San Manuel Yamaha’s Stewart won for the fourth time this season, but the St. Louis victory was just his first in more than two months, his previous victory coming in the Feb. 5 Anaheim II round. Stewart had struggled in recent races as early crashes forced him to play catch-up with race leaders, while away from the track, Stewart faces charges of impersonating a police officer in Florida.
At St. Louis however, Stewart had a nearly flawless race, taking the lead for good on the second lap after passing holeshot winner Ivan Tedesco of Hart & Huntington/Dodge Motorsports Kawasaki. Once out in front, Stewart was uncatchable, winning by just over 3 seconds.
The win appeared to lift a great weight off Stewart’s shoulders, as the two-time AMA Supercross Champion shed tears in a post-race interview.
“Man, I was more emotional there than winning the championship. For me, it was just everything,” says Stewart. “I guess the last eight weeks just started coming out of me and I just couldn’t hold it in. I was trying to. It was just special. When you can’t do right on or off the track, having my sponsors say, ‘we still stick behind you even after some losses,’ and the fans still cheering and all that; I just think it was special. And, for me, it was super-emotional.”
Defending Champion Ryan Dungey of Rockstar Makita Suzuki finished second, holding that position for most of the race after passing Tedesco on lap three. Dungey finished eight seconds ahead of points leader Villopoto, cutting two points off the Monster Energy Kawasaki rider’s lead.
“I got another good start, which put me in second. I got passed and put into third but was able to get back to second in the next lap,” says Dungey. “I’m really thankful for a second on the night. I’m focusing on just being really consistent and smart. A big thanks to my Rockstar Makita Suzuki team and the Yoshimura guys.”
TwoTwo Motorsports’ Chad Reed had a strong start and was chasing Dungey for second when he made a mistake on a landing on lap eight. The error cost him some speed and allowed VIllopoto to pass him for third. Reed wasn’t able to catch the front-runners and settled for a fourth-place finish.
Trey Canard, another one of the title contenders, had a bad start, running 15th after the opening lap. The American Honda racer tried to overcome the poor start by advancing through the field to finish fifth.
With the top five series points leaders also finishing first through fifth in St. Louis, the race for the 2011 championship remains tight. Villopoto remains in the lead with 275 points while Dungey passed Reed to sit in second with 270 points. Reed drops down to third with 267 points while Stewart’s victory pushes him into fourth with 259 points, ahead of Canard in fifth at 255.
The 2011 AMA Supercross season heads back west for its final three races, beginning with April 16 round at Qwest Field in Seattle, Wash.