Feb 22, 2011

Running from the repugnant rain...San Diego Supercross

It seemed that every rider, staff member, & fan involved with Round 7 of the Supercross series in San Diego, CA had the same feeling...they knew it was gonna rain, they just did not know when, let alone, how much.  I drove seven hours myself, just to see these amazing athletes perform in true fashion...rain or shine! There is nothing quite as detrimental or as favorable to riders. Mud races are where championship hopes can dwindle or accelerate for these points chasers. This is how the 14 hour day played out.

"The calm before the storm"

All mechanics must roll their hand built machines though "AMA tech inspection." Officials briefly look over the creation, they make sure that the professional mechanic's throttles, clutches, brakes, & various bolts were properly cared for during the weekly rebuild that the machines repetitively endure. The officials then put a little sticker on the number plate, as well as, the frame, to prevent riders from switching bikes throughout the races. 

"Goose" goes over the "revised rain schedule" with an AMA official.

Patrick reminds "the man" to "Please put that thing on straight."

Stewart's mechanic is probably thinking something like..."Really dude...you're actually checking MY tire pressure?"

Lars patiently watches as a frame sticker is placed on his machine.

Hey, there's Timmy! He is a true dirt bike lover. My good fortune of seeing my friend at these events is due to the fact that he helps young privateers with the skills they need to make this show a major part of their lives. I love Timmy very much!

~Editors note: Not in a gay way.  

Timmy could care less if the official puts the sticker on straight. He is a true privateer and knows that scoping out the numbered chips in the Tupperware container on the table is the only thing that matters under this tent for his rider. Timmy will draw a chip out of that tub and it will determine what order his rider gets to pick his starting gate. 

The big teams kept their storm doors closed around their mobile race shop's front porch. Mitch Payton hangs out close to the bike that is supposed to win him another championship in this series.

The rider of that #100 machine is trying to get through this race while nursing a broken hand.

When I asked him, "How the hell are you gonna hang on?" His reply was nothing short of Renegade NorCal style, it brought a huge smile across my face & damn near made me swell up a tear. "I got another hand right here that I'm gonna hang on with!"

Over at the Kawasaki camp, under close presence of his manager, #2 ponders what this rain filled stadium is going to deliver to him tonight.

His manager has different wonders, like if his substitute rider #321 is going to put on a good performance, and if he has enough coffee cups for the long night ahead.

Over at the non-factory teams, the managers usually pitch in anyway they can. This is "Kdub" he reminisces about his prime days of being a mechanic himself back in 1996, as he helps his rider's "wrenches" get their jobs completed.

I strolled on over to check on my old friend M. Boni. Matt always enjoys a good ol' front porch "sit & chat" with a good buddy on race day to help him relax before the battles he will have to endure throughout the evening ahead.

Boni's ride is ready for battle.

Everyone is required to attend the riders meeting. This is always a good time to catch up with friends about past times, great discos, & good laughs. Since the officials recite the same speech every weekend...most riders probably know it better than the "happy birthday song."

JGR manager "J-Bone" has been around for many moons and is all business when it comes to the race team he directs. He stands front row at the meetings, so as to not miss any discrepancies he may hear during the repetitive speech delivery.

I cannot go into depth about this man at the moment, I will try to give you a short explanation but I am afraid this will not be possible...but I will try. The man is known as Johnny T, most people know this, but few know what he is actually made of. He is an extraordinary human being. I personally think of him as a genetic freak. He is multi time bicycle racing champion. As a youngster he was a factory BMX champion who went on to turn the world of mountain bike racing upside down, back when It was invented. I have seen him on a dirt bike, as well, and I believe he could qualify for a MX national, if he wanted... I see his son as a mirror image of his championship winning ways, with an engine being the only difference in the machines they use to gather their crowns. John is one of the calmest, coolest, smartest persons that I have ever met. I don't think this often of people, but I would really be interested in seeing his I.Q. test result. He has had Eli's career planned out for some time now and I have personally watched John's racing program through the years as he structured it for his son. From paying attention to John's meticulous program I have witnessed the most precise and proper way to build a dirtbike champion. Eli Tomac will be the next king of this sport, like his father I see many championships in his future.

Trey is one of my favorite people in the world, if you have the honor to spend some time with this young man you will know why. I can not say enough words about him to explain his amazing soul.

#14 is a "family man" his wife is his #1 fan and as it looks he is hers also. To be a racers wife should be considered one of the most consistently stressful rolls one could carry through this life. Their support is priceless. 

Stroupe #74 is faster than he appears right now. I have seen brilliance out of this young man at times. I know he is just coming off of a horrible injury so I do not discredit his performance, but I know he is capable of top 5 finishes & hopefully all of you will see these feats soon.

His bodyguards keep his machine under close watch.

Josh Hill is injured and not racing but he goes to the races to greet his fans and simply because the kid loves dirt bike racing more than anything in the world.

After the riders meeting everyone is welcome to attend SX church services. 

I love nothing more than seeing all the long time riders and mechanics talk to each other about long ago memorable times and their new families' current progress. Friendship runs heavy amongst most vets in the industry. 

All the teams spent most of the day getting organized for the mud they would soon meet.

Frank strategically crams foam in every mud friendly orifice on Shorty's machine.

Looks good Frank.

I wonder if I'm still supposed to "believe the hype" as everyone was instructed to do back in something like 2004ish? 

