While Stewart is seeking his fourth win in four races and is feeling confident as the series rolls into the Bay Area, he’s taking nothing for granted in terms of this year’s title chase.
“Kawasaki has found some great settings on my bike and I’m riding really good right now,” Stewart said after winning Anaheim this past week. “It’s not like these races are a cakewalk though. Chad [Reed] is going to be tough and Ricky [Carmichael]. You never know, one of these privateers like Nick Wey or somebody might run up front out of the blue. My only goal right now is to put myself in a position to win the championship. As long as I keep putting in the work I don’t have a doubt in my mind that I can do it.”
Stewart’s winning the first three rounds is a rare feat. He’s the first to do it since San Francisco born Jeremy McGrath won the first three rounds in 1996 en route to winning the AMA Supercross title.
In San Francisco Stewart will face fellow Floridian Makita Suzuki’s Ricky Carmichael, the defending series champion who is racing a limited schedule this season as he winds down his motorcycle racing career and prepares for a transition to NASCAR. Carmichael is a two-time San Francisco Supercross winner and is hoping to halt Stewarts’ streak this weekend.
“San Francisco has been a good race for me and hopefully I can go there and put in a good performance,” said Carmichael, who watched last week’s race in Anaheim from the TV announcers’ booth. “James is riding really well right now and I’m going to have to be at my best to have a shot at the win.”
L&M Racing Yamaha rider Chad Reed is second in the standings, 13 points behind Stewart, coming into round four of the 16-race series. Reed began the series riding with an injured shoulder suffered in pre-season testing. The likable Australian said his condition is improving each week.
“I expect to practice a couple of times getting ready for San Francisco,” Reed said. “I’m getting better and I hope I’m able to turn it around. I have to be happy with where I am in the championship at this point. I’m going to fight to the end. A lot can happen.”
Stewart’s Monster Energy Kawasaki teammate Tim Ferry continues his strong comeback this season and is third in the standings. Ferry is looking to earn his first podium finish of the year in San Francisco.
Breaking through with a podium result in Anaheim last week was Nick Wey, of Xyience MDK Honda. He took third in Anaheim to become the first rider this season other than the ‘Big Three’ to score a podium. Wey hopes to build momentum in San Francisco where he scored a third-place finish last year.
“I can’t thank my team enough for giving me a bike that is getting crazy holeshots,” said Wey of his excellent starts. “I’m looking forward to doing well in San Francisco. I ran second in Anaheim, but wasn’t quite aggressive enough with lappers to hold off Chad. I want to continue to improve.”
Ryan Villopoto, of Monster Energy/Pro Circuit Kawasaki, opened up a 17-point lead over Jason Lawrence in the AMA Supercross Lites West class after winning his second race of the season in Anaheim this past Saturday. Villopoto’s teammate Christophe Pourcel, of France, injured his foot and is likely now to focus his attention on the upcoming Motocross World Championships, where he is a defending champ. That leaves Boost Mobile Yamaha’s Lawrence as Villopoto’s closest challenger in Lites West. Villopoto’s Kawasaki teammate Christopher Gosselaar stands third in the series.
“I was really upset that I didn’t win in Phoenix,” Villopoto said. “I was glad to get another victory in Anaheim and I’m going to San Francisco very focused on not making mistakes and putting myself in a position to get a winning streak going.”
The San Francisco Supercross will receive next-day network television coverage on CBS at noon on Sunday, Jan. 28.
AT&T Park gates will open at 12:30 pm for fans to take part in the San Francisco Supercross Pit Party. Tickets are available at the Box Office, all Ticketmaster outlets, Giants Dugout Stores, all participating Yamaha dealers or you can charge by phone at 800-225-2277. A special Family Section is also available for non-alcoholic family fun. When ordering tickets through Ticketmaster, request Family Section for an alcohol-free family atmosphere.