James Stewart and Chad Reed clearly don’t see eye to eye on what happened during the race in Salt Lake City.
The previous 16 Monster Energy® AMA Supercross, an FIM World Championship, races this season, set the stage for this weekend’s 17th and final event of the season at Las Vegas’ Sam Boyd Stadium where the AMA Supercross class champion will be crowned tomorrow night. To preview tomorrow night’s race, reigning AMA Supercross class champion Chad Reed spoke at a pre-race press conference to discuss this epic championship and the controversy that surrounds it. Current AMA Supercross class points leader James Stewart declined the opportunity to attend today’s press conference. Joining Reed at the podium was Andrew Short, who is third overall in the AMA Supercross class, Western Regional AMA Supercross Lites class champion Ryan Dungey and Eastern Regional AMA Supercross Lites class champion Christophe Pourcel.
“It’s been a tough but fun year and unfortunately I’ve been on the short end of the stick most of the time,” said Reed. “But we’re here. It’s Vegas and I still got a shot at this thing and I’m going to give it all I have. It’s heated and I’m excited. I’m really enjoying it to be honest with you. I’m in a great position. Every other time that I’ve been in this situation, I’ve been a leader. Now, I’m six points down and I’ve got nothing to lose. It’s pretty much going to be checkers or wreckers.”
Chad Reed believes that James Stewart’s teammate Kyle Chrisholm purposefully blocked him in Salt Lake City.
Stewart, who rides for the San Manuel Yamaha team, won the 2007 AMA Supercross class championship and carries a six-point lead over Reed heading into this weekend. In a typical season six points would be a nice cushion, but this season has been anything but typical. The fierce Stewart/Reed rivalry was brought to a new level last weekend at Salt Lake City’s Rice-Eccles Stadium when Stewart’s teammate Kyle Chisholm, who was being lapped by Reed, made an uncalled-for block on Reed. Subsequently Chisholm was black flagged and disqualified from the race, a call that FIM Race Director John Gallagher has never given in his 33 years of professional officiating.
The rivalry which had cooled mid-season has reignited as a result of allegations of a deceitful strategy. Stewart claims that his actions speak for his words denied the opportunity to clear the air face-to-face at today’s conference. Stunned fans await the latest chapter to unfold in this bitter rivalry tomorrow night.
“Who can deny that it wasn’t intentional,” said Reed. “His line, the fact that he was a lap down, and the obvious being he is James’ teammate. It was a shame. I don’t believe Kyle (Chisholm) is a bad person. I don’t know him personally, but I’ve heard he’s a good kid. It’s weird that a good person should have to go through that. There is a paper trail a mile long of what (Larry Brooks) has done in the past. I find it to be quite amusing but I truly believe everyone in this room knows what really happened.”
Chisholm violated the AMA Supercross an FIM World Championship rulebook which prohibits “failing to immediately respect and comply with the operational or warning flags/lights or other signals from Racing officials” when he remained on track after being shown the black flag and will be suspended from this weekend’s race.
Stewart has been completely dominant in the battle with Reed, winning 11 races and leading 194 laps compared to Reed’s three race wins and 60 laps led. It’s the war that Reed has been focusing on in 2009.
This year Short is enjoying the best AMA Supercross class season of his career and has third place clinched. However, he still has his sights on the first win of his career tomorrow night after picking up 11 podiums this year.
“I’ve put a lot of hard work into the off-season,” said Short. “It’s been a good year for me and the Supercross field is really competitive this (season). A lot of guys have come into the class and it’s been a lot more difficult than years past. I like to think that I’ve continued to improve and all my efforts have been worth it. It’s been an amazing season for the sport. (James) Stewart and (Chad) Reed seem to hate each other which is great for everyone. It’s been amazing. I’m really happy to be such a big part of it.”
Ryan Dungey won the 2009 AMA Western Lites Supercross Championship and will face off with Pourcel in Las Vegas.
Dungey, who is the two-time defending Dave Coombs Sr. East/West Supercross Lites Shootout champion, could become the race’s first three-time winner. The winner of four Western Regional AMA Supercross class main events, Dungey won his championship by five points this year after losing the championship to Jason Lawrence last year by just three points.
“The start of the season was a little rough,” said Dungey. “I kind of came into this with the perspective that it’s a whole new year. To come back and give it another shot was about all that I could do. I felt like I had something that I didn’t have before. In the past, I’d turn a bad day into a bad week but now I realize that winning isn’t everything. I know what’s most important. When things go wrong, I just need to overcome it and let it go. I can only control so much. I’m excited about tomorrow night. Vegas has been good to me and I’m looking forward to getting out there with a new group of guys.”
Pourcel dominated the Eastern Regional AMA Supercross Lites class championship, winning five main events en route to the first AMA title of his career. Pourcel raced in the Western Regional AMA Supercross Lites class championship in 2007 where he picked up his first career AMA win. Later that season he suffered what was being called a career-ending injury that placed him in a wheelchair for nearly a year.
Christophe Pourcel adds his name to the wall of Kawsaki winners after taking the AMA Eat Lites Supercross title.
“With my injury, I was forced to sit off the bike for eight months, but I was ready to go back racing,” said Pourcel. “When the time came to get back on the bike, it was my opportunity to come to the US and try to win the championship. It was already exciting to have the chance to come over here and race for the championship, but to know that I wasn’t sure if I would ever be able to get back on a bike again and to be where I am right now is a great feeling.”
Fan can watch the race live at 7:00 p.m. in HD on SPEED beginning at 7:00 p.m. PST/10:00 p.m. EST.
Tickets for the Las Vegas Monster Energy® Supercross finals are available for $63 Adult/$63 Child for Jackpot Seats and $42 Adult/$21 Child for Gold Circle Seats. Tickets can be purchased through UNLV ticket outlets, participating Yamaha dealers, online at www.UNLVtickets.com or charge by phone at 1-866-8FINALS. Each ticket serves as a free pit pass where fans can gain access to the interactive pits to meet riders, gain autographs and more.
The AMA Supercross Lites class main event will air on SPEED on Sunday, May 3 at Noon EST and the AMA Supercross class will also air on SPEED at 1:00 p.m. EST.