Tension builds as Supercross battle enters the final round
The thrilling and often times tense battle for the 2009 Monster Energy® AMA Supercross, an FIM World Championship, title came to a head this past Saturday as the tour returned to Salt Lake City’s Rice Eccles Stadium.
The penultimate race of the season offered a wild card due to rain showers throughout race day, which produced a somewhat tricky racing surface. As the AMA Supercross class main event blasted out of the gates, the track was in the best condition it had been in all day. The two gladiators fighting for the 2009 crown, Team San Manuel Yamaha’s James Stewart and Rockstar/Makita Suzuki’s Chad Reed, took advantage of the conditions and put on a show for the Utah fans. Passing one another on several occasions and racing bar-to-bar throughout the first half of the 20-lap main, four months of fierce competition boiled over and reached a tipping point when Stewart’s teammate Kyle Chisholm appeared to make an errant block directly into Reed’s bike as the duo lapped the Yamaha rider.
The incident was enough to slow down Reed’s charge and allowed Stewart to cruise to his 11th win of the season and possibly his second-career AMA Supercross class championship as he now carries a six-point lead into this weekend’s finale in Las Vegas. As if the mind games weren’t already in full swing, the move by Chisholm sparked considerable controversy and tension between the two teams and riders that don’t share much love for one another. However, both riders put their focus on this weekend and will surely let the business be handled out on the racetrack in the most anticipated series finale in history. Chisholm was black flagged by race officials and did not finish the race.
"Not in 33 years of race officiating, do I remember a black flag being used in a pro supercross race," said John Gallagher, FIM race director.
James Stewart Speaks…
"That was a fun race for me," said Stewart. We passed one another several times and it was fun. Chad was on it tonight, and I almost crashed a few times. We have one more race next weekend in Las Vegas."
Reed was able to bounce back from his worst race of the season with runner-up finish number 11, but realizes he needs to step things up if he hopes to have any chance at defending his championship.
Chad Reed Speaks…
"I got the holeshot and started the race out great," said Reed. "There are little things here and there that I need to work on, but it was a good race. We head to Las Vegas next weekend for the last race of the season, and I am looking forward to it."
While neither team was willing to shed light on what happened out on the track, fans can be sure to see fireworks well beyond the opening ceremonies at Sam Boyd Stadium this Saturday.
As the AMA Supercross Lites Western Regional Championship came to an exhilarating conclusion in Salt Lake City with GEICO Powersports Honda’s Trey Canard capturing his first win of 2009 and Rockstar/Makita Suzuki’s Ryan Dungey garnering his first title as a professional, it set the stage for an epic battle with this weekend’s Dave Coombs Sr. East/West Supercross Lites Shootout Presented by Toyota.
Trey Canard Speaks…
"This win tonight is great for me," said Canard. "I have had a rough season and to end it like this is all worth it."
With a championship in hand, Dungey will take the number one plate with him to Las Vegas as he guns for his third-consecutive victory in the prestigious race.
Ryan Dungey Speaks…
"I want to thank my family and team for being there for me," said Dungey on the championship. "I lost the battle but won the war tonight. There are so many people that helped me get to this point in my career and I want to thank them."
Joining the long list of challengers in the AMA Supercross Lites battle at Sam Boyd Stadium will be West Coast regulars Canard, Jake Weimer, and Ryan Morais along with East Coast stars Austin Stroupe, Blake Wharton, and Christophe Pourcel, the Eastern Regional Champion.
The first AMA Supercross class race was held at Sam Boyd Stadium on Saturday, March 17, 1990, and Jeff Matiasevich won main event. Jeremy McGrath won the AMA Supercross Lites class race that same evening. McGrath won three consecutive Lites class races before moving to the premier class where he won four main events. In addition to his seven supercross championships, McGrath is first on the all-time win list in both the AMA Supercross class and AMA Supercross Lites class.
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.