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Kawasaki/Racer X Race Report

James Stewart's Hangtown win broke Ricky Carmichael's streak of 27 consecutive national overall wins,  dating back to 2003
The dramatic finish of Amp'd Mobile Supercross just two weeks ago was a tough act to follow, but Ricky Carmichael, James Stewart, and Chad Reed brought great drama and great racing to the Honda Hangtown Motocross Classic in Sacramento, California, the opening round of the Toyota AMA Motocross Championship.
 
Stewart emerged the winner, breaking Carmichael's unprecedented string of 27 outdoor national overall wins, a win streak that goes all the way back to mid-season 2003. (That was the year Windham won Washougal and Unadilla.) Mike Alessi dominated the Lites class, going 1-1 for the day with only a challenge from Ryan Villopoto in the first moto. It was Alessi's 18th birthday weekend as well, and he signed on with KTM for another three years.
 
Carmichael looked like he had the racing under control in the beginning with a moto-1 holeshot, but as he went through the second turn, he lost his front end and tumbled. That mistake put him back to 40th and kicking his bike, while Reed took off, leading Reynard and Vuillemin. Soon after, Reed went off the track, handing Reynard a few laps of glory. Stewart took his turn on the ground as well. It seemed no one wanted to win this one.
 
RC charged through the pack at an incredible rate and caught Stewart, who was busy making up for his own error. The two had a great battle for several laps, with Stewart ahead most of the time. While this was going on, Reed was way ahead. RC made a few passes, but Stewart would respond and pass him back and eventually got away and started gaining on Reed.
 
This mistake by RC put him back to 40th on the first lap of the first moto
With the crowd on its feet, Stewart caught and passed Reed on the very last lap for the win. As it would turn out, that pass was critical to get the overall. The finish was Stewart, Reed, Carmichael, and leading "the rest" was Vuillemin.
 
The second moto was RC's chance to make up for what he called a "rookie mistake." He could win the moto, but a Stewart second-place finish would still give him the overall. RC simply laid the wood down for the opening laps, with laps times on his pitboard that showed he was pulling away at a rate of two or three seconds per lap. RC cruised for the moto win far ahead of Stewart, then looked down at his leg at a cut that would need stitches at the Asterisk Medical Center.

Stewart broke a win streak that lasted two and a half seasons. To make the day even more cool, Bob Hannah was on hand to celebrate his first national win at Hangtown, 30 years ago to the day. He took his wife, Terri, a big Stewart fan, into the Kawasaki truck to say hi and introduce them.
 
Yamaha of Troy teammates Brett Metcalfe (#123) and Andrew McFarlane (#124) joined winner Mike Alessi on the 250F podium
Mike Alessi had his best day so far as a professional, with a solid 1-1 win in the 250F class. He held off a motivated charge from Ryan Villopoto in moto 1 and checked out for moto 2. Finishing the podium were Yamaha of Troy's Australian wing, Andrew McFarlane and Brett Metcalfe.
 
Grant Langston tried to ride with an injured wrist but DNF'd moto one.
 
Attendance was really good despite the rain. The Dirt Diggers trucked in 2,000 tons of sand, which helped a lot, and Dirt Werx pitched in as well. Some good changes this year: better, flexible track markers, more room around the tracks for the medical crews, and much better pit areas. Its going to be a great summer!

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