The night started with the head-to-head racing, and it’s not like the head-to-head racing you might be used to. Unlike the McGrath Invitational a few years ago, where the top 16 racers were put head-to-head in an elimination challenge to determine an overall winner, the head-to-head action at the U.S. Open featured the top 10 riders in qualifying from the morning practices, and after a rider’s number was drawn, he would then draw another number, which would be his competitor.
This created five separate one-lap races (or, in tonight’s case, almost two laps, because of where the finish line was located relative to the starting line), and the winner of each race got a one-point bonus toward the weekend’s total.
This created some good racing, but besides the five points handed out, results weren’t really tabulated for this portion of the evening.
Suffice it to say, though, that James Stewart, for the second night in a row, won his head-to-head matchup (against Nick Wey tonight).
For the second night in a row, another bonus point went to the rider whose mechanic could change a rear wheel the fastest and then push his bike down across the line on the start straightaway. Last night’s winner, Carlos Rivera, is Davi Millsaps’ mechanic, and Millsaps was second in the race, putting him one point closer to Stewart in the overall standings.
The eligible riders in the wrench race were the nine riders who qualified for the main event directly from their heat races (three from each of three races), and Millsaps only got a berth in the second-night event with a last-lap pass on Heath Voss for third in the final heat of the night.
However, it ended up not mattering toward his total, as it was Lucas Oil/TLD Honda’s Matt Jory, the mechanic for Chris Blose. So Blose got an extra point toward his total.
Heavy favorite Adam Cianciarulo won the Friday-night 85cc event without being challenged much, although Yamaha-mounted Chris Alldredge was never too far behind. Tonight, however, Alldredge grabbed the early lead while Cianciarulo was coming through the pack.
Alldredge held on tight to the lead and, although Cianciarulo caught him with a few laps to go, he couldn’t do anything with the speedy Yamaha pilot and was forced to settle for second, both in the moto and overall.
Alldredge took the Golden Boot for first place in the 85cc class over Cianciarulo and Thomas Covington.
Last night’s third-place finisher Dan Reardon of the GEICO Powersports Honda team took the holeshot at the beginning of the main event, but it wasn’t long before Monster Energy Kawasaki’s last-minute entry Ryan Villopoto grabbed the lead. While Villopoto led, Reardon soon had his hands full with San Manuel Yamaha’s Stewart.
It took quite a few laps for Stewart to get by Reardon, and in the mean time, Villopoto was getting away. At one point, Stewart even miscalculated a corner entry and rammed Reardon pretty hard trying to get by after the whoops. Eventually, he made it past, but at that point, Villopoto had a full straightaway on him.
Stewart immediately started pushing forward to get up to Villopoto, and he eventually caught the Kawasaki rider. After making a pass stick, Villopoto made the same mistake Stewart did, in the same corner, and rammed his rival, but Stewart held the lead.
Stewart led the rest of the race, pulling away, while Villopoto (who admitted he was tired, with only a limited time on the bike) finished second, and Reardon ended up fourth when he lost the third spot to Millsaps late in the race, fearing he may have a flat front tire.
Overall, Stewart ($100,000 purse) took it for the second year in a row over Millsaps ($35,000) and Reardon ($20,000).