450 Words: Freestone

June 9, 2008 10:44am
The one-man storm that is James Stewart once again devastated the field at the 2008 AMA Toyota Motocross Championships, presented by FMF, though this time the Monster Energy/Kawasaki rider had to dig a little deeper than he has in the first two rounds of the series, where he won both overalls, all four motos and led all 62 laps. First James followed the up-for-the-challenge Mike Alessi of the Rockstar/Makita Suzuki team for a lap in the first moto before making the pass, but then he crashed when his wheels went out from under him in a slick sweeper. Stewart regrouped and came back through from fourth, passing Davi Millsaps with a mind-boggling attempt to double-jump something that was never meant to be jumped. Then he ran Alessi down to pass the most difficult test he’s had this summer.
The second moto would provide a different test all together. As the heat pushed the thermometer to 104 on the wall of the announcer’s tower, Stewart and the rest of the 450 class would take off into a furnace. With fans hanging on fences in the baking infield, Stewart again let Alessi lead for a couple of laps before turning up the thermostat himself and then riding off to another moto win. Stewart played it smart too, easing his way around the circuit in manageable speed, seemingly having adjusted his game to a new strategy: Winning by 30 seconds doesn’t get you any more points than winning  by 15 seconds.
And hats off to Mike Alessi, who overcame a week in Roger DeCoster’s doghouse after getting called on the carpet after Hangtown’s two bad starts left him floundering on what should have been one of his best tracks. Alessi did his homework all right, though he did say in the press conference that he has no idea as to how to find more speed to beat #7. (And props to Jeff Alessi, who came through as top privateer in Texas with some help from the Moto XXX Hooters crew; the brothers’ Alessi went 2-7 in the second moto to edge the brothers Hahn, as Tommy and Wilbur were a solid 5-6 in the second Lites moto).
Beyond that, the three Honda Red Bull guys (Ben Townley scratched with the injuries he compounded at Hangtown) were all struggling to find their rhythm. Davi Millsaps rode fast early, then seemed to wilt in the middle of each moto, only to wick it up again at the end. Andrew Short gave it all he had, but like a lot of his competitors, the heat seemed to throw him off his game, yet he still finished third overall. And Ivan Tedesco’s crash while holding fourth in the second moto was downright ugly.
Two guys who quietly deserve a nod are Monster Energy/Kawasaki’s Tim Ferry, who charged from 36th to 7th in the first moto to earn the RC Hard Charger award for his determination, then followed it up with another solid charge in the second moto, and the veteran Robbie Reynard, who came down with his family from Oklahoma and rode to a solid 13th overall with 16-10 moto finishes. Not bad for an old pro like RR!