Grant Wins Opening Supercross Round

{LINKS}HUNTERSVILLE, N.C. – Saturday, January 3, 2009 was a night of firsts for Joe Gibbs Racing, Motocross (operating as the JGRMX Toyota/Yamaha Team).  Angel Stadium in Anaheim, Calif. was the setting for the first round of the AMA Supercross Series, an FIM World Championship.  In spite of some rain early in the evening, 42,309 fans were on hand to watch the opener and the event was televised live to millions on SPEED. 

Josh Grant, contesting the AMA Supercross Series in the premier class for the first time, won the race.  Grant’s win gave both he and the JGRMX Toyota/Yamaha Team their first Supercross victories.  Grant’s YZ450F propelled the rookie to a great start as he rounded turn one in second behind former Supercross and current Motocross Champion James Stewart and just in front of the reigning Supercross Champion, Chad Reed.  A short time later, the veteran Reed passed Grant and Grant settled into a podium position behind the dueling champions as the three of them started to distance themselves from the field. 

On lap six of 20, Reed and Stewart collided and went down, allowing Grant to take the lead.  By lap 18, Grant had stretched his lead to about 14 seconds over Andrew Short and seemed to have the race well in hand when a near disaster struck.  As he began to lap slower riders, Grant was forced to alter some of his lines and ended up snagging a vinyl cover off a course marker that lodged in his rear wheel.  As the cover wrapped itself around his brake rotor, Grant was nearly pitched off his bike several times as he defiantly fought to maintain his lead with under two laps to go.  With the cover tangled and smoking around his wheel, Grant’s lead was cut in half from the previous lap and the charging Short closed the gap to under seven seconds before Grant crossed the finish line victorious.

When asked to describe the race, Grant commented, “I got a really good start, and just set into a pace behind James and Chad, when those guys got together and went down I just told myself to be consistent.  I knew I was in shape and could ride the 20 laps, I just wanted to be smooth.”  On the course cover he said, “I didn’t know what was happening, I just knew the bike went from being awesome to trying to lock up, I decided I was going for it no matter what, I just tried not to jump some of the bigger stuff because of the drag.  I only learned what was causing the problem when I pulled up on the podium and saw the banner in the wheel.”  About his thoughts going into next weekend’s race, “I am keeping the same mindset, putting in the work and staying with my same goals.  It’s a long series and I want to be in the top five every weekend.  If I can go out with some of those top guys and have some good races that’s what I am looking for.”  

“Grant’s win was one of the most emotional I have ever been involved in,” said Jeremy Albrecht, team manager.  “I was really happy to see all the hard work the entire team has put in produce a win so early on.  Everyone on the team earned this.  Josh made a big commitment moving here and changing his entire program.  This win validates everything we have been doing.”

“I am relieved to get our first win,” said Coy Gibbs, the team’s founder.  “Josh has really stepped up and worked hard back in North Carolina and he deserves it.  We are continuing to steadily move our program forward and our strategy is starting to come together.  I am proud of Josh, Jeremy, and everyone on the team.”

The last five minutes of the race can be seen on on the following link:    

The next round of the series will be on Saturday, January 10, at Chase Field in Phoenix, Ariz.  Television coverage of the Supercross Class will be at 6:00 p.m. (EST) January 11, on SPEED.