AMA SX: Reed, Stewart clash in Anaheim

Josh Grant wins debut race

By Motorcycle.Com Staff, Jan. 05, 2009
The AMA Supercross season opener was billed as the matchup between reigning champion Chad Reed and his replacement with San Manuel Yamaha, James Stewart, but it was another Yamaha rider that claimed victory.

Josh Grant, of Joe Gibbs Racing Team, won in his first career AMA Supercross race, riding a Yamaha YZ450F in the Jan. 4 season opener at Angel Stadium in Anaheim, Calif.

Coming off a perfect 2008 AMA Motocross season, Stewart got off to a good start in Anaheim, picking up the holeshot with Grant in second and Reed third. Reed, who signed with Rockstar Makita Suzuki in the off-season, soon moved up to second and on lap two, passed Stewart for the lead.

Stewart regained the lead in lap six, but a few turns later, collided with Reed, sending both racers into the dirt. Reed was able to reenter the race, but Stewart’s bike was hit by Geico Powersports Honda’s Kevin Windham, ending his day. The collision allowed Grant to jump into the lead ahead of American Honda’s Andrew Short.

Josh Grant earns his first AMA Supercross win.Grant held onto the lead for the win despite getting a trackside banner caught in his rear wheel with two laps remaining in the 20-lap race.

“I just kept plugging away and I didn’t even look at the board or the lap times or how many laps were left. I just kept going and when it felt like halfway I looked up and it said ‘18 laps’ and I was like, ‘Thank God!’” says Grant. “I’m just so pumped, and I didn’t want to take too many chances with the banner in the wheel, so I just kept riding and it came through.”

Short finished 6.718 seconds behind Grant for second place, while Reed recovered from his collision to earn the final podium position.

“In the main event, I tried to put myself in a good position. I went to second place right away, and I felt like I had some better lines than the leader (Stewart),” says Reed. “When he made a mistake, I got by him and tried to put my head down but he got back by me. Then, I was getting ready to pass him back when I think he missed a gear and we both went flying. We bent the bike up pretty good and I lost the front brake so I’m pretty excited to be on the podium. It’s a shame that we crashed because I think we would have had a good battle. I felt like I had a win in me, for sure.”

James Stewart's first Supercross race since his championship 2007 season ended after six laps.Stewart confirmed that he missed a gear before the first collision.

“I got the holeshot and uncharacteristically I let him (Reed) go by. I was making a few mistakes in the beginning and I wasn’t really comfortable yet. He ended up getting by me and actually pulled away,” says Stewart. “I found my rhythm and came back up and he might have started fading a little bit – I don’t know what he was doing – but I went past him pretty quick and then I came into that corner and I missed a shift. Once I clicked back in, all I know is – just like Toronto in 2006 – I was getting hit from the rear. (Windham) took me out and I was down and out, and couldn’t start my bike again.”

Stewart will get another chance for victory soon as the second round of the AMA Supercross season will take place Jan. 10 in Phoenix, Ariz.