SX at SF - Stewart Stalks Reed for Series Lead

Story and photos by Bob Stokstad

Published in City Bike, March 2009 Issue

Northern California Supercross addicts, all 39,411 of them, got their annual fix at AT&T Park Saturday, January 31.  Some 500 truckloads of custom blended marbley dirt covered the playing field with more ups and downs than a Coney Island rollercoaster.  The dirt mix was chosen with mud in mind, since it has rained on this parade for the previous six years.  But luck was with the fans this time as the weather was perfect for the show.  The riders however, had to deal with a slippery, almost one-lined track that made it difficult to catch up and pass.

This was round 5 of 17 in a series dramatizing the head-to-head competition of Suzuki-mounted Chad Reed, last year's champion, and Yamaha's James Stewart.  Reed was the series leader coming into San Francisco and left still in first place.  But Reed's starting lead of 23 points is now down to 6, as Stewart won this evening and the three previous races as well.   Stewart is steadily clawing his way back from his DNF in the first round, and Reed must be worrying about that biblical line about how the last shall be first.  In fact, watching Stewart's flawless, smooth riding and noting his comfortable 4.5 second margin in his wire-to-wire victory, it seems just a matter of at most three more races until Stewart takes the series lead.  Even though Reed rode well and took second place, it wasn't a great day for the Australian, who overshot a triple in practice and took a pratfall that was replayed on stadium video numerous times.

It was Round 4 of 8 for the west coast Lites series, where a close competition between Ryan Dungey and Jake Weimer is brewing.  Coming into San Francisco, Dungey brought two wins to Weimer's one.  The heat race made it clear that these two were going to duke it out in the main.  That they did, with Dungey staying on Weimer's tail, waiting and hoping for that opportunity to pass. When it came, he tried to sneak under Weimer in a banked turn, but lost the front end.  Dungey dropped back to third, but managed to retake his second-place spot just before the last lap.

The fans were treated to a fireworks, laser-light and monster propane torch show just after dark.  You gotta hand it to these road show folks - they know how to whip up a crowd.  Between the Jaegermeister stunt riders and the lovely ladies in black boots throwing T-shirts into the stands, not to mention the pit parties and other whoopla that goes with Supercross racing, the fans got their money's worth.  Maybe Monster Energy/AMA should think about coming to San Francisco twice a year.