450 Words: Salt Lake City

April 28, 2009 7:25am | by:

This season’s Monster Energy AMA Supercross, an FIM World Championship, has thrived on drama and unpredictability, but it took a whole turn further on Saturday night in Salt Lake City. Certainly no one thought Kyle Chisholm would end up playing an x-factor in the championship chase. Chisholm, the rookie teammate of James Stewart on the San Manuel Yamaha team, is by all accounts known as a nice kid with a good family and a clean rap-sheet on the track. Dig through his amateur career and into his days in the Lites class, and you won’t find a history of dirty riding, team tactics or anything besides tales of heads-up racing from Kyle.

  • Millsaps is holding his own as the season winds down
  • Tempers flared after the race
But what happened in Salt Lake City must go down as either one of the largest lapses of judgment supercross history, or, a sad case of team tactics. Chisolm was about to be lapped by Stewart’s title rival Chad Reed, but instead of letting Reed by, he nailed the next rhythm section, jumped to the inside of Reed in a corner and basically attempted a block pass—while being lapped! Chisholm dove so deep into the corner that he nearly tagged his teammate Stewart, and he eventually crashed himself. A lap later Chisholm was just getting up, and when Reed finally passed him, again, over a triple jump, the defending series’ champ gave him a huge look back.

Reed would later say he was so hot after the incident that it was hard to focus, and indeed it all added up to Stewart’s 11th win of the season, and a six-point lead heading into this weekend’s Vegas finale.

Don’t take anything away from Stewart. The race had been playing out quite similarly to Jacksonville, a race Stewart also won, and as he explained after the race, “I’ve beaten Chad all year, I don’t need help.” Indeed, there’s no evidence that Stewart wouldn’t have won the race anyway, since he was in the lead at the time.

But that only makes Chisholm’s move even stranger. Stewart would not want to win in this manner, and it’s doubtful he thinks he would need to, either. Stewart versus Reed heads-up is the battle that everyone wanted to see, including the competitors themselves. Now Reed is talking about his own teammate, Mike Alessi, and his ability to get holeshots and knock people down.

Honda’s Davi Millsaps ran his best race of the season, getting a good start and pushing hard to try to keep Stewart and Reed in sight. Millsaps had even pressured Reed in their heat race (Reed was struggling with front brake issues) and came into the race with confidence.

In the end, he finished third, over 25 seconds back, which is a half lap. “The pace those two were running, it was ridiculous,” said Millsaps.  It’s supposed to boil down to Stewart versus Reed right now, but it’s not clear, going into Vegas, if it will.