450 Words: Indianapolis

March 3, 2009 5:00pm | by:

There were 61,003 winners in Indianapolis. Sure, it would be easy to point at the man who won a thrilling race—Chad Reed—as the only real winner, or even look at the 61,000 fans who packed Lucas Oil Stadium for its first-ever Monster Energy AMA Supercross for a fantastic main event as the winners. But all three riders on the 450 podium—Reed, James Stewart and Mike Alessi—did things last weekend that they can be proud of, and every one of the fans in that building seemed thrilled to witness it.

  • We all wondered if this double would be possible on the first lap.
  • These guys enjoyed the race just as much as the fans
Reed, of course, finally earned himself a win on the Rockstar/Makita Suzuki after seven straight weeks of following his nemesis Stewart past the checkered flag. Reed didn’t look his best in practice or the heat race, and I’m sure I wasn’t alone in thinking he had a better chance of getting third than he did of winning, but when the gate dropped, #1 rocketed out of the start like he was #800, just edging out Alessi and Stewart for the holeshot. Then he showed them he really meant business when he pulled the trigger on the long double coming out of the turn that no one else jumped off the start. It was almost a leap of faith, because had he missed, as you can see in Carl Stone’s fantastic picture here, he might have become the welcome mat for 19 other guys.

Stewart may or may not have been phased by Reed’s risky move, but he did fall a couple of laps later. He gathered himself up, got rolling again, and started reeling Chad in. Within a dozen laps he had a hook in him, then he pulled the trigger and made the pass….

Then he fell again! This time James caught his front brake on the Tough Block right before the finish, just as Chad began to apply pressure of his own. Stewart got up off the canvas again, and rather than panic or ride out of control, he started putting down excellent laps to get close to Reed again, only to run out of time. And even though he had to have known he threw this one away—twice—Stewart was beaming afterwards. It was obvious he was taking this rare negative as a positive, even if the points are now tied again. That’s what champions always seem to do: minimize their own mistakes.

{LINKS}As for Mike Alessi, I can’t be the only person that expected him to have won a Supercross long before this point in his career—let alone reach the podium. The going indoors has been tough on Mike, and so has growing from amateur minicycle legend to professional competitor. His dad Tony has been a constant presence in this kid’s life from the moment he started racing. On Saturday night, for the first time ever, Tony wasn’t there, for whatever reason, and Mike did just fine on his own. When it was over, the young man couldn’t thank his father enough for all he had done for him over the years.

Wow, maybe there were 61,004 winners on Saturday night.