Monday Conversation I: James Stewart

In his San Manuel Yamaha debut, James Stewart couldn’t have done a whole lot better. He won the Superpole event on both nights and both main events on his way to another U.S. Open Championship. Now heading into the real off-season, Stewart will be working to improve anything he can while the defending SX champ, Chad Reed, will be racing for much of the off-season back home in Australia. The stage is set for an epic AMA Supercross championship starting on January 3 in Anaheim.

Racer X: That’s a pretty potent Yamaha debut you just made...

James Stewart: Yeah, for sure. Coming out and winning both nights, and the first night I won it by pretty far, and then tonight I had to work for it, it makes me feel good. I like racing like that. The biggest thing I noticed is that I can change a lot of lines – I can go underneath and do all that. It was good. He started making mistakes, and when he made that big one, I was able to capitalize.

Last year, Chad Reed had a chance at the two-night Trifecta and the $250,000 that goes with it, but when going for the holeshot on the second night, he took out most of the top of the field. This year, you had the same scenario going, but you didn’t seem to try as hard for the holeshot once you came out a bit behind...
To be honest, Steve, I don’t care about the money. In the bigger picture, you win a lot more money winning a championship than this. I think that’s where guys go wrong. Obviously, if I had an elbow out there, I’d try and go in there, but I wouldn’t want to clean anybody out. Those guys did their best. When both of them lined up next to me, I was like, “Here we go.” I didn’t get the jump like I needed, but I’m stoked to come out with a win, and we learned a lot. I think we’re going to make huge improvements from here on out and then carry this to Anaheim.
You’re buddies, obviously, with Ryan Dungey, and last night off the line, you came across his front wheel and knocked him down in the first turn, which also ended up knocking Reed out of the race as Dungey’s bike knocked Reed’s rear brake out. Are you and Dungey still buds?

I just think it was a racing incident. He went wide, and I was creeping around the inside, but then Chad came up, and I gassed it, and then we ended up hitting. I think he was bummed out, obviously, and I’d be the same way. He was a little upset last night, but I told him I would never do that [intentionally]. We go back, so we’re totally cool now. I’m glad he got a podium up here, but I thought he was going to be a lot tougher today. This track’s set up for a 250F, and obviously for him pulling the holeshot last night – well, almost – those things are fast.

Were you nervous coming into this race with a new team and new bike and all of that?
Well, you always want to do good for the first time. I knew if I didn’t come in here and do good, to me it wouldn’t be a big deal, but other people might be asking if I should’ve made the switch and stuff. I know what this track is, though; it’s an Arenacross track, and to be fast on this track, and to be winning, it’s a good step. I’ve got four days on the bike, and I’m stoked. I think we’re going to be really good going into the future.

So what’s in store for the off-season?
Well, we’ve still got a lot of work to do. I’ve got a lot of time to figure this thing out, though, and San Manuel and everybody from Yamaha, they helped me out and they made it really easy to get on. There are no excuses and we’ve just got to make it happen.