slacking on my starts for a couple weeks, and I just put myself in bad situations. So I’m just pumped to get a good start and go out and put in some good laps. But I had my shifter bent from lap two on, so it was kind of hard to make it through the whole race without shifting. If I didn’t have a clutch I’d be in some big trouble. I think I got it caught on a Tuf Block in the whoops and bent it back, so I couldn’t shift at all, and just kind of kept riding.”

After his tangle with an errant Tuf Block cover early in the season, we mentioned that he does seem to find them on occasion. “I don’t know how we always seem to find them, but I’m kind of glad they’re there, because they’ve broken a lot of my falls and, oh well, just got to keep moving on. We salvaged some points, and made up some on the other guys, so I’m pumped.”

Travis Pastrana
Pastrana wasn’t quite on pace during his races and suffered mechanical failure at the last second of the LCQ leaving him out of the main event.

Oh, and how did Travis Pastrana finish? We’ll let him explain. “I’m super-disappointed. I definitely wasn’t on pace the whole weekend. The first race I didn’t do a typical me. I said, ‘I’m just going to settle in and make it to the main.’ I crashed anyway, and had arm pump out the gazoo. I went to the LCQ, and had a horrible start and said, ‘All right, I’m making it to the main.’ I rode totally not like me. I bumped into everyone and I apologize. I hit someone so hard on the first lap that the whole radiator was smashed. I got all the way up to second and thought, ‘I’m qualified! Then the bike started cutting out and died.’ So overall I was really disappointed, but I was pumped that the whole crowd was so into it.”

In the Lites East main event, Blake Wharton (Geico Powersports Honda) took home his first-ever Supercross win, a week after grabbing his first-ever podium.

After the race, Blake said, “My start was pretty good. It was close, but I held the inside, and that turn was good so I just did the first roller and double-doubled to the inside. I had a good line, and I charged it, and once I got in the lead I just pretty much did my own thing. The track was good, and I could just focus on myself. I watched the pit board a little bit, but when you’re in first, I think it’s just do your own thing. If there’s something you need to know, look over, but just focus on racing your own race so you don’t do something dumb. That’s what I was doing, and I looked up and I had a pretty big lead.”

“Lappers were kind of bad, but I had my lines down and did them every lap. This track was good and I felt it was more technical. It was a tough track, and I think that might have helped me tonight. I liked it. I thought it was a good layout.”
Nico Izzi (Rockstar Makita Suzuki) was in second for most of the main event, but at the end, he was nipped by Austin Stroupe (Monster Energy Pro Circuit Kawasaki).

Christophe Pourcel and Wil Hahn taking off the starting line - St.Louis
Pourcel (377) working to keep his front end down during his heat race.

As for the Lites East series leader? Once again, Christophe Pourcel (Monster Energy Pro Circuit Kawasaki) got off to a slow start, and took his time picking his way through the pack. Though with a 31-point lead to start the night, he could afford to be conservative. “It’s not easy with all the crazy men on the track, but I’m getting better. I was really scared since my injuries, so I didn’t want to crash with another man, because it’s what I got when I crashed with my back (injury). I’m just trying to improve this thing a little bit, and that’s coming better so it’s fine.”

The fast Frenchman added, “Usually when you lead the championship it’s not easy to stay on the front and stay on the podium, and that’s what I’ve got right now. I try to give my best right now, but some men try to jump on my bike, or I crash, but it’s fine. I’ve got a 25-point lead, so I’ll try to win the next race. We’ve got to work on the bike, so I think that will be good.” (Christophe mentioned that he’s been having trouble keeping the front end down on starts.)

With two races left in the Lites East series (Toronto and Jacksonville), Christophe could wrap up his first U.S. championship next weekend. “I rode pretty good, so I’m happy about that this weekend. So the next weekend I’ve got 25 points, so I’m just going to try to win the race. I’ll be really happy if I win the race, and if I win, I‘ve got a championship. I know that I can win the race so easy if I get a good start, and everything goes my way, but it doesn’t go your way every weekend but I’m really ready to get this win.”

