(Above) Rockstar babes in full force in Phoenix.
(Below) Chad Reed put in a solid ride in the 20-lap main.
Nearly a year after the infamous Chad Reed / James Stewart clash and crash inside Phoenix’s Chase Field, in which both riders broke bones in their hands prematurely ending their seasons, Stewart proved why he’s a two-time Supercross champ Saturday night with an impressive performance in round two.
From the moment JS7 hit the track during Saturday afternoon practice to when he took checkered flag in the 20-lap Supercross main. All day Stewart proved that he truly is the fastest rider in the series right now. Not only did the San Manuel Yamaha rider set the fastest lap time during timed qualifying, he nailed the holeshot and led every lap of the main event. If it weren’t for a small tip-over during his heat race, Stewart’s night would have been absolutely perfect.
“The track was really tough tonight,” said Stewart in reference to the soft, slippery conditions. “It was so easy to override. It was complete opposite of Anaheim. I was actually pretty confident in what I was doing. I thought, ‘man you can only ride the track so hard’ so I didn’t want to be the one to give it away tonight—I already gave it away in the heat race.”
The only one to even come close to Stewart’s pace was Anaheim 1 winner Ryan Villopoto. The Monster Energy Kawasaki rider was just a tick off Stewart’s time in qualifying and was able to win his heat. During the first half of the main, Villopoto had the speed to run with Stewart and actually looked like he had something for him until he fell down in one of the slippery flat turns.
“The real game we had to play was pushing that edge to see who was going to make the mistake first,” commented Villopoto. “Up until the ninth lap I was right there with him and I was just trying to push him into a mistake. Being that it was so slippery you couldn’t really push very hard. It was kind of a waiting game.”
“We were playing cat and mouse,” added Stewart. “There were some sections he was pretty good and some sections I was better at. It was actually worse when I was out front by myself compared to when he was there. The jitters were definitely there. It has been a long time since I’ve won a race and I’m glad I got that out of the way especially on a track like tonight. What happened last year was definitely in the back of my mind a little bit.”
(Above) Kevin Windham hangs out with fans. (Below) RV2 ran away in the first heat, winning by more than 12 seconds.
Although 450-class rookie Trey Canard was a few seconds behind the front runners he showed impressive speed during the main especially though the treacherous sand section. While he didn’t get the best start, Canard took third place from Geico Honda’s Kevin Windham, who later crashed out of the race when he slammed into a lapper on the landing of a jump. The veteran Honda rider appeared okay but was a little dazed and confused after the incident.
“It was going good but it wasn’t meant to be,” said Windham post race. “I came up on a lapper who was clearly on the outside. I thought he’d hold it out there—people are supposed to hold their lines. He started coming over on me and I was already in the air. I nailed him. I hit him hard. I destroyed my bike and hit my head pretty hard. I think we hit helmet-to-helmet.”
Meanwhile Canard would go on to secure the final podium spot over TwoTwo Motorsports’ Chad Reed and reigning Supercross champ, Rockstar Suzuki’s Ryan Dungey.
“I was really happy with the result,” Canard said. “Third place in this group is really unbelievable. I wasn’t very pleased with the way I rode. Once I got around Windham I tightened up and kind of froze. I never really found my rhythm. I was bummed on that but the result was awesome. It’ something I can take and build off of and hopefully get more comfortable and hopefully start doing better.”
It was a mixed night for Dungey. Although he didn’t have the best start he was able to pass both Reed and Joe Gibbs Racing’s Justin Brayton which put him into fourth position. But as the race started to wind down the trio came up on a crashed bike lying in the middle of the track. Reed astutely took the inside line off the triple jump as did Brayton and both avoided the carnage, while Dungey took the standard outside line and was balked by the crashed bike. Reed immediately put the hammer down and while Dungey ran down Brayton and eventually caught up with Reed he was unable to make a pass.
Other notes included the return of Austin Stroupe who is riding for the Valli Motorsports team this year. Stroupe was sidelined last season when he banged up his shoulder and after a lengthy recovery he finally looks like he’s ready to race. He got the holeshot in his heat race but eventually got passed by both Reed and Stewart.
In the Lites class, Monster Energy Kawasaki’s Broc Tickle looked like he was going to get his first win this season until he tipped over halfway through the race. It took a few moments for him to get up and running again which allowed his teammate Josh Hansen to take over control of the race. Hansen would go on to take his second win of the season by a healthy margin over Tickle.
The Rockstar Suzuki Lites team had mixed results at Phoenix. Ryan Morais nabbed the final podium position after running near the front for the entire 15-lap race. His teammate Martin Davalos was up near the front dicing until he started to fade back in the middle of the race. He would go on to finish ninth behind Kyle Cunningham.
(Above) James Stewart celebrates his first win in over a year. (Below) RV was in hot pursuit of Stewart, but a fall put him too far back to catch JS7.
Lites-class rookie, Eli Tomac put in a solid ride with the Geico Honda rider finishing in fifth. This was only Tomac’s second Supercross race and after his performance at Anaheim we were wondering if he was going to have the skills to run with more experienced riders but judging by his Phoenix result he definitely does.
The Troy Lee Designs team also proved that they could soon be a team that can challenge for podium finishes with riders Cole Seely, James Decotis, and Travis Baker with the riders taking fourth, seventh and eighth at Phoenix.
Once again, KTM’s Ken Roczen showed that he has the outright speed to run at the front only problem is that he crashes too much. In his heat race he came up short on a jump and crashed. He bruised his heal in the crash but still made it to the LCQ which he won. In the final he was running mid-pack when it looked like he clipped a haybale in the sand section with his footpeg and crashed hard and then got ran over by the rider behind him.
The Monster Energy Supercross season returns to California for Round 3 taking place this weekend at an all-new venue, Dodgers Stadium in downtown Los Angeles.