ATLANTA, Ga. (February 21, 2009) – As the 2009 Monster Energy® AMA Supercross, an FIM World Championship, made its East Coast debut, a near capacity crowd inside the world famous Georgia Dome watched San Manuel Yamaha’s James Stewart, of Dade City, Fla., take his seventh win in a row and seventh victory of the season en route to stealing the points lead from Rockstar/Makita Suzuki’s Chad Reed, of Tampa, Fla. In the AMA Supercross Lites class, Monster Energy/Pro Circuit Kawasaki’s Christophe Pourcel, of Corona, Calif., grabbed his second win in a row in the Eastern Regional Championship to extend his points lead.
Since race two of the season in Phoenix, Ariz., Stewart has been undefeated and has consistently gained ground on reigning champion Reed. While Reed has been a picture of consistency, following Stewart with seven straight runner-up finishes, including tonight, he has surrendered three points a race over that span and now sits behind Stewart by the same deficit.
Stewart rocketed to the lead and the holeshot with Factory Yamaha’s Broc Hepler, of Kittanning, Pa., and Rockstar/Makita Suzuki’s Mike Alessi, of Victorville, Calif., in tow to start the AMA Supercross main event. The Yamaha rider never looked back as Reed tried to recover from a mid-pack start.
“The start was great,” said Stewart. “The San Manuel Yamaha pulled another holeshot. It was a good race for me. The track was tough but we came out on top. I’ve always liked the ‘ATL’ and I’m glad we could do well here. I want to thank all the fans and all the motivation they give me. It feels good to have the points lead but there is a long way to go.”
The defending champion would work his way through the field, passing Monster Energy Kawasaki’s Ryan Villopoto, of Poulsbo, Wash., for second just past halfway. The order would remain the same through the finish of the 20-lap main event.
“I just had to be patient,” stated Reed. “Not much I could do though. I got by Ryan (Villopoto), made a mistake, and got by him again. It was a tough race. I just needed to keep pushing and as the laps went on wait for a mistake (from Ryan). I want to thank all the guys on Rockstar/Makita Suzuki. The bike was awesome tonight.”
Monster Energy/Pro Circuit Kawasaki’s Austin Stroupe, of Lincolnton, N.C., led the AMA Supercross Lites field into the first turn after grabbing the holeshot. Pourcel and Rockstar/Makita Suzuki’s Nico Izzi, of Murrieta, Calif., followed in second and third. Stroupe quickly opened up a multi-second lead and appeared to be on his way to a dominating victory. However, just after crossing the finish to begin lap nine, the Kawasaki rider stalled his bike. Pourcel would assume the lead and carry it to the finish while Izzi and Muscle Milk/MDK/KTM’s Martin Davalos, of Cairo, Ga., rounded out the podium. Stroupe fell to seventh.
“It was very fast in the beginning so I just rode my pace,” explained Pourcel. “The track was difficult and a lot of riders were crashing so I just wanted to ride smart. I got my speed where I wanted it and Austin (Stroupe) stalled so I just built a big lead. Every week I’m thinking about the championship and two wins is a good way to start the season.”