Like Christophe mentioned, the series moves to the Rogers Centre in Toronto next weekend, but unlike previous trips north of the border, this visit to Canada will feature points in both classes, which should help draw out more fans. Be sure to check back next week for more Supercross Insider.

2009 Monster Energy Supercross Results:
St. Louis, MO

Supercross Lites Heat 1
1. Christophe Pourcel
2. Matt Lemoine
3. Vince Friese
4. Steven Clarke
5. Matt Goerke
6. Kyle Keylon
7. Darryn Durham
8. Cody Gilmore
9. Teddy Parks

Supercross Lites Heat 2
1. Austin Stroupe
2. Nico Izzi
3. Blake Wharton
4. Shane Sewell
5. Kyle Gills
6. Jason Thomas
7. Jacob Saylor
8. Daniel Blair
9. Spencer Dally

Supercross Heat 1
1. Chad Reed
2. Jason Lawrence
3. Josh Grant
4. Mike Alessi
5. Ivan Tedesco
6. Heath Voss
7. Tommy Hahn
8. Broc Hepler
9. Justin Brayton

Supercross Heat 2
1. Kevin Windham
2. Andrew Short
3. Paul Carpenter
4. Ryan Sipes
5. Matt Boni
6. Tyler Bowers
7. Josh Hill
8. Billy Laninovich
9. James Stewart

Supercross Lites LCQ
1. Chad Ward
2. Tyler Wharton

Supercross LCQ
1. Davi Millsaps
2. Kyle Chisholm

Supercross Lites Main Event
1. Blake Wharton (Honda)
2. Austin Stroupe (Kawasaki)
3. Nico Izzi (Suzuki)
4. Matt Goerke (Suzuki)
5. Christophe Pourcel (Kawasaki)
6. Matt Lemoine (Yamaha)
7. Steven Clarke (Suzuki)
8. Daniel Blair (Honda)
9. Darryn Durham (Yamaha)
10. Shane Sewell (Yamaha)
11. Chad Ward (Kawasaki)
12. Jason Thomas (Honda)
13. Cody Gilmore (Honda)
14. Teddy Parks (Suzuki)
15. Jacob Saylor (Yamaha)
16. Vince Friese (Honda)
17. Spencer Dally (Honda)
18. Kyle Keylon (Honda)
19. Tyler Wharton (Honda)
20. Kyle Gills (Kawasaki)

Supercross Main Event
1. Chad Reed (Suzuki)
2. James Stewart (Yamaha)
3. Josh Grant (Yamaha)
4. Andrew Short (Honda)
5. Jason Lawrence (Yamaha)
6. Ivan Tedesco (Honda)
7. Mike Alessi (Suzuki)
8. Davi Millsaps (Honda)
9. Kevin Windham (Honda)
10. Paul Carpenter (Kawasaki)
11. Justin Brayton (KTM)
12. Matt Boni (Honda)
13. Kyle Chisholm (Yamaha)
14. Broc Hepler (Yamaha)
15. Josh Hill (Yamaha)
16. Ryan Sipes (KTM)
17. Heath Voss (Honda)
18. Billy Laninovich (Kawasaki)
19. Tyler Bowers (Honda)
20. Tommy Hahn (Kawasaki)

Supercross Lites East Point Standings
1. Christophe Pourcel 131
2. Austin Stroupe 106
3. Nico Izzi 102
4. Blake Wharton 91
5. Branden Jesseman 73
6. Matt Goerke 68
7. Wil Hahn 68
8. Matt Lemoine 66
9. Steven Clarke 65
10. Daniel Blair 63

Supercross Point Standings
1. Chad Reed 271
2. James Stewart 260
3. Andrew Short 197
4. Josh Grant 172
5. Ryan Villopoto 165
6. Ivan Tedesco 163
7. Mike Alessi 160
8. Kevin Windham 158
9. Davi Millsaps 152
10. Josh Hill 108

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