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450 Words: New Orleans

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The 450 main event in New Orleans was a case of the hads. James Stewart, if he wanted to win the 2009 supercross title, had to win the race. Chad Reed had the points lead but he had to at least get second place. If he wanted to win, he had to pressure James into hopefully making a mistake because by the earlier practice times, James had the Suzuki rider covered. When it came to the main event, the two combatants had the first two gate picks because of each winning their heat. Judging by his pick a little on the outside, James thought he could sweep the left hand first turn and then be on the inside for the second turn. Chad was on the inside and his reasoning was that he could control the inside of the first turn and determine where everybody else had to go. It’s not very often that you see the riders with the first two gate choices start six gates apart, but that’s what happened.

In a flash, the gate dropped and the racers went careening into the first turn. Stewart’s pick proved to be the better one as he controlled the turn, with Reed tucked right in behind. Of course, there was still the 800 on the right of James, but he could start in row four and still be a player in the first turn. Stewart’s plan worked perfectly except for one problem: because he was now tight to the second turn, he could not jump the first double. He would have to roll, double and roll the last one before the third turn.  However, his nemesis Reed, who just might have thought about this exact scenario being played out, was now on the outside of James and able to double/double the section and would control the next turn. This was it, something had to happen right here.

What did happen, no doubt to Reed’s dismay, was James simply reaching down and jumping something that no one had done all day. Stewart knew that Reed would have him, it was a simple speed equation really, Reed had more speed and momentum from going outside and something had to be done if James wanted to stay in the lead. He rolled and then tripled out. It was a split-second decision but needed to be done to stay in the front, and so what if no one had done it all day?

With that triple behind him, James still managed to stay somewhat inside in the third turn and that was it. The battle for the lead, and the race, was over. Moments like these are what great races are all about.
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