5 Minutes With... James Stewart

April 21, 2009 8:49pm | by:
San Manuel Yamaha’s James Stewart took a big step toward the 2009 Monster Energy/AMA Supercross Championship in Seattle by settling for second. It was the first time in his big-bike AMA supercross career that he didn’t win a race even though he didn’t fall at any point during it. We talked to him after the race, in which he grabbed a three-point lead in the championship chase with two rounds left to run.

Racer X: That was a bit of a wild race, and you probably couldn’t have gotten a worse start. What happened?
James Stewart: I could’ve been in Chad’s position, and that would’ve been a little worse. Honestly, they told me how far back I was – like 15th or something like that – and it was crazy. It was carnage. I bent my clutch lever when I got hit in the first corner, and I was just trying to stay up. The first couple laps, it was carnage, and there were guys trying to pass each other, because everyone wants to pass each other in the first couple laps, and everyone was stuffing, and you’d try to cut to the inside and get hit. I don’t know. I’m pretty stunned that I was able to come up and get second, and I saw how far Ryan [Villopoto] and those guys were gone, and I was really happy to finish where I did.

Was there even a thought about maybe passing Ryan? Because once you got into second, I think he still had like two straightaways on you, and there were maybe seven or eight laps left or something.
I was trying to get Millsaps... Everyone that was in front of me, I was just trying to pass him. Maybe you could throw a charge in, but you saw everybody falling all night, and at this point, it doesn’t matter who wins the race as long as I beat the guy I’ve got to beat in the points, and I was able to do that tonight. I was lucky. I’m going to try my best to keep it going. Ryan rode phenomenally, and he did what he needed to do. At this point, he’s just not my concern.

Yeah, he had nothing to lose...

Now, you’re in front in the points for the second time this season!
Yeah, out of 15 races, I’ve been in the points lead twice, but at the end of the day, it’s for the championship. It’s all about the championship right now. I won a lot of races this year, and I always found myself in second place in the points and always catching up, so it feels good to be in the points lead, but we’ve got a long ways to go. It doesn’t change my approach to anything because I could be on the other side, which I have been a couple times this year, and I just believe if I keep working hard, it’s going to happen. Things turn just like that, and we’ve got two races left. I feel no pressure. I feel good, and I’m ready to go.

You looked incredibly relieved on the podium after the race.
I wouldn’t say “relieved”, but if this was Vegas and we were in the same situation, then sure, but there’s a lot of work left. I’m happy, for sure. I never thought I’d come out of here with the points lead, but we have perfect weather, which is a great thing, and I got the points lead, which is a great thing, and I was able to stay up, which is a great thing. We’ve got a lot of work to do, and we’ll see what happens.

What did you think of the track?
In practice, I thought the soil was awesome, and then it seemed like something happened. It changed, and it was actually really slippery. The hardest part about the track is that it was very, very, very tough to pass, and I think people who got a bad start stayed in the back. They didn’t really come up. We saw it in the Lites class, and unless guys fell, no one really came from the back. I was able to do that tonight. When it really counted, I felt like I gritted down and was able to do it. That’s what I believe in, and that’s why I work hard. I felt like all year I’ve been able to do it when I needed to do it, so I just want to do it two more times, and we’ll see what happens after that.

So what’s going on after the two races for you?
Well, there’s a guy standing next to me [Larry Brooks], and he’s the boss, and he’s got the initials L and B, and you talk to him. But right now we’re going to go to work on what we’ve got to work on... I’ll tell you what’s happening after Vegas.

So I have to wait until after Vegas before you’ll tell us...
Yeah. Actually, the next two races, I’m riding outdoors, because neither stadium has a roof on it. It’s outside. [Laughs]