Ronnie Stewart was the only Pennsylvania rider entered against 50 others from all over the world Saturday February 22, 2014 at the Atlanta Georgia Dome for round 8 of 17 of the Monster Energy AMA Supercross FIM World Championship series. Ronnie has been following this tour from round 1 in Anaheim, CA and has yet to make a main event.
The Atlanta round was the closest he has gotten this year when he finished semi 2 in sixth place after running 3rd early on the first lap. The top 5 that qualified ahead of 606 Ronnie Stewart were 800 Mike Alessi, 11 Kyle Chisholm, 75 Josh Hill, 68 Chris Blose and 9 Ivan Tedsco with Ronnie's fastest lap being only 1.412 seconds slower than Ivan's.
The good but not quite good enough semi 2 qualifier results were reach from a series of challenges for Ronnie Stewart from earlier in the day. Especially the daytime timed qualifying practices where he broke a chain and had to push his bike back to the pits to install a new one. Luckily Stewart already posted the 3rd fastest lap of the session before this incident which put him 23 fastest overall and on the gate for Heat 2 of the night program.
The challenges Stewart faced in his heat race were ones to be expected. The biggest being that only 4 out of 22 riders go directly to the points earning main event. This made it especially difficult since Ronnie was lined up with riders like eventual heat race winner 7 James Stewart as well as 23 Will Hahn, 3 Eli Tomac and 40 Weston Peick who finished 2nd, 3rd and 4th behind James. Ronnie Stewart didn't cross the line until 11th with a fastest lap time 2.486 seconds slower than 4th place Weston Peick. Even these seemingly bad results weren't really that bad because they gave Ronnie a good gate pick for his semi qualifier that lead to the good start and eventual 6th place finish. Those results gave him 2nd gate pick in the LCQ (last chance qualifier) where 4 more rider transfer to the 450 main event.
Sadly for Ronnie Stewart and his fans at the Georgia Dome his good gate pick in the LCQ did not lead to a holeshot or even a 3rd place start like he had in his semi. It only led to a top ten start and eventually crash which caused him to nurse himself across the finish line in 21st.
On the bright side Ronnie was not seriously hurt and has 9 more supercross rounds to make a main event. So if his Atlanta results are a true indication of how close he is to making one of these it will not be surprising if Ronnie Stewart makes more than one main event before this season is over.
Be sure to watch the Indianapolis SX live tonight March 1, 2014 on Fox Sports 1 starting a 7:30 pm. Maybe you'll catch Ronnie Stewart making his first SX main event.