March 21, 2005
In one of the most highly anticipated races of the 2005 Supercross season, Kawasaki's James Stewart proved he is definitely the one to watch as he made his return to THQ AMA Supercross series competition in Orlando. The 19-year-old phenom from nearby Haines City, Fla., earned his first 250 podium finish, capturing third before a crowd of 41,969 at the Citrus Bowl on Saturday.
The evening began under a clear, cool Florida sky, as the air was full of anticipation for the start of the 250 qualifiers and Stewarts return to competition. Immediately following the start of the second heat race, Stewart found himself chasing down Ricky Carmichael for the lead. It wasn't long before he took over the lead position and held onto it for the duration, winning his second heat race of the season and posting the fastest lap time for the event at 51.90 seconds.
The build up for the 250 main event was even more suspenseful.
Immediately following the start, Stewart stayed close on the inside of the first turn as majority of the field swept wide. He immediately rocketed his Kawasaki KX250 past Ricky Carmichael to lead the first lap and gained nearly two seconds on him before Carmichael went down in the whoops on lap four. This left the door open for Reed to come around and attempt to close in on Stewart for the next five laps. Unfortunately, Stewart suffered the same fate as Carmichael in the whoops and went down on lap eight. However, he quickly recovered to end up in third.
Despite the setback, Stewart held his position and immediately began catching Carmichael, but then, as Stewart lapped Cole Siebler, Siebler crashed in front of Stewart, forcing the Kawasaki pilot to single the first jump of a triple. Undaunted by his misfortunes, Stewart held his position for the remainder of the event, ultimately finishing in third place and the first 250 podium finish of his career.
"I'm bummed that I crashed in the whoops," said Stewart during the post race press conference. "But it was an unfortunate mistake and I'm happy that I finished strong and healthy," Stewart added. "It's hard that I let my Kawasaki team down after all that they've done for me, but the bike ran great and now I'm more confident going to Dallas."
In the 125 action, Team Monster/Pro Circuit/Kawasaki rider Grant Langston encountered some bad luck of his own after he went down during his 125 qualifier. The affable South African was forced to ride the LCQ but he soldiered on and led every lap to make it into the 125 main event.
During the 125 main event, Langston got of the gate strong and wound up in third position immediately following the first turn. After some intense battles on the second lap, Langston piloted his Kawasaki KX250F into the second spot behind Davi Millsaps. Langston battled towards the front and came within inches of the lead a few times before lappers got in his way, leaving Millsaps to take over the lead for good. After 15 laps, Langston finished in second, with Millsaps taking the win. Team Monster/Pro Circuit/Kawasaki rider Matt Walker, battled up front from 12th to ultimately earn a fourth place finish.
"Were almost like the 250s," said Langston. "It seems like we've had the same three guys battling for the top spot every weekend," he added. "Being tied for the points should make the next two events even better."
The THQ AMA Supercross Series has a one-week hiatus before continuing its southern swing, heading over to Texas Stadium near Dallas, on Saturday, April 2nd for the 12th round of the 16-event series.
Source: Kawasaki Motors Corp., U.S.A.