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450 Words: Phoenix

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Saturday night – well, Sunday morning – at 3:45 a.m., the AMA finally made its ruling about the penalty given to Chad Reed for “aggressive acts toward another rider”. The AMA over-ruled the previous decision. Depending on where you stand, this is either a situation where you say, “At least they got it right eventually...” or where you say, “The AMA has no teeth if it’s just going to continually over-rule itself.”

  • Ryan Dungey won his first-ever 450cc supercross, but almost no one is talking about it.
  • Ryan Villopoto finished a distant second, which was much better than his first race at Anaheim.
  • Josh Hill quietly occupied the third spot on the Phoenix podium. San Manuel Yamaha has still not missed a podium this year.
  • James Stewart put in a performance on Saturday night that, for what it lacked in speed, more than made up in grit and determination.
  • Chad Reed's off year just got worse in the Phoenix main, as a broken hand has sat him down until further notice.
But ask yourself this: If everything about the on-track situation was exactly the same, but it wasn’t Chad Reed and James Stewart, but rather, say, Andrew Short and Kevin Windham, what would the penalty be?

San Manuel Yamaha’s James Stewart – perhaps the most dominant supercross rider since Jeremy McGrath (sorry, RC) – just had "one of those nights" in Phoenix. First, the heat-race crash, which left him injured (some speculating with broken ribs), and then the contact in the main event, where he and Monster Energy Kawasaki’s Chad Reed attempted to occupy the same point in space.

At the conclusion to the crash, Chad Reed shoved James Stewart, which is the act that led to the eventually overturned penalty. Stewart showed grit in even starting the LCQ and main event, much less winning one and finishing the other, but in the end, his 15th place garnered him only six points, although if you can call him the winner of the fight, his longtime rival Chad Reed is out indefinitely.

And while this is the biggest story coming from the Phoenix Supercross, that might be somewhat offensive to the new points leader, Rockstar Makita Suzuki’s Ryan Dungey. It was his first 450cc race win, after all, yet almost no one seems to be talking about it. No one seems to be talking about the newly emerging 450cc superhero who challenged James Stewart to within inches of winning Anaheim I, and then won Phoenix going away; the guy who won the MX1 class at the MXdN, for which many people called it a fluke; the guy who has raced three 450cc supercross races in his life and has yet to finish outside of podium position; the guy with the squeaky-clean image that is so squeaky clean that fans seem to have a hard time figuring out whether to love him or hate him, or sometimes to pay any attention to him at all.

But on Saturday night, although the spotlight was on Ryan Dungey, who handily beat the one racer most thought would be the most likely to challenge the Reed/Stewart juggernaut – Ryan Villopoto – the minds of the fans and media were instead focused on the tempers and controversy of a crash that happened literally in the middle of the pack between two competitors who couldn’t hate each other more than they do.
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