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5 Minutes With... James Stewart

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After Anaheim I, there were a lot of questions. But after three more races, and three wins for San Manuel Yamaha’s James Stewart, it seems the questions have ceased. Stewart is killing it right now. Add to that his awesome lip-synching video to Bon Jovi’s “Wanted Dead or Alive” during opening ceremonies, and nobody had a better night in Houston than Stewart did.

  • James Stewart's opening-ceremonies bit was an instant classic. Just call him James Bon Jovi.
Racer X: There has been a lot of speculation in the last few weeks about your bike setup and these sorts of things, but you looked a lot better tonight than you have so far. Can you talk a little about that?
James Stewart: The bike was definitely better this weekend. I just felt more comfortable when we first got here, and we changed some stuff, and everything is coming along. I think it was definitely a better weekend for me, and I definitely felt much more comfortable on the motorcycle. We’re just going to try and keep on improving and see what happens.

That opening-ceremonies bit you did, with Bon Jovi’s “Wanted Dead or Alive”, was probably the funniest thing all year. Then, at the end of the video, you actually broke your Rock Band guitar on stage. What was that about?
To be honest, I know this sport is a show. Yeah, we race, and when we’re out there doing our 20 laps, it’s all business, but at some point, you’ve just got to let loose. I’ve been trying to do that, but the last few weeks, I’ve been struggling here and there and haven’t been in the greatest mood, honestly. But I wanted to show the fans a good time, and when they told me about this, I said, “Yeah, let’s do it! Let’s do something!” The crowd loved it, obviously, and it was fun.

Who came up with the song idea?
Wes [Nobles]. He does an awesome job doing this stuff, and when he told me about it, I was like, “Let’s do it!” So he made it happen.

When the lights turned on you, and those huge flames shot out of the front of the stage where you were, I saw you guys flinch. Did that scare you?
Yeah, it scared the crap out of me! You know how you barbecue and you put too much butane on the deal before you light it? I thought I burnt my eyebrows off! It shocked me! And then I was like, “Oh, we’ve got to perform!” Then we did it, and I broke the guitar. It was fun.

At the end of the night, Terry Boyd had your wig on. Did you give him permission to wear your now-famous wig?
I put it on him! He’s always saying how happy I am, so I was like, “I’m going to show you how happy I am. I’m going to put this wig on you.” It was cool, and people started laughing, so I thought it was awesome. [Laughs]

Back to the race: You had to pass Ryan Villopoto for the lead, and he actually passed you back in that tabletop section. Can you talk a little bit about racing him?
Yeah, I think I started maybe fourth or fifth, and I made a pass on Josh Hill and [Mike] Alessi in the same corner, the same way I passed Villopoto the first time – I dived on the inside [before the tabletops] – but they were a little further ahead, so I was able to close them off before they could cut back across. When I passed Villopoto, we were having fun, and I knew he was going to pass me right back – but I thought I’d just do it anyway. Then I got on those tabletops and got close to him in that next deal and made this thing turn. I turned down, passed him back, and just had to close him off at the end of the section there. It was fun.

Having three wins in a row now, do you feel like this is something you can just continue rolling off like this? You’re only nine points back now.
Being down 23 to being down nine in three weeks, I mean, obviously I can’t ask for anything better than that. But, hey, it’s still a long series, and I knew that when I fell. I didn’t give up. I’ve just got to try and keep improving during the week, and I think if I can do that, my times will get a little bit better, and hopefully I’ll win some more races.

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