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450 Words: Anaheim I

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  • It was a dream come true for Grant and JGR
  • Going into round 2, Stewart already has 19 points to make up on his rival
On Friday night I was up in Anaheim Hills at a friend’s house – six guys hanging out, talking supercross, picking our respective podiums, plus a dark horse. I am proud to say that I am now $60 richer because my top three were, in order, Josh Grant, Andrew Short and Chad Reed.

Okay, I am lying. I had JBS, Reed and I can’t even remember who for third. The truth to the matter is that not one person picked Josh Grant as even their dark horse, let alone the Anaheim One winner. And only one of our betters included Andrew Short in his four choices, likely in part because he happens to be an injured teammate of Andrew Short from the Honda Red Bull Racing team…

Josh Grant winning the opening round of the 2009 Monster Energy Supercross Championship is the most unlikely result for one of these races since Sebastien Tortelli rode past the stalled Yamaha of Doug Henry win to the ’98 opener in the Los Angeles Coliseum. The Joe Gibbs Racing MX Yamaha rider crafted a steady 20-lap effort that saw him take advantage of the all-too predictable tangle between Stewart and Reed, which was something another man in our betting pool (a certain former rival of both who was recently shown giving his new Suzuki friend chase around a Florida practice track) actually predicted would happen – though he did guess that it would take place “sometime in January” and not specifically “lap eight tomorrow night.”

What were those guys thinking? Have two title favorites ever banged and dropped that early in a title chase? The crowd certainly didn’t mind as the place erupted in shock first at the crash, then again when it became apparent that the heavy favorite Stewart was not going to get his bike restarted. Walking off, waving to the crowd and then throwing his helmet only added to the theater of the absurd that was taking place on the floor of Angel Stadium. I would have loved to hear Weege and Holley describe that one, er, well, type out loud about it.

{LINKS}After the race, as things calmed down in the parking lot, there was a poignant moment that only a few might have seen. Coy Gibbs, the stunned owner of the North Carolina-based team, stepped away from all the well-wishers and out the back door of his team rig to find Jeremy McGrath standing in the shadows, wanting to shake the man’s hand.  McGrath, the winner of 72 of these races, was as shocked as anyone else – he even admitted holding his breath for Team Gibbs when Grant clipped a haybale and started smoking his brakes at the very end of his unlikely race to the checkers – and just wanted to let Gibbs know he was happy for him and his team.

And now it’s on to Phoenix and another round of betting. I doubt anyone will pick #33 to win again, though everyone now has a new dark horse to consider. Oh yeah, and Chad Reed has a 18-point lead to work with.    

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