5 Minutes With... James Stewart

It was a wild one last weekend in Salt Lake City, and San Manuel Yamaha’s James Stewart ended up on the long end of the stick. He now carries a six-point lead into the finale this Saturday night in Las Vegas, and he’s featured on ESPN’s E:60 in about a half-hour, at 7 p.m. EST. Read this, then turn on your TV and see what he had to say to the “outside world.”

Racer X: Let’s talk first about your heat race. It looked like your shifter was knocked way up out of the way...
James Stewart: Yeah, and I’m going to be upset if Oscar [Wirdeman, his mechanic] doesn’t get the $500 mechanic’s award next week, but I cut down on the corner, and me and Broc [Hepler] hit, and it was the first lap, and I was stuck in third gear. I was able to squeak it out, and luckily it was stuck in the perfect gear – not anything too high or something – and I felt good tonight. I felt really good except for my hands being too cold.

After the rhythm section on the far end, you were revving the piss out of the bike as you did that double heading into the big triple. Is that because you were stuck in that gear?
Yeah, I was just trying to build momentum, and the track... For as bad as it was, or as bad as it could’ve been, it was actually pretty good. All the credit goes to the work the people put in, like Dirt Wurx, and they worked really hard and we were able to have a great track, and we’ll see what happens.

Talk about the race with Chad.
I was able to pass him over the triple over here – I was going double-triple – and he ran me up in the last turn before the finish. I passed him back a lap later, and he came into the next corner, and things got aggressive.

That’s right, he knocked you into the Tuff Block over there...
Yeah, and in the mud, but it’s all good. I’m having a good time, and I’m trying to go after the championship. Emotions are high, and he wants to win. I knew it was going to happen. Just like he said a few weeks ago in this same interview, he said he was going to put me in Row F, so I knew at some point it was going to come, but I was able to anticipate it, regroup, and pass him clean again. I got a small lead, and then I just kind of held onto it.

I think everyone knew something was going to go down as soon as you guys got together out there. The drama was good for the fans, though.
My biggest thing is that I’ve just honestly got to try to stay away from that part. At the end of the day, you want to race a guy and go to sleep knowing that you raced him as hard as you could, and clean, and you didn’t take anybody out. He’s in a desperate situation. He wanted to win tonight, and I wanted to win tonight, and I think I got lucky enough to be able to do it, so it was great.

You’re talking about luck? Come on. You got a bad jump at the start, and you still had to catch and pass Chad. That’s not luck.
As long as that quote is in the interview, I don’t have to say anything about it [laughs]. Okay, so I had a little skill, and a little patience, and I was able to get the job done.

When you took the inside on him over the finish line, you scrubbed the hell out of that jump!
I did scrub pretty good. Somebody’s got to have a photo of that. I passed him really clean there and actually got kind of cross-rutted because I tried to give him some extra room, but it’s all good. I feel great, and to me, it just shows where everything’s at. I was put in a great situation, and tonight I came out on top. There was a little skill involved [laughs].

Are you going into Vegas thinking you have to win that one, too?
I’m going into Vegas like I do every weekend. Nothing’s changed. Nothing changed tonight. I honestly didn’t have to win the race, but I wanted to. Everybody says it makes everything easier, but it just makes it more fun. I’m still going to work hard like I normally do, but honestly, if I get put in a situation like tonight, and I see a yellow bike coming in, maybe I’ll just say, “Here you go, man.”

I want to talk a little bit about this ESPN show. What does it mean for you, for your team, for the sport...
It’s a big step for me, obviously, and for the fans, to know that there are other people paying attention to the sport. Everybody complains about how bad this is, and how riders should do this or that, but this is the only way the sport’s going to get bigger. Otherwise, they’re going to close the doors in a couple years and you’ll be watching NASCAR. For me, it was just a great opportunity, and I took advantage of it. I think it comes on Tuesday a 7 p.m. (EST), and it should be a great show. It should be good for supercross fans, and I have a couple other things lined up that are pretty cool, and at the end of the day, it’s only going to help the sport grow. One day, hopefully I’ll be appreciated for that.