A SEVEN FOR 7 IN PHOENIX
It was a long week for James between the A1 series opener and round number two in Phoenix—one in which he was unable to ride and train in his usual fashion. Thanks to the bum knee suffered during practice at Anaheim, James was forced to stay off the bike until the first session on Saturday afternoon inside Chase Field, but still managed to drop the quickest lap time of all the 450s.
“I’m surprised those guys gave it to me,” James commented when he got back to the truck. “I felt okay out there, but didn’t think I was quite on that pace. We’ll see what we’ve got for ‘em come race time.”
When the gate dropped for the second 450 heat of the night, James rocketed into the lead aboard his Red Bull-backed Yoshimura Suzuki and never looked back. Eight smooth and steady laps was all it took to own the heat, and James was stoked to move straight into the main without a hitch.
“That’s what it’s going to take tonight… A good start, and you gotta stay out of trouble. Hopefully we can run somewhere up toward the front and continue collecting points while I sort my knee out.”
Despite spinning out of the gate and getting pulled down the start straight, James dove to the inside of turn one to charge his way into the eighth spot early on in the 450SX main event. Working his way up as high as sixth during the first half of the race, JS7 eventually settled into the seventh spot where he’d later cross the checkers.
“Seventh is a spot better than last week, but even with a sore knee I know I’m better than that,” James said after the race. “I got really cold out there tonight, and that caused me to ride tight. No excuses, though… Those guys rode well, so I just need to come out tougher and faster next weekend at A2.”
1. Justin Barcia
2. Ryan Villopoto
3. Davi Millsaps
4. Chad Reed
5. Trey Canard
6. Jake Weimer
7. James Stewart
8. Ryan Dungey
9. Andrew Short
10. Josh Grant