AMA-SX: 2009 Las Vegas results

Championship decided by four points

By Motorcycle.Com Staff, May. 04, 2009
The 2009 AMA Supercross season featured aggressive racing, dramatic crashes, thrilling comebacks and controversial passing penalty, but the season will be remembered for the championship battle between San Manuel Yamahaís James Stewart and Rockstar Makita Suzukiís Chad Reed.

The two rivals were head and shoulders above the rest of the competition, and they traded the lead in the standings back and forth all season to set the stage for the May 2 finale at Sam Boyd Stadium in Las Vegas, Nev.

Stewart arrived in Vegas with a six-point lead in the standings while Reed was still fuming over Kyle Chisholmís blocking foul from the previous round that may have cost Reed the race.

ďWho can deny that it wasnít intentional,Ē says Reed. ďHis line, the fact that he was a lap down, and the obvious being he is Jamesí teammate. It was a shame. I donít believe Kyle (Chisholm) is a bad person. I donít know him personally, but Iíve heard heís a good kid. Itís weird that a good person should have to go through that. There is a paper trail a mile long of what (Larry Brooks) has done in the past. I find it to be quite amusing but I truly believe everyone in this room knows what really happened.Ē

The 20-lap main event began with Rockstar Makita Suzukiís Mike Alessi taking the holeshot with Stewart and Monster Energy Kawasakiís Ryan Villopoto on his tail. Reed, meanwhile, stumbled out of the gate and dropped back to seventh.

By the end of the first lap, Stewart had taken over the lead with Villopoto in second. Alessi was next and Reed had worked back into the mix. Villopoto overtook Stewart a lap later for the lead, while Reed moved up to third.

James Stewarts celebrates his 2009 AMA Supercross championship.Stewart needed either a podium finish or to stay within six points of Reed to win the championship, so he did not need to take any unnecessary risks. Instead, Stewart spent several laps trying to keep Reed at bay. Meanwhile, Reed did what he could to force Stewart into making a mistake.

Reed found an opportunity on lap 15 and made an aggressive move to pass Stewart. The two riders made contact but Stewart stayed sturdy. With Villopoto well out in front and the rest of the field far behind him, Stewart let Reed by and kept a steady pace right up to the end.

Villopoto crossed the finish first with Reed eight seconds behind. Stewart crossed 20 seconds later for third place, but more importantly, a 377-373 lead to win the AMA Supercross and FIM Supercross World Championship.

ďI might not have ridden the best tonight, but I did what I had to do, and Iím so happy,Ē says Stewart. ďItís so emotional. There is so much hard work that went into this, and honestly Iím exhausted right now because itís been the toughest year for me.Ē

Reed finished second in the standings as he had for most races this season. He was the most consistent rider all season, missing the podium only once. Reed had 12 runner-up finishes this season, with all except the finale coming in Stewart victories.

ďItís hard to swallow, to have to give up that one. I feel like I worked really hard for this championship and to be so close really hurts. We had a great year, we were consistently on the podium every weekend except at Seattle, where I made a mistake and crashed and was only able to come back to seventh. But I had fun this year, and thatís the main thing. Itís disappointing and itís hard, but at the end of the day I felt that we achieved big things this year so itís good.Ē

Stewart finished the year with 11 wins, the most in a season by a rider since Jeremy McGrath. Stewart needed each of those wins to make up for Reedís consistency and a disappointing 19th-place finish in the season opener.

ďEvery race this year, Iíve had to win, and thatís hard mentally. I donít think anybodyís ever been in a situation where they had to win every race. Chad has been on the podium 16 out of 17 races this year, so I had to win after Anaheim I, and then after Daytona. It pays off to have a great team, a great trainer, and a great supporting cast. Iím so happy.Ē

2009 AMA Supercross final top five standings
Pos. Rider Team Points
1st James Stewart San Manuel Yamaha 377
2nd Chad Reed Rockstar Makita Suzuki 33
3rd Andrew Short Honda Red Bull Racing 270
4th Josh Grant Joe Gibbs Racing 237
5th Kevin Windham Geico Powersports Honda 236