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 Yamahas James Stewart and Rockstar Makita Suzukis 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 Chisholms blocking foul from the previous round that may have cost Reed the race.

Who can deny that it wasnt intentional, says Reed. His line, the fact that he was a lap down, and the obvious being he is James teammate. It was a shame. I dont believe Kyle (Chisholm) is a bad person. I dont know him personally, but Ive heard hes a good kid. Its 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.

The 20-lap main event began with Rockstar Makita Suzukis Mike Alessi taking the holeshot with Stewart and Monster Energy Kawasakis 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.

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

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.

Its 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 thats the main thing. Its disappointing and its hard, but at the end of the day I felt that we achieved big things this year so its good.

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 Reeds consistency and a disappointing 19th-place finish in the season opener.

Every race this year, Ive had to win, and thats hard mentally. I dont think anybodys 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. Im so happy.

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