After night one, where the race was basically over before it started, it was easy to expect better racing tonight, and the MGM Grand Garden Arena crowd didn’t walk away disappointed. There were a few interesting plots ready to unfold on night two of the Rockstar Energy Drink U.S. Open, but the main one was James Stewart’s quest to win the first-ever Trifecta and the $250,000 that went with it. All he had to do was win the Superpole, nail the main event holeshot and win the main event for the second night in a row. He made it look easy on Friday night, but we all understand that there’s no sure bet in Vegas.
The eight fastest riders from practice lined up for the Superpole, and similar to last night, it came down to Reed and Stewart, with James getting the nod to claim another $10,000 and move one step closer to the $250,000.
The night went on, with Jessy Nelson taking the 85cc Invitational win and Damon Bradshaw checking out in the three-lap Legends Rematch race, but anticipation was building for the grand finale – the 20-lap main event.
Rockstar/Makita Suzuki’s Ryan Dungey, one of the fastest riders (who chose to ride a 250F) had the inside gate, with James Stewart next to him. It seemed to take an eternity for the gate to drop after the card went sideways, but when it did it was the number eight of Reed getting to the holeshot line first, ending James Stewart’s run at the Trifecta. Stewart tucked to the inside, but he just didn’t have the jump and came into the whoops in fourth behind Reed, Yamaha’s Broc Hepler and Honda Red Bull Racing’s Ivan Tedesco.
It took a couple laps for Stewart to get into second, and by this time Reed had already stretched out a pretty comfortable margin of maybe three or four seconds. As the scoring tree clicked from lap four to five, the running order was Reed, Stewart, Hepler, Tedesco, Short, Dungey, Byrne and Reardon.
Before the race hit the halfway mark, we saw Andrew Short make some aggressive passes to get up to third, with Ryan Dungey trying his best to follow him through, and James Stewart steadily closed the gap on Reed by being the only rider to go triple-triple through a tricky rhythm section, which saw riders doing everything from double-triple-single to double-double-double.
On lap 15, Stewart triple-tripled up alongside Reed and tucked inside, showing the defending AMA Supercross Champion a wheel. They came close to touching, but Reed held the inside in the following left-hander, forcing Stewart to chop the throttle.
It appeared that Stewart was going to have to get aggressive, as there were less than four laps left, but before he could set anything up, Chad Reed made a crucial mistake in that same tricky rhythm section, landed off the track on a Tuff Block and was ejected off of his RM-Z450. Stewart inherited the lead and the victory, becoming $100,000 richer in the process.
“I thought I was riding pretty smooth, but then I just grabbed a handful and went off the side of the track and landed on a Tuff block,” said a disappointed Reed on the podium. “The track was tight, and he was doing this triple-triple every lap, and he was going for it.”
Coupling a quiet fifth place finish tonight with his runner-up from last night, Honda Red Bull Racing’s Ivan Tedesco scored a second overall on the weekend.
“Tonight, I struggled a little bit,” he said on the podium. “The track was gnarly and slick, but I’m happy for the overall and to get the ball rolling for Anaheim. I just need to have an injury-free off-season so I can come out swinging.”
Rounding out the podium with 5-4 finishes was Rockstar/Makita Suzuki’s Ryan Dungey, who was running his new career number 10. Rounding out the top five was Andrew Short (12-2) and Justin Brayton (4-9).