It’s not a huge surprise that San Manuel Yamaha’s James Stewart set the fastest time in qualifying, but the way he did it was pretty dramatic. He waited until the last lap of practice to bust out a very tricky triple/triple combination that dropped his laptime by almost a second. His final time was about 1.2 seconds faster than Honda Red Bull Racing’s Davi Millsaps and Monster Energy Kawasaki’s Ryan Villopoto. Stewart earned a point for his qualifying triumph.
Then came the head-to-head portion of the night. Unlike the McGrath Invitational, which featured a graduating ladder for riders to face stiffer and stiffer competition, the head-to-head portion at the U.S. Open was purely a matter of luck. Riders would pull a number out of a hat, and the rider who corresponded with that number would be their competitor. The only truly good race of the night in that event was between Millsaps and Villopoto, with Villopoto taking the win in the one-lap event.
This meant that four riders got the single point for the head-to-head win.
Then came the wrench race. The top-nine main-event qualifiers (the three riders from each of the three heats who qualified direction for the main event) lined up behind the starting gate and watched their mechanics change a back wheel, then push the bike up to the end of the start straightaway. Although all of the riders were out there cheering on their guy, it was Millsaps’ mechanic Carlos, who won Millsaps a point toward his total with his performance too.
When the main event rolled around, Stewart grabbed the early lead over GEICO Powersports Honda’s Dan Reardon and never looked back. He also never did the tricky triple/triple section from practice.
Stewart led every lap of the main event, eventually winning over Millsaps, who passed Reardon at around the halfway point. Reardon hung on for a strong third over MotoConcepts Racing Yamaha’s Matt Goerke, JGR Yamaha’s Christian Craig and the rest of the field. Monster Energy’s Josh Hansen, who was fast all day, finished second to last after a start-straightaway crash out of the gate, and the last-place guy was none other than Ryan Villopoto, who had some sort of mechanical issue.
The final tally tomorrow night will determine the overall winner.