It was the eve of the Anaheim Supercross opener, and the motorcycle media and a few mainstream outlets were gathered in the Diamond Club of Angel Stadium. Before them was a cloth-covered table, behind which the fastest riders on the planet were all gathered. Well, all but one, and his absence did not go unnoticed.
“Your thoughts on the state of affairs to be missing one of the sport’s stars, James Stewart?” one of the reporters asked. “Who wants to take it?”
A collective shrug followed; the riders exchanged glances. Then Red Bull KTM’s Ryan Dungey was asked directly. He deferred to Stewart’s longtime nemesis Chad Reed, which brought chuckles from the whole room.
“I feel like I'm in a lose-lose,” the two-time AMA Supercross Champion tiptoed. “I think it’s really sad. . . . You know, putting my differences aside. . . . He has, what, 50 wins? Second all-time, two-time champ. He’s got the credentials, and I think it’s really sad that he doesn’t have a job. I have to think he needs to look in the mirror sometimes and see. . . . I think that’s the best way to do it. . . . I’ll miss racing him. I don’t know if this is it for him or not, though. The [picture] was kind of getting painted, and it’s sad that it’s kind of turning out this way.”
That exchange did not take place at the start of the 2018 Monster Energy AMA Supercross Championship, but rather 2017’s—yet it would likely play out just the same now.