Stewart Wins Again as Supercross Championship Heats Up.
In hot pursuit of his second career AMA Supercross championship, L&M Racing’s James Stewart pulled off his incredible 10th win of the season in Jacksonville, Fla. on Saturday night, April 4. But it was by far the hardest victory of the year, as Stewart battled points leader Chad Reed for most of the race, passing for the lead with just five laps remaining and then opening up a slender 3.7-second margin of victory at the flag. The Yamaha star now trails Reed by only five points with three races remaining. Also aboard YZ450Fs, Yamaha Factory Racing’s Josh Hill and Broc Hepler, Joe Gibbs Racing’s Josh Grant and Boost Mobile’s Jason Lawrence were likewise on the pace for Yamaha, with Hill coming out best after charging from mid-pack all the way up to fourth.
Like a great suspense thriller, the 2009 Supercross championship is going down to the wire – and both Stewart and Reed know either one can take it. Stewart’s job is to win while Reed must defend his narrow points lead, so it’s no wonder Jacksonville Municipal Stadium was sizzling with energy as the program got underway. Once again Stewart showed blinding speed in practice, and the pair split heat-race wins to set the stage for the 20-lap main event. They got down to business immediately, dispatching holeshot winner Mike Alessi as Reed took the early lead over Stewart. In a few laps though, Stewart moved to within striking distance but waited until past the halfway point to make a pass. Reed quickly re-passed Stewart, and the crowd was on its feet as the pair banged bars, traded block passes and nearly touched over the enormous triple jump in one of the most intense Supercross battles in recent memory. Finally lap 15, Stewart re-took the lead and put on a burst of speed to secure the win.
"It was a great race, and we actually collided after the triple jump – but that’s racing," said Stewart afterwards. "Chad was riding really good tonight and we were going back and forth. In the middle part of the race he was riding tough and I was just trying to hold onto his coattails. He started making a few mistakes and I was able to capitalize, but he made me work for it. I look forward to the next race in Seattle." With 25 points earned from his hard-fought victory, Stewart takes three points away from Reed, and can take over the championship lead with two more wins. But that chance will have to wait until April 18, when the series resumes after a two-week break. Stay tuned!