It’s official – James ‘Bubba’ Stewart is back.
In his 45th career first-place finish, Yoshimura Suzuki’s new recruit James Stewart won the 450SX Main Event under the roof of the Georgia Dome in Atlanta on Saturday night.
Navigating his yellow machine through a course of deep ruts, red clay and a sand trap which resembled a small desert, Stewart grabbed the holeshot for himself and stayed out in front the entire race.
Closely followed by Ryan Villopoto and points leader Davi Millsaps – who were only just separated throughout the race – the challenging yet uneventful Main Event pushed the fitness of all riders to the absolute limit.
A mix of hard-packed surfaces, shallow whoops and nerve-rattling rhythm sections threw bikes in the air for suspended hang times and back wheels into wavy fishtail maneuvers in what was surely one of the season’s more difficult circuits.
While Ryan Villopoto maintained his second place spot, his footwork at times let him down while Stewart powered on ahead.
Stewart’s textbook body position and calculated knee movements kept his erratic tendencies at bay and carried him home in an error-free race, a breath of fresh air to the rider and his fans alike following his race-halting clutch malfunction last week.
After admitting he “struggled at times” with the track, a grinning James Stewart was understandably in high spirits when he chatted to Erin Bates after the race.
“I was a little nervous out there, then I calmed down,” he said.
“I’m so damn happy”, Stewart announced as he thanked his sponsors, “I love you guys”.
The victory was Stewart’s third win at Atlanta, as well as sealing the record as one of only seven riders to win Main Event races on three different bike brands (Kawasaki, Yamaha and Suzuki).
Ryan Villopoto (Monster Energy Kawasaki) came in 2nd in front of David Millsaps (3rd, Rock Star Energy Racing Suzuki).
Wil Hahn’s top spot in the 250SX class was, like Stewart’s win, a big personal achievement – it was his very first career Main Event win.
The GEICO Powersports Honda rider snatched the holeshot in front of Dean Wilson on the Kawasaki and zipped out ahead.
Marvin Musquin squeezed past Blake Wharton with a carefully timed inside move in lap three on the berm and continued the battle.
At the podium it was Wil Hahn standing above Dean Wilson (Monster Energy/Pro Circuit Kawasaki, 2nd) and Marvin Musquin (Red Bull KTM, 3rd).
“It was just a matter of calming the nerves out there,” Hahn said.
“I had good speed and I felt good.”
Davi Millsaps vice-like grip on the 450 points table stands at 174, followed by Ryan Villopoto (2nd, 152) and Ryan Dungey (3rd, 148).
Dean Wilson (47) sits just two points ahead of Wil Hahn (45) on the 250SX ladder with Blake Wharton in 3rd place on 40.
The southern style Supercross continues next week at the Edward Jones Dome in St. Louis, Missouri.
By TSM Editor Paul Savage