After a tumultuous year mired by injury and misfortune, former two time champion James Stewart and Team Yoshimura Suzuki broke through for their first victory together inside Atlanta’s Georgia Dome last weekend. The eighth race of the 2013 Monster Energy AMA Supercross, an FIM World Championship, produced the fifth different winner this season and now the parity-driven battle for the 450SX Class title fight makes its annual visit to St. Louis and the Edward Jones Dome on Saturday night for the ninth stop on the schedule. In addition to the star-studded field of the 450SX Class, the fastest up-and-coming riders of the Eastern Regional 250SX Class Championship will also be in action for their third race of the season.
Broadcast coverage of the 450SX Class can be seen this Sunday, March 3, on CBS Sports beginning at 12 Noon ET. Coverage of the 250SX Class can be seen later that afternoon at 2:30 p.m. ET on SPEED.
Stewart dominated en route to his first win of the year, ending a 14-race winless streak that dates back to Daytona of last season. Through the first seven weeks of the championship, 2013 was anything but memorable for the Suzuki rider. After suffering an injury to his knee in practice at the season opener in January, Stewart has been forced to ride through the pain associated with it, in addition to dealing with some hard luck on the track. Two weeks ago inside Cowboys Stadium, Stewart appeared to have returned to the level of performance that has made him one of the most successful riders of all time. However, a broken clutch prior to the Main Event ended his night before it really even began.
Despite experiencing arguably the most adversity of his hugely successful career, Stewart refused to quit despite not having the chance to challenge for the win or even the podium in some cases. On Saturday night, everything came together as Stewart secured the holeshot and led wire-to-wire for his 45th career 450SX Class win, going relatively unchallenged. It marked the ninth consecutive season in which Stewart has claimed at least one victory, joining the elite company of Jeremy McGrath and Chad Reed in this category. Additionally, Stewart’s maiden Monster Energy Supercross victory aboard a Suzuki is the third different brand he’s taken to the top of the podium, becoming the seventh different rider in history to achieve such a feat.
“I mean what can I say, we won tonight,” said Stewart. “It [means] a lot; this whole season has been crazy and to get a victory and to get a start, it was almost a perfect day. I was fastest in practice, fastest in the Heat Race, I got the holeshot in the Main Event, and led every lap. I’m not going to lie, I was a little nervous because I haven’t been out [front] in a while.”
With his win, Stewart moved to eighth in the 450SX Class standings and although he sits 74 points out of the championship lead, he will simply focus on winning for the remaining nine races.
Stewart joins Rockstar Energy Racing’s Davi Millsaps, Monster Energy Kawasaki’s Ryan Villopoto, Red Bull KTM’s Ryan Dungey, and Team Honda Muscle Milk’s Justin Barcia as winners this season. However, the championship battle has developed into a three-rider battle between Millsaps, Villopoto, and Dungey.
Millsaps has led the championship since claiming victory at the season opening race in January. Since then, he has extended his advantage over the field nearly every weekend, finishing on the podium in seven of the eight races this season, including a pair of wins. In Atlanta, Millsaps overcame a mid-pack start to once again finish on the podium in third in front of his hometown crowd. His lead in the championship currently sits at 22 points over Villopoto.
Villopoto, the reigning back-to-back champion, was the only rider to challenge Stewart inside the Georgia Dome. Following a strong start of his own, Villopoto asserted himself in second place and paced Stewart throughout the 20-lap Main Event. While he maintained a consistent gap, Villopoto was never in a position to challenge for the lead. However, with that performance he was able to move past Dungey in the standings to assume control of second. With the most wins this season at three, Villopoto has a chance to close the gap on Millsaps on Saturday night as the defending race winner in St. Louis.
Dungey was enjoying a four-race podium streak heading into Atlanta, which was the sight of success for the KTM rider in years past. However, after starting outside the top 10 in the Main Event, Dungey needed all 20 laps in order to battle his way into sixth. He dropped to 26 points behind Millsaps and is four points out of second behind Villopoto.
