Villopoto wins in Vegas - Stewart brings home Supercross Championship

Sam Boyd Stadium in Las Vegas, Nevada was the final stop of the 2009 Monster Energy AMA Supercross, an FIM World Championship. The 31 year old stadium was sold out at its 36,800 seat capacity and the crowd showed up early to participate in the pre-race hunt for signatures and photos of their favorite riders. James Stewart's pit crew were wearing custom t-shirts (photo at end of article) that could offer an explanation as to why James Stewart wasn't at the season's final press conference, although fans who weren't aware of the drama may have been confused.

Chad Reed showed off some of his jump combinations that he had worked out earlier in practice and pulled down one of the fastest lap times in the Supercross Heat races. Reed finished his Heat race in the number one spot. Kevin Windham #14 Honda ran into a tuff block and was still able to finish second.

James Stewart finished the second Supercross Heat race in first with his best lap time of 1:04:297. Ryan Villopto #2 Kawasaki finished second and #33 Josh Grant Yamaha finished third.

Lites Main Event

AMA Supercross Lites competitors from both the East and West come together for a one-off showcase. No points involved, just bragging rights, prize money, and a Toyota Tundra truck awaiting the winner.

In the Lites Main Event, Blake Wharton #61 Honda started out in front of #39 Trey Canard Honda until Trey pulled into the lead in the second lap. Trey Canard set the pace for the race, being trailed by both the Eastern Regional Champion 1E Christophe Pourcel Kawasaki in second and Western Regional Champion 1W Ryan Dungey Suzuki, who worked his way up to third by the sixth lap.

In lap twelve Trey Canard lost the back end and dropped to third but kept on battling trying to regain his lead position. The fans were on their feet cheering Champion vs. Champion in the last lap. Eastern Regional Champion 1E Christophe Pourcel took the checkered flag, $5,000 and the Toyota truck. Ryan Dungey, already with two Toyota trucks in his garage from winning previous years – took second.

Supercross Main Event

With the gate coming down #7 James Stewart Yamaha took the lead until the third lap when #2 Ryan Villopoto Kawasaki passed James Stewart with Chad Reed #1 Suzuki racing in third. Reed gained on Stewart lap after lap – at times it almost appeared as though Stewart was slowing down for Reed to catch him. There was speculation that Stewart was attempting to play it safe after Reed's repeated threats and warnings that the #7 rider would get taken out during the race.

With Stewart and Reed almost side by side the crowd watched as they both slowed down to see what the other rider was planning to do.

In the fourteenth lap Chad Reed appeared to make good on his "checkers and wreckers" threat from the day before, stuffing James Stewart into a tuff block during a bizarre squeeze play in the corner outside the stadium - a section of the track not visible to any of the spectators, but only to the TV cameras. James Stewart was forced off the track and onto the polished concrete floor of the stadium, but was able to stay up on two wheels and keep racing as Reed took the pass for second.

For the remainder of the race, Stewart held back in a comfortable third, avoiding any further confrontation with Reed or any other rider.

#2 Ryan Villopoto Kawasaki had a huge lead on Chad Reed because of the three slow laps Chad and James spent sizing each other up. Ryan Villopoto took the checkered flag followed by Chad Reed who claimed second. James Stewart crossed in third, giving him enough points to win the Monster Energy AMA Supercross, an FIM World Championship. #14 Kevin Windham Honda finished the last race of the year in fourth.

In an interview, Chad Reed congratulated James Stewart on a strong race season, however on the podium the Reed and Stewart neither spoke nor made eye contact, avoiding each other for the whole ceremony. There were continued cat calls from the audience directed towards Reed as various spectators shouted, "Now who's that guy? Chad Reed? Who's that guy?"

James Stewart thanked all his fans, his team, Larry Brooks, his mechanics, his parents, his fiancé, the dealers, his bus driver, and the Lord above – but no mention of Chad Reed and the year of battles between them, or of Chad's questionable maneuver pushing James into the tuff block. James Stewart appeared to have been able to come to the race and get the points needed to win without getting caught up in the drama.

Chad Reed won last year's Supercross Championship as a member of the San Manuel team. Now James Stewart wins the Championship racing for Chad's old team - San Manuel. This race may not settle all the drama between Chad and James, but fans were here to see who was fastest on the track, and at least for this year James Stewart has won that battle.

Larry Brooks wins another Championship as San Manuel team manager and his team keeps the number one plate.

Look for our Supercross Photogallery from Las Vegas ... coming soon!

Source & Photos:

Click here to visit our forums to discuss this story