450 Words: DallasTuesday, April 5, 2011 | 2:45 PM
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Take James Stewart. His growing catalog of spectacular mistakes now includes this weekend's wild ride through the whoops, which saw him very nearly go all Matt Goerke and launch himself into the cheap seats. Fortunately for him—and unfortunately for the other man—Chad Reed was there to slow him down. The energy went through the series points leader's motorcycle and sent him through the tuff blox, over the berm, and out of the points lead.
Stewart has made his share of mistakes this season.
Photo: Andrew Fredrickson
Reed himself has made some mistakes too, though this crash is the one that might haunt him, as he could have built on his points lead had he stayed up and at least finished third, because at that point Ryan Villopoto wasn't looking like he was going to get anywhere near the podium.
And speaking of the usually steady RV, he seemed like his old self again once Stewart took out Reed and Ryan Dungey fell. But the damage of the previous two rounds—Villopoto failed to qualify at Jacksonville and was dropped by Stewart (only in Canada, and back to ninth instead of eighth, where Reed eventually finished)—and the Monster Energy Kawasaki rider gave back an entire race to the field in the form of some 35 points.
Dungey has had his fair share of mistakes, but it was that broken chain back at Anaheim 2 that really sunk him deepest. Shots at the win at races like Houston and Dallas have conspired to keep him mostly out of the title talk—and he's only seven points behind now!
Reed lost valuable points in Dallas.
Photo: Andrew Fredrickson
Canard? He gave away San Diego twice. Kevin Windham? He had Houston in the bag before he crashed out front all by himself. Like I said, they've all had their chances, and they've all thrown a few away.
Which brings us back to Stewart, the straw that stirs this drink when it comes to bench-racing. Whether he's trying too hard to get through traffic (both on and off the track) or just trying to smooth it all out, he's the lightning rod that attracts the critics and the purists. His crash into Reed at Dallas could be blamed on impatience, poor racecraft, or just plain hubris, but you have to admit one thing: the man was trying to ride as fast as he possibly could. That's an admirable trait in any racer, of course, but it's probably going to cost him this title.
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The James Stewart Freestone AMA Spring Classic in Texas has quickly earned a place on the list of must-attend springtime amateur events. Page 182.