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Monday Conversation II: James Stewart

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San Manuel Yamaha’s James Stewart has had some tough races lately, but on a track where things easily could’ve gone horribly wrong in Toronto, he hung on and took a convincing victory. We talked to him after the race.

Racer X: With this win, and surviving a track like this, does this feel a bit like a load off your shoulders?
James Stewart: Dude, honestly, the load never comes off. It’s been on – especially when you listen to Erv [Braun, the supercross live announcer]. [Laughs] He’ll talk you into stuff where it’s like, “I’m about to freak out out there!” But it was a good weekend.

What did he say?
I don’t know, he was going on about the first practice. He ran 54s and I ran 55s, and then in the second practice, we were both in the 51s, and then Erv was saying something about times counting from one practice and not the other, and that someone had to talk to the AMA, and I was like, “This isn’t even an AMA race, guy...” But it was all good. I love Erv. He’s cool.

Last week or the week before, he mentioned during daytime practice that Section 142 was going to get free Jack In The Box food during the night show, then they had Kevin Windham pull a section number out of a box later, and lo and behold, he pulled section 142 out of the box...
He’s been here for a long time. I think he’s just on auto-repeat and he just goes, [laughs] but he’s cool. He does a good job.

I have a hypothesis that he gets paid by the word.
I think so, too... [Laughs]

When you saw the track after first practice, and I know you had your troubles with a stall and a crash or two, what were you thinking about then, with all the ruts and the soft dirt everywhere?
Honestly, for a long time, I was off the board, but I didn’t really care. This is one of the weekends where I didn’t really care about laptimes because one mistake... I think Chad ran a 57 one lap [in the main event] and we were running 51s. I just knew consistency was going to be key. I made a few bobbles, and I was able to handle them, but after the first practice, the track was definitely gnarly.

Tell us about what you’re doing training with Josh Hill, who was third tonight.
That guy doesn’t ride at all! I don’t even know how he got up here. [Laughs] No, I’m just playing. He rides a lot, and he’s good. We always knew he was fast. He won a race last year, so getting on the podium should be nothing to him. But he’s had a rough year, and it’s cool to see guys like that, and there’s no way in hell that I would ever take their success. These guys all train hard, and I train hard, and everything they get they deserve on their own. I would never sit here and say it’s about me, the reason why someone’s up here.

Talk a little bit about the pass on Mike Alessi on the first lap.
I don’t even remember where I passed him. I was in tunnel vision. We’ve got to go back to the instant replay! But I knew he was out front, and then when I came up to lap him later, I was like, “Here we go again.” But he was riding good. He wanted that holeshot just a little bit more than I did, and he was able to get it.

With the upcoming race in Jacksonville, are you kind of looking forward to being closer to home and having some friends and family around?
I’m not giving no tickets out! No family needs to come up there except for immediate family. [Laughs] Atlanta was too much. We had, I guess, 100 people up there. It was ridiculous. So, hopefully, they stay across the border line. I’ll bring my family and just hang out.

Have you heard what material the dirt’s going to be?
Honestly, it should rain, so hopefully it rains or does whatever it does. It’ll probably be soft. When you think to Orlando and Daytona, it seems like it should be soft, but no track could be any worse than this track for how rough it got and how soft it was, unless it rains, so we’ll see what happens.

You know what your job is from here on out, so what are your thoughts going into the last however many rounds?
Honestly, my job is the same every weekend, and that’s to go and prepare like I always do, and then to go out and see what I can do. I honestly think I have to win every race every weekend since Anaheim, so nothing’s changed. I work hard, and for me, I just have to keep focused on what I’m doing, and I think it showed in the 20 laps I put in tonight.
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