450 Words: San DiegoTuesday, February 17, 2009 | 11:40 AM
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Wrong. The two fastest riders in the world rounded the first corner nearly side by side, and as always for the guys in second and third, chasing Mike Alessi and his #800 holeshot machine. Stewart made quick work of Alessi in the second corner, leaped the next rhythm section in what seemed like a single bound, and was gone. Reed had no problem getting around his teammate and into second, but showed none of the fire that we’ve come to expect from the lion-hearted Australian.
Stewart’s gap grew by a full second per lap, thanks almost completely thanks to a crazy line where he skimmed across the top of two tables that everyone else was jumping. Less than four-hundredths of a second kept Stewart away from a 45 second lap time, while only Reed and Josh Grant joined him in the sub-47 club. They were also the only other riders who tried Stewart’s line.
Chad Reed made no excuses, he just could not run James’ blistering pace. The Thunder from Down Under that was nearly deafening at the first few rounds has quieted drastically after six straight nights of domination by James Stewart and his apparently dialed-in #7 Yamaha. It’s no secret that confidence can be your best friend or your worst enemy, and at a time when Chad Reed’s is so low he’s digging in the dirt trying to find it, James is standing up on a ladder polishing his on a mantle after closing a huge gap in just 6 races.
But the story of 2009 isn’t over. In fact, it’s about to start anew. As we march toward the Ricky Carmichael-built Atlanta track for round 8, the points lead is tied at 152. We’re 7 rounds in and not a week closer to having a champion than we were before Anaheim 1.