A sold out, standing-room only crowd of 39,506 packed into Sam Boyd Stadium for the 2009 Monster Energy® AMA Supercross, an FIM World Championship, season finale in Las Vegas. While all eyes were on the heated rivalry between San Manuel Yamaha’s James Stewart, of Haines City, Fla., and Rockstar/Makita Suzuki’s Chad Reed, of Tampa, Fla., rookie Ryan Villopoto, of Poulsbo, Wash., stole the show with his second victory in the last three races. In the annual, talent-filled Dave Coombs Sr. East/West Supercross Lites Shootout, Monster Energy/Pro Circuit Kawasaki’s Christophe Pourcel, of Corona, Calif., took the win and earned a Toyota Tundra for his efforts.
In the historic championship fight, Stewart brought home a solid third place result to win the title by four points over Reed, who finished second.
As the 20-lap AMA Supercross main event launched out of the gates, Rockstar/Makita Suzuki’s Mike Alessi, of Victorville, Calif., raced to the holeshot with Stewart and Villopoto chasing closely. Reed suffered from a rough start, and came out of the first turn in seventh. By the completion of lap one, Stewart had moved into the lead, but Monster Energy Kawasaki rider Villopoto stayed close and brought the crowd to its feet when he passed the 11-time winner on lap two and never looked back.
“It’s been awesome (the last three weeks),” said Villopoto. “To come back and win at Seattle was awesome, especially since it was my hometown. It’s been very close running in Vegas and it feels good to finally get a win here. I’ve never done that before. I’ve been working hard. I couldn’t have done it without the whole Monster Energy Kawasaki team. “
Behind him, Reed inched in on his nemesis, setting the stage for a memorable moment between the bitter rivals. While Reed needed a victory of his own for a shot at the championship, he made the best of his opportunity with a heavy-contact pass on Stewart on lap 15 to move into second and bring home his 12th runner-up finish of 2009. Stewart, who only needed a third place finish to clinch his second-career championship, backed off the pace and settled into third.
“You have no idea how tough this has to come back from what happened at Anaheim 1,” said Stewart. “This is the toughest I have ever had to fight to win a title. It’s has been a hard-fought championship for everyone. I just want to thank everyone that has been involved in everything we’ve accomplished this season.”
“I gave it everything I had,” explained Reed. “I can walk away knowing I did that. We had a great season back and forth and were real consistent and that kept us in (the title fight). I want to come back even harder and get it back next year. James had a great season and rode really well and I can’t take that away from him.”
In the AMA Supercross Lites main event, GEICO Powersports Honda’s Blake Wharton, of Pilot Point, Texas, overcame his East and West counterparts to grab the holeshot with teammate Trey Canard and Troy Lee Designs Honda’s Jake Moss, of Temecula, Calif., in tow. Respective Eastern and Western Regional Champions Pourcel and Rockstar/Makita Suzuki’s Ryan Dungey, of Belle Plaine, Minn., followed in fourth and ninth, respectively. Canard moved into the lead on by the end of lap one and quickly gapped the field while Pourcel moved into second. On lap12, Canard committed an error and fell from first to third, handing the lead to Pourcel and a closing Dungey. For the remaining three laps, Dungey, who was looking for his third-straight shootout victory, chased down the French rider, but came up a half a bike length short across the line.
“I just rode the best I could the entire main event. I stayed close to Trey (Canard) and then he made a little mistake. From that point I just rode as fast as I could. It feels great to get this victory.”
In the fight for the United States Smokeless Tobacco Company (USSTC) Top Privateer Challenger, Rockstar/Hart & Huntington Honda’s Matt Boni, of Geneva, Fla., overcame a difficult main event to fend off his challengers and bring home the $25,000 award.
The AMA Supercross Lites class will air on CBS Sports Sunday, May 3 at Noon (EST), and the Western Regional AMA Supercross class will air on Sunday, May 3 at 4:00 p.m. (EST).