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5 Minutes With... James Stewart

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San Manuel Yamaha’s James Stewart won seven races in a row coming into Indy last Saturday night, taking the points lead in the process, coming from an 18-point deficit. But, having never won more than seven in a row, he kept that record together by finishing second to Chad Reed. We talked to him after the race.

Racer X: Early on in the race, when you were trying to chase down Chad Reed, you went down. Were you pushing too hard to catch him, which caused you to fall?
James Stewart: No, I almost fell there in practice. I just came through and lost the front end, and it definitely wasn’t that I was riding over my head at all. I just made a small bobble and went down.

At this point, Reed’s kind of the underdog, since you’d won so many races in a row coming into tonight. But when you were coming back through, did you hear the crowd?
I think they cheered because they want a race, and trust me, that guy’s not the underdog. If I had the number-one plate, it’d be different. Like I said before, I don’t believe in momentum, and every week, we come here and try hard, and he’s racing the best that he can – and I am, too. I don’t believe that he’s the underdog. He won fair and square, and for my part, I did everything possible to let him win the race. But he rode awesome tonight.

At one point, there were three Honda lappers (Andrew Short, Heath Voss and Matt Boni) between you guys, and you came into the turn after the dragonback and skated both wheels into the corner. It looked sketchy.
It definitely was, but I knew there was one line from there to the finish line, and I had to make that pass. Those guys got out of the way, so I can’t be mad at them. I saw Chad, and he was in front of them, and I was like, “Dude, I’ve got to get to him right now.” Short moved out of the way, which was cool, and so did Heath, so it was good. I had to make it happen, and I did. I just made it happen too many times [laughs] and fell too many times.

That move put you right back on Reed, which eventually led to the pass before you fell the second time, so was that one of those situations where you were willing to take more risks because you were coming from behind?
If I was in the lead, I would’ve done that same thing. It was definitely one of those races where I saw where he was, and I wanted to capitalize right then. I didn’t want to ride around with him. When I got out front, I made a couple mistakes, and he was able to stay there, which kind of made me change my lines a little bit. But like I said, hat’s off to the guy. He deserves a win, and he got it tonight. Everything goes to him.

Can you talk about the whoops?
Yeah, feet were off, and the right arm was down, just pinning it [laughs]. I don’t care. Whatever it takes to win. I ride hard, and I think that’s why the fans appreciate it. If I didn’t ride hard, I would’ve never caught him, and for me, I can take that home. As many times as I caught him, I feel good.

You said before when we talked that you’d die trying to beat anyone. Going through the whoops a few times, that’s what it looked like, too.
That’s why I train hard, so I can ride like that. I don’t care. I want to do whatever it takes to win, and sometimes I make mistakes, but I can tell you right now that those mistakes weren’t from riding over my head. At the end of the day, this was for the championship, and I knew that if I got a win tonight, it would be good, but it’s all good. Going into Daytona, I just have to keep working hard and see where we end up in Vegas.

Finally, I understand you have a new sponsorship in Nike. Can you talk about that?
Nike’s the best company out there, honestly, and if they’re going to be involved in the sport, and for me to be a part of that, it’s just great. With switching to Answer, and then bringing in Nike, that’s all I really wanted in the long run. I think it’s a great partnership. We’ll be doing some really cool things, and it should work out great.

How did it come about?
Just having some opportunities to do some different things. When we made the change, I thought this was going to be a great opportunity to brand myself with Nike, and everybody’s trying to be like Nike, so to be with the best company out there is just great.
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