James Stewart experienced the most emotional win of his career in St. Louis
after going eight rounds without a win.
San Manuel Yamaha’s James Stewart rolled into St. Louis’ Edward Jones Dome and made it his own on Saturday night. The 25-year-old was desperately in need of a win, having gone eight rounds in the 2011 AMA Supercross Championship without taking a 25-point tally. But the ’09 champ experienced a return to his former glory in Round 14. Stewart led 19 of the 20 laps, laying a bitter smackdown on his rivals by running lap times that were nearly two seconds faster than the rest of the field. Perhaps the other factor making Stewart’s win momentous was that all the major players stayed on their bikes – a rare occurrence when you consider the frequency and magnitude of crashes in previous rounds. The weight of his win was not lost on Stewart, who delivered a tear-filled speech after clenching his fourth win of the season.
“I think that this is probably the most emotional win I’ve ever had in my career,” said Stewart. “Just to go so long [without a win]. I don’t think it’s ever been that long in my amateur career. It felt like I couldn’t win anymore.”
While Stewart overcame a major hurdle in St. Louis, Rockstar Makita Suzuki’s Ryan Dungey continued his steady march to the top of the standings. Though still trailing Monster Energy Kawasaki’s Ryan Villopoto in the championship, Dungey has surfaced as one of, if not the most, dangerous competitors in the series. Currently only five points behind
The gap between Ryan Dungey (above) and Ryan Villopoto (below) is shrinking after another solid performance from the defending champ.
RV, Dungey has shaped his remarkable season so far with a high number of top-three finishes. His podium success rate could be even higher if you take into account the broken chain the defending champ suffered at Anaheim 2, resulting in a DNF. Dungey never wavered in St. Louis’ main where he remained in the top-three for all 20 laps. Another area that Dungey excelled in was his adaptability. After witnessing Stewart tripling through a section, Dungey stepped it up in order to minimize the leader’s advantage.
“All in all the night was pretty good, said Dungey. “I got off to another good start in the main which really helped. I’m really thankful for a second on the night. I’m focusing on just being really consistent and smart.”
After getting a top-five start, Villopoto was in much better shape to challenge for the lead in St. Louis. The 22-year-old stuck with TwoTwo Motorsports’ Chad Reed while passing Ivan Tedesco. RV caught a break when Reed landed on a tuff block, temporarily stopping the two-time champ is his tracks. Despite getting around Reed, however, Villopoto was still more than eight seconds behind Dungey, and with few passing opportunities the best he could do was third.
“Everyone was talking about this race since it’s where I crashed last year, but I came into it like any other race,” said Villopoto. “I had a points lead to protect and that was the main thing on my mind. I’m definitely happy to have finished the race this year and keep the points lead.”
Villopoto also added: “I’m definitely looking for another win. A win would help the last few races and take a little stress off the race in Las Vegas. Right now I’m going to concentrate on practicing starts and if I get that, I know we should be okay.”
Trey Canard may not have been battling for the win in St. Louis, but the rookie continued winning the hearts of fans through his determined riding after a poor start.
Honda’s Trey Canard may not have shot out of the gates like he wanted to, but he still generated a media buzz by flying through the field and finishing fifth. Although he lost four points on the series leader, Canard’s perseverance was a true spectacle to watch as the rookie continues to set a high bar during his first year in the 450s.
In the penultimate round of the East Coast Lites Championship Geico Powersports Honda’s Justin Barcia nearly led a start-to-finish victory in St. Louis. However, the 19-year-old encountered fierce opposition from Yamaha’s Ryan Sipes in the opening laps. The one thing that kept Barcia out front was error-free riding as Sipes made multiple blunders to fall off the pace. Now a full 20 points ahead in the title chase, Barcia and company face just one more race before a champion gets crowned.
“I know that this championship is coming down to the wire, and I look forward to the final race in Las Vegas,” said Barcia.
Monster Energy Pro Circuit Kawasaki’s Blake Baggett overcame a trying spell to return to the podium for the first time since Indianapolis. Baggett secured the holeshot out of the gates, effectively ending a streak of bad starts which began back in Jacksonville. Despite being overrun by Barcia and Sipes, Baggett held his ground in the order and finished third ahead of teammate, Dean Wilson.
“My start was better than it has been the past couple of weeks, which really helped me stay out with the front runners,” said Baggett. “I tried to push my way up to the leader, but the track was pretty technical and I didn’t want to chance anything. I’m glad the season is winding down and we can start focusing on outdoors.”
Wilson came into St. Louis with a 13-point deficit behind Barcia, but after a lackluster start the Scotsman left trailing the leader by 20 points. While the result pretty much ends his chances of taking the title this year, Wilson remains level-headed about his accomplishments this year and what to expect for the final round in Las Vegas.
“My night didn’t go how I wanted, but I’m still healthy and ready to go to Las Vegas and have some fun,” said Wilson. “I had to come through the pack a little and hopefully in Vegas I can get a good start. The pressure is not on me and I’ll just try to have fun at the last round. I mostly want to show people that I am one of the fastest riders out there. I’ve been inconsistent in the championship, but I know I’m fast and can win championships.”