450 Words: Anaheim II

January 20, 2009 5:29pm | by:
  • The fans got a great start when neither favorite found the front of this pack off the start
  • Stewart's got two in a row, but Reed now holds the points lead
In a race thick with both talent and rivalries, the biggest winner is usually the fans. That was the case on Saturday night in Anaheim, where every rider in the top 10 of the AMA Supercross class is a past winner of an SX main or outdoor national – when’s the last time that happened?

The 2009 Monster Energy Supercross season has over-delivered so far. We’ve had three exciting main events in three weekends, we’ve had bigger crowds than most expected, and we’ve got a real rivalry on our hands between defending champ Chad Reed and former champ James Stewart—two guys who might not like spending afternoons together, but sure seem to enjoy battling each other on Saturday night.

I will admit here that after seeing Stewart on Chad’s old bike in Las Vegas for the U.S. Open and in France for the Bercy SX, I would not have been surprised to see James dominate SX the same way he dominated MX last summer. I was worried that we might see (and hear on the webcasts) runaways every Saturday night as Stewart rode away from everyone. Just a couple of laps into the opener, it was obvious that wasn’t going to happen. Thank God.

Actually, on second thought, we should maybe thank Chad Reed. In the first 60 laps of this series, it’s become apparent that he is more than up for the challenge. He was so close to James at A1 that he rear-ended him when James missed a shift, and then he shadowed him throughout the Phoenix main. At Anaheim 2, Reed got knocked down in the first turn, and then charged back on a track that seemed difficult to pass on to finish right behind Stewart again. Who knew that winning a championship and being spurned by your team would be such a great motivator?

Of course James has done everything right since that A1 crash, taking two wins to none-so-far for Reed. He also had to climb through the pack on Saturday, though he had maybe half as many riders to pass as Reed did once he got up. Both of these guys are trying to manage their championship aspirations, and so far, so good for everyone watching.

{LINKS}Here’s the thing: Right now Reed has the points lead, but Stewart has pulled back six of the 18 points he lost when they collided on opening night. Given the way they’ve ridden each of the last two races, momentum in this series is still up for grabs. Whichever of the two wins this Saturday night in Houston’s Reliant Stadium – and it could be neither of them if the cards played right again for Josh Grant or maybe Kevin Windham, or Villopoto or (finally!) Short – will likely be the one to grab the steering wheel in this series.

My pick? The fans.