May 05 ’09 : Stewart 2009 AMA and FIM SX Champion!
Date posted on May 5, 2009
Yamaha rider James Stewart has won the 2009 AMA SX Championship (also an FIM world championship) thanks to third position taken at the seventeenth and last round of the series in front of almost 40,000 spectators at the Sam Boyd Stadium in Las Vegas. The 23 year old claimed his second SX title and the sixth of his career while successfully defending Yamaha’s crown in the premier class.
The 19th Supercross event to take place in Las Vegas saw a tense final face-off between points-leader Stewart and defending number one Chad Reed; the pair had been trading places at the top of the standings throughout the campaign. Stewart carried a six point advantage and could afford to ride conservatively and within distance of Reed. He led for the opening laps of the Main Event but relinquished control to Ryan Villopoto and then withstood close pressure from Reed, no doubt hoping to force a mistake, before settling for third behind the Australian and confirming
the championship by just four points.
“I might not have ridden the best tonight, but I did what I had to do, and I’m so happy,” said Stewart who had previously won in both classes at Las Vegas and managed to stretch his career tally of wins to 36 through his efforts in 2009.
“It’s so emotional. There is so much hard work that went into this, and honestly I’m exhausted right now because it’s been the toughest year for me. Every race this year, I’ve had to win, and that’s hard mentally. I don’t think anybody’s ever been in a situation where they had to win every race. Chad has been on the podium 16 out of 17 races this year, so I had to win after Anaheim I, and then after Daytona. It pays off to have a great team, a great trainer, and a great supporting cast. I’m so happy.”
2009 was the first season for the Floridian on the YZ450F and he already forged a milestone by becoming the first
rider to give Yamaha 11 victories in one term (an achievement not even seen in the dominant era of Jeremy McGrath, although ’09 was only the sixth season since the inception of the sport in 1974 in which the calendar stretched to 17 rounds). Stewart only finished off the podium twice and his DNF at Anaheim for round one was the sole blight on his
“I’ve said it before, but I don’t care if I win by 100 points or one point, I won it, and I don’t care what anybody says,” he added. “I won this championship, and my team won this championship, and I won it fair and square. I had the most race wins, and I had the most points. I won’t take anything away from Chad. Hat’s off to him, he rode great this year, but the number-one plate’s mine now.”
Racing’s Josh Grant registered a twelfth top ten finish of his rookie season with 7th in Las Vegas. The youngster’s victory at Anaheim 1 meant that Yamaha owned 12 of the 17 races in 2009 and Grant was able to cap the year with 4th overall in the championship.