This trio of championship leaders will headline the highly-talented lineup of riders set to invade the Edward Jones Dome on Saturday night. While the five aforementioned winners this season look for continued success, Team Honda Muscle Milk’s Trey Canard and TwoTwo Motorsports Honda’s Chad Reed are still in search of their first wins this season.
During the 2012 stop at the Edward Jones Dome in front of a record crowd of 59,742, Monster Energy Kawasaki’s Ryan Villopoto broke Kawasaki’s 11-year losing streak in St. Louis by taking home his fifth win of the season.
The first two races of the Eastern Regional 250SX Class Championship has produced two different winners to start the season. One week after Monster Energy/Pro Circuit/Kawasaki’s Dean Wilson assumed control of the points lead with a win in the opening race, GEICO Honda’s Wil Hahn broke through for the first victory of his career inside the Georgia Dome.
Hahn compiled a perfect performance in the Main Event, capturing the holeshot and fending off Wilson throughout the 15-lap Main Event for a wire-to-wire victory. Following a third-place finish at the opening race, Hahn moved into second in the championship to within two points of Wilson.
“I put in a lot of hard work, and it paid off here tonight,” said Hahn, who became the 89th different winner in 250SX Class history. “I stayed positive out there and rode a smart race. It’s an amazing feeling to get my first win here at the Georgia Dome in front of so many fans. This has been a long time coming.”
Wilson’s strong runner-up effort still puts him in control of the championship. Red Bull KTM’s Marvin Musquin finished third last weekend, moving him into fourth in the standings, five points behind Rockstar Energy Racing’s Blake Wharton.
Last season’s Eastern Regional 250SX Class action inside the Edward Jones Dome resulted in the third consecutive win to start the 2012 season for eventual champion Justin Barcia. The former back-to-back Eastern Regional 250SX Class Champion is now a rookie in the 450SX Class. In three years, Barcia went undefeated inside the Edward Jones Dome. The last rider other than Barcia to win the 250SX Class in St. Louis was Wharton, who captured his first career victory as a rookie during the 2009 season.
The first 450SX Class race held in St. Louis was April 27, 1996, when Jeff Emig, a Missouri native, won for the first time on a Kawasaki and snapped a 13-race winning streak by Jeremy McGrath. Ricky Carmichael and Chad Reed are tied with the most wins inside the Edward Jones Dome at four each. For the past six seasons, six different winners have stood atop the 450SX Class podium, making St. Louis one of the most competitive venues in the championship. James Stewart, Chad Reed, Ricky Carmichael, and Kevin Windham have all won in St. Louis in both the 450SX Class and 250SX Class. A rider hasn’t won consecutive 450SX Class races since Reed did it in 2003 and 2004. Windham claimed the first 250SX Class victory in St. Louis back in 1996 aboard a Yamaha. GEICO Honda has captured the 250SX Class victory for the last five seasons.
Tickets are available at all Ticketmaster Outlets, charge by phone at (800) 745-3000, www.supercrossonline.com, or online at www.ticketmaster.com. Practice and qualifying begin at 12:30 p.m. and the main event starts at 7:00 p.m. Club tickets are $52, Gold Circle tickets are $40, 400 Lower Level Loge tickets are $28, Upper View Sideline tickets are $20, and Treadhead seats are $10. Fans can also get into the Pits for FREE from 12:30-6 p.m. race day when they recycle a MONSTER Energy Can at the stadium’s can redemption locations at either Plaza Central or Broadway Central (valid only with event ticket.
Supercross LIVE!® is back in 2013 with a three-hour mid-raceday program from 2:00 – 5:00 p.m. local time. Hosts, Jim Holley, a former World Supercross Champion, and Kevin Barnett, a former member of the U.S. Men’s Olympic Volleyball Team and professional broadcaster, will provide in-depth analysis of the afternoon’s practice and qualifying sessions as the riders and teams prepare for the night racing, in addition to interviews and behind-the-scenes coverage. As the only place to follow live practice and qualifying coverage from Monster Energy Supercross, Supercross LIVE! provides fans with an inside perspective before the gate drops on the night’s qualifying and Main Events. Additionally, there will be video snippets made available throughout the race day that can be viewed on the official website of Monster Energy Supercross, or the YouTube Channel.
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