No one has ever won the Phoenix Supercross three times in a row in either class. However, coming into last night’s running of the event, San Manuel Yamaha’s James Stewart had won the last two in the 450cc class, as well as two in a row previously in his career in the Lites (125cc) class in 2002 and 2003.
Joe Gibbs Racing Yamaha’s Josh Grant actually grabbed the holeshot to start the main event, but was followed closely by Stewart and Rockstar/Makita Suzuki’s Chad Reed. Stewart got by Grant before the completion of the first lap and began to make a break for it while Reed tried to find a way past Grant. On lap three, Reed passed Grant through the whoops before the finish line and, although he had the outside into the next turn, Grant seemed to concede the position. By then, the top three had already established quite a margin over fourth-placed Ivan Tedesco of the Honda Red Bull Racing squad.
Although Stewart had stretched out a decent lead in the few laps he was out front with Grant between him and Reed, Reed began gaining on Stewart over the ensuing laps, and what transpired amounted to an accordion-effect race, where Stewart would pull away, only for Reed to catch up, before Stewart pulled away again. It all came to fruition on the final lap, when Reed was within striking distance and had the entire crowd of 46,566 people on its feet going into the track’s final two whoop sections, but Stewart managed to hold him off and become the first rider ever to win the Phoenix Supercross three years in a row.
Reed finished only .591 of a second behind Stewart – close enough that Stewart was unable to comfortably celebrate, even over the finish-line jump.
With a full 15 rounds left to run, Grant still leads the points standings, 45-42, over Reed, while Stewart sits seventh with 27 total points.
After both Rockstar/Makita Suzuki’s Ryan Dungey and Monster Energy/Pro Circuit Kawasaki’s Jake Weimer won their respective Heat races, and with GEICO Powersports Honda’s Trey Canard and defending Lites West champ Jason Lawrence failing to make the main, it seemed the stage was set for round two both in the literal and figurative sense. Literally, it’s round two of the series, and figuratively, it’s like round two in boxing, as Weimer and Dungey battled it out at Phoenix in 2008, where Weimer scored his only victory of the season after fighting off Dungey.
This time, Weimer had to fight off the advances of Dungey again early on, as Weimer got the holeshot, followed by Dungey, Canidae/Motosport Kawasaki’s PJ Larsen, Muscle Milk/MDK KTM’s Justin Brayton, Weimer’s teammate Ryan Morais, Troy Lee Honda’s Chris Blose, Frenchman Cedric Soubeyras, and the rest of the field.
Weimer set the fastest lap of the race in the early going while trying to make a break from Dungey and the rest of the field. However, Dungey seemed to have other plans, as he closed in on Weimer before, on lap seven of fifteen, Weimer went down in the track’s tricky sand chicane, handing the lead to Dungey and then getting up in fifth behind Blose, Morais and Brayton.
From there, Dungey had the win in the bag, while Weimer set out to move back through the front runners – who, by that point, were pretty spread out. First, Weimer got around Blose, and with the laps ticking away, he began to reel in his teammate Morais for a position with championship implications – if Weimer finished third in the race, and Dungey won, the two would be tied in the championship points standings.
However, Morais was confused as to what he should do, as he was pressuring Brayton, but by the last couple of laps, he had to worry about his teammate Weimer as well, so Morais couldn’t make a pass attempt on Brayton for fear of Weimer getting a wheel in on him, or maybe both of them. So that’s how they finished, with Dungey out front, ahead of Brayton, Morais, and Weimer only about a half a second behind. Then came Blose with his second top-five finish in as many weeks.
Dungey took over the points lead, but only three points separate the top three, as Dungey has 45 over Weimer’s 43 and Morais’ 42.
The next round is January 17th back at Angel Stadium in Anaheim, California.