Stewart Feels ‘Lied to’ Over MXoN Decision

August 18, 2010
Steve Atlas
Steve Atlas
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Professional-grade speed and an attitude to match, Steve Atlas is the new blood at MotoUSA. Atlas has AMA racing creds that are even more extensive than his driving record.

James Stewart plans on returning to AMA Motocross competition at Unadilla in upstate New York later this month.
James Steward made his return to professional racing this past weekend at Unadilla, though his results weren’t quite up to what some expected from the multi-time champion.

James Stewart made his return to AMA National Motocross racing this past weekend at Unadilla and after finishing third in the first moto but pulling in during the second moto, some were left with questions as to what happened. Why didn’t the once-dominant Stewart come out and leave the competition in the dust? What happened in Moto 2?

Also of some surprise was the Motocross of Nations Team USA announcement at Unadilla, one which did not include Stewart. This had quite a few people scratching their heads since most believed that obtaining a spot on the team was one of the major reasons he decided to come ride the last four nationals. And as it turns out, this was exactly why his ‘Supercross-only’ team spent the time and money to come back motocross racing. So after not getting the nomination, those positions going to Ryan Dungey, Andrew Short and Trey Canard, the multi-time SX and MX champion is quite upset. So much so that he has released an open letter to all his fans.

Take a look and let us know what you think in the comment space below:

As many of you already know, last weekend marked my return to racing after wayyy too long off the track, thanks to a broken wrist I suffered in the beginning of the Supercross series. After nearly eight months off, I decided to return for the last four Nationals. This decision was based on a few reasons; first and foremost was my own desire to race again, along with the fact that I owed it to both my fans and my sponsors to come back after spending so much time on the injured list this year.

But the other main reason I chose to come back for the last four, beginning with Unadilla, was because of a discussion I had with the decision makers for Team USA in Colorado this year regarding the Red Bull Motocross of Nations. At the time, I was told that if I was to make my recovery, begin testing, and get back to racing by Unadilla, that I would be given a spot (or at least a shot at a spot) for the final team. Being on the MXoN team in the past has been one of the greatest experiences of my entire career, so after they told me I had a shot, my team and I were excited, and began to get ready to race outdoors!

Before the first moto got underway  the members of the 2010 Motocross des Nations team were announced. Ryan Dungey  Andrew Short and Trey Canard will represent the United States in Colorado.
Stewart was not announced as one of the 2010 Motocross of Nations Team USA members, which left the Florida native feeling “straight-up lied to.” The team members will be (from left) Andrew Short, Trey Canard and Ryan Dungey.

Of course, we’re a Supercross-only team, so developing our bike to run outdoors with the guys that have been racing at the top level all season long was no easy goal for us… Which brings me to the race at Unadilla. When I got there, I was really excited to get out and practice, and fortunately, practice went pretty well. At that point, the track was still smooth, and though I’ve never loved Unadilla, I was feeling pretty good. My wrist felt great, and my lap times were just about where we expected them to be.

Then, for the first moto, the track got rough and things were a bit different. All of a sudden, we could see some of the lack of preparation shining through; my bike was set up way too stiff for the rough track, but all things considered, I was pretty happy with how I rode. I got into second and my lap times were right there with Dungey’s, and again my wrist was feeling pretty good, so it was all good until I got caught up with a lapper towards the end of the race. Sure I was tired, but for not racing for that long, I was happy to be on the podium. I gave it everything I had, and it was awesome seeing all my fans out there supporting me.

Unfortunately, the second moto didn’t quite go so well. As the track got rougher, our lack of bike preparation showed even more. After getting a bad start, I was just fighting with the bike; it was way too stiff and just not set up properly. At that point, I really had nothing to gain by staying out there, so I just decided to pull off, lick my wounds, and learn from the weekend.

I’m not going to say I didn’t get tired, but given the lack of racing, and the fact that I know where I need to be physically to win, I feel good about Unadilla, overall. Bottom line: We’re a Supercross-only team; we got to Unadilla, and we looked like a Supercross-only team! But my wrist felt better than expected, so with a little bike prep I think we’ll be back on our game.

But back to the MXoN topic. I was really disappointed in how that whole deal went down. Like I said earlier, after being told that if I was to make it back for the last four Nationals, I would be given a shot at being on the team. Well, when I got to Unadilla, apparently the decision had already been made before my bike was even unloaded! So after all that work from me and my team to come back in order to make the des Nations, just like that, the rug was pulled out from under me with no warning. They picked the team already, and I wasn’t on it.

I feel like I was straight-up lied to. Being on the MXoN team is one of the biggest honors and compliments that you be given as a professional rider, and I know that with my injury there was some question as to whether I would be ready or not. I get that; all I wanted was to be even given the original chance they promised me, let me get through a couple races, and hopefully the team could see that I would be ready come September.

At the end of the day, all that really matters to me is that Team USA wins, and I think the team they selected is a solid team that will get the job done. I mean no disrespect to any of those guys, and I hope they kick butt! I’m just bummed that I wasn’t given the fair shot that the decision makers from Team USA promised me earlier that I would have.

-James Stewart