This past weekend's MX race at Unadilla became one of the most popular events of the 2010 AMA Motocross Championship due to one man: James Stewart.
The San Manuel Yamaha rider returned for Round 9 in New York after a six-month hiatus due to injuring his wrist at Round 3 of the AMA Supercross season.
The 24-year-old had an impressive result on his Yamaha YZF450F in moto 1, taking the final podium spot behind the Clement Desalle and series leader Ryan Dungey. As for Moto 2, the Florida native didn't have much luck, his race ending in a DNF. Both finishes gave him an 11th overall.
In moto 1, Stewart was right there with the leaders, but was unable to catch the Rockstar Makita Suzuki RMZ450 of Dungey, or the Belgium MX1 rider Desalle. From the gate, Stewart first fought with Honda Red Bull Racing's Andrew Short for third, and then passed Desalle for second.
Towards the end of the moto, though, Stewart experienced harsh bobble, which allowed Desalle pass for second place. Although he couldn't grab second, his progress after such a lengthy time without competing shows why Stewart is a seven-time AMA champion.
James Stewart says: "I knew I wasn't going to be 100-percent coming in here, but I can't take anything away from those guys," he said. "They were riding really good and I didn't have anything for them. I'm confident in myself and my team that things will only improve from here."
His team manager, Larry Brooks, remains focused on the rest of the AMA MX season.
Larry Brooks says: "(Unadilla) was a learning experience for our team. Though many of us have years of motocross racing experience, as a team, we have not raced motocross in a long time. We had some challenges but we learned a lot today and will do what it takes to improve before Southwick."
Stewart was hoping to compete with Team USA in Motocross of Nations, but due to not being on the track enough this season, he wasn't chosen. For 2010, Dungey, Trey Canard and Andrew Short will make up Team USA.
James Stewart says: "I'm really disappointed as I was really hoping to ride for Team USA. But I understand that they have to make a decision and they haven't seen me ride in a while. And there are a lot of guys who have raced a full season that deserve a chance. I wish Team USA the best for a successful run at the title."
Although he won't be in the MX of Nations, Stewart is expected to participate in the remaining AMA Motocross season, competing in Southwick, Steel City and Pala Raceway.