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Kawasaki/Racer X Race and Banquet Report

With all the titles in Amp’d Mobile Supercross already sewn up, the series finale in Las Vegas’ Sam Boyd Stadium stood mainly as a celebration of the great year that was. And it was great, if your name is James Stewart. Once again the Monster Kawasaki rider showed untouchable skills by dominating all of the festivities, from super fast practice laps, to a pair of holeshots in both his heat race and the main event, and then a massive lead and 20 nearly-flawless laps to reel in his 13th of the season (in 16 tries on the AMA tour).

James Stewart made the hard stuff look easy in Vegas.
For Stewart, it was a celebration. He even pulled some old-school heel clickers, a no hander over the triple and then some sort of a heel-clicker nac-nac one hander combo on his victory lap after the race was complete. After the race, Stewart commented on how much better he rode now that the pressure of chasing his first AMA Supercross Championship was off. This does not bode well for his competition.

Once Stewart had the Progressive Direct Holeshot, it was all over. The much-hyped Vegas start featured a 240 foot run into a left-hand corner followed by a 560-foot straight into a left and right. It was challenging, but Stewart was up for it and wrestled the lead from San Manuel Yamaha’s Chad Reed by the time they got to the holeshot line. Reed stayed close for about two laps, but then Stewart started busting out incredible jump combinations with ease—he quaded four rollers after the second triple without strain, which Reed was only able to do with a seat bounce. Then he jumped a set of doubles in the center of the whoops and cleared the entire end of the section. Once he had that down it was over, Stewart pulled away and Reed became prey for Sobe No Fear/Samsung Honda’s Kevin Windham, who was on a charge from third.

Kevin Windham tracked Reed down but settled for third.
Windham kept closing and closing on Reed and then finally caught him in the whoops and made a pass. Reed dove back inside and took the spot back, and then seemed to up his pace and pull back away from Windham. Windham did hold on for third, his second podium finish in a row. A few other contenders had trouble, including Honda’s Davi Millsaps, who wadded it up in the whoops early in the race, and Yamaha’s Grant Langston, who did the same thing near the end of the race.

As far as close racing was concerned, the Windham/Reed tussle was all there was to see in the main, and that only lasted one lap.

Ryan Dungey did it again.
The fans would have been okay with that had they witnessed a great battle in the Dave Coombs Sr. Memorial East/West Lites Shootout, but unfortunately the battle there didn’t last long either. Ben Townley snared the Progressive Direct Holeshot wearing #1E on his Monster Energy/Pro Circuit/Kawasaki, but Makita Suzuki’s Ryan Dungey wasted no time, tripling past his fellow east coaster and taking the lead before they reached the second turn. Then Townley threw a chain and was out, which was strange enough in itself, but was made even stranger when his teammate and West Region Champion Ryan Villopoto crashed in the massive Thunder Alley sweeper turn and found himself up in last place. So, both champions were out of contention by the end of the second lap.

The shot at glory then came to Yamaha rookie Josh Hill. Surely Hill was bummed to see fellow rookie Dungey haul off with three wins this season, so Hill closed the gap on Dungey early and looked ready to challenge for the win. But he challenged too hard. Hill dove under Dungey and knocked him off the track with an ill-advised block pass attempt. He knocked himself down in the process, too, and that was all she wrote for the Yamaha rider.


Josh Hill tried and failed with this pass.
Somehow Dungey stayed up, got back on the track, and then fended off a challenge from Jake Weimer to hold onto the win, his fourth of the season and the biggest of his career, since he also collected a Toyota Tundra for his efforts. Weimer and Red Bull KTM’s Martin Davalos finished second and third.

The next night, at the supercross banquet, Dungey won the first-ever Supercross Golden Microphone Award as a prize for all the great work the young rookie has done with media and PR for the series. Other special awards included the Team Manager of the Year Award to Boost Mobile/Yamaha of Troy’s Chris McAvoy, and the Comeback of the Year Award to Andrew Short. Jeremy Albrecht won Mechanic of the Year, Wilson Sawtelle won Transport Driver of the Year, and Monster/Pro Circuit/Kawasaki won Team of the Year. Ricky Carmichael was there for a big speech and retrospective on his career, Townley, Villopoto and Dungey got their props, and then finally Stewart made it to the stage to accept his trophies and give a heartfelt speech about his parents, his friends, and finally winning the big one.

There wasn’t much close racing in Vegas, but both the banquet and the race served as a celebration for another big season for the sport.

 

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