I believe Shorty's unannounced hype...fore sure!

The young German prospect Roczen#194's machine is watched by mechanics, an agent, his parents, and a gear company supplied "man friend". Personally I'd prefer #74's bodyguards. 

Trey is coming off of a win last weekend, so he must dish out for the media all day long since everyone wants a piece of his story.

He goes over his bike setup with Brent and Deano.

#22's engine man is a swell cat. Every time I have attended a party after the races with Doug I'm impressed on how he wears his jogging shoes to the disco. I asked him the reason for this and he explained that it's just in case he needs to high tail it back to the hotel at 2am. This is usually caused by the plethora of women who stalk this cutie pie when they see him enter a building. 
"Man, you gotta have an escape plan, and I'm prepared." ~Doug

#1 takes in the advice of his tire professional on what he will need for the anticipated muddy conditions. He reminds me of a young head executive in a negotiation meeting. 

The professional Dunlop tire guru tells Ryan what to expect from each tire, in each condition, relevant to tonight's soil and weather.

After his tire meeting, Ryan fiddles with his levers for a while.

His mechanic chuckles because he knows that after 10 minutes everything is right back were they started. 

But like myself, Goose knows #1 is probably just nervous about the mud forecast and tonight's uncertainty.

Marcus...a man of few words and many well honed engine building skills.

"NorCal"...a man of many words and many well honed racing skills. Jeff also smiles as often as the T-shirt he is wearing and has a broken femur currently.

I didn't know "puppy" before today, but I did enjoy meeting the little guy. He was very nice.

Alex is one hell of a friendly guy and I always enjoy chatting with him, as well as, most of the JGR crew.

The JGR bikes are some of the best developed race bikes in the pits.

#100 and I both walked the long way around the pits to avoid this display.

During the #100's doctor appointment before practice he got in a little spat with Sorby about how he thinks Eric has been spending too much time with #7 and is not the same since he has become a reality T.V. show extra. Dr. G gets a good chuckle out of their melodramatic tiff.

They soon reconciled and enjoyed the "make up moment".

His attention is soon brought back to his swollen and throbbing broken hand that he would have to use in a few hours.

~Editors note: the next 3 photos tell a true story...I was there. 

Professional goggle builders put together mud ready goggles for their riders. They drink a lot of coffee and do this for hours while heckling anyone who walks by and is not one of their favorites.

Ping comments on how he prefers tear offs more than the roll off system...because too many things can go wrong with the mechanical system. 

The goggle builder goes on to tell everyone that he builds the goggles for ol' "believe the hype #800" And that Ping doesn't know what he's talking about. It's not until Ping starts to recite his personal resume of accomplishments that the goggle builder is reminded of these facts and quietly goes back to his work. 

I don't think Mitch took his eyes or mind off of the #100 machine most of the day.

Neither did the racer's past champion of a father. 

I was happy to receive a kiss from a missed friend.

R.L. is a bad dude on a bicycle. He trains top riders in their quest for physical and mental perfection.

I.T. is a past champion and he knows he should be finishing better than this year's racing season has delivered to him so far.

Kdub and Ping discuss their favorite snacks.

Models eat too...just in case you were wondering.

"Step Brothers"?

The #1 cast a big shadow...

Security is "tight" in the pits.

Eric Kehoe is a happy man with last weeks #1 bike in his care.

Kdub is a radio show host icon, fans ask him for autographs so often he now has to carry a Sharpie with him at all times. He also has fans that bring him resum├ęs in hopes of working on his team. He always directs them over to Coy at JGR via "Coy told me they were looking for someone...you better go find him, and I'd hurry if I were you."

Berluti is an amazing man. If you ever wanna chat with him just stop by after his work is through with some cold Guinness and you will hear some wisdom.

Stroupe is looking for his speed.

#100, #14, & Alex swap stories and keep the track walk relaxed.

Brayton#10 is very quiet and to himself, this can intimidate most people, but he is a very nice guy. If you go introduce yourself to him, you will find this out for yourself. I enjoyed seeing him helping out youngster Nick Paluzzi#72 with the tracks evaluation. Justin is the next guy who should take his turn on the podium, I expect this soon. Nick has been riding very well since turning pro & I am happy to see this since I have thought highly of him and his father. Both have always been very polite & respectful to me.

Brooks is looking for more out of Regal. I don't believe he will find it, until they head outdoors.

Example of Johnny T. 
Before anyone notices he evaluates one of his many"adrenaline rush" opportunities of the evening.
He has just decided that he shall mud hop this obstacle. As Eli senses his pop is up to someth'n. 

He grabs his footing with his jeans neatly mud prepped into his boots as he has done many a rainy day on his ranch. With a smirk on his face he knows the kids are on to him and telling him he's not gonna make it...this only fuels his determination.

He launches like a runner out of the blocks and has complete focus on the fact that he needs pure speed. Momentum will get him across this, not a leap. A leap would send him down to the ground with too much force, sinking directly in the mud & this could be instant disaster. He needed to walk this water...light on his feet.

Long step and high speed.

He gracefully skims the top.

He regains his smirk...this time from victory.

The children went the "alternate route" simply to avoid a sprained ankle or worse, right before practice...but I do believe this is how rider's girlfriends usually cross track puddles.

#800 evaluates an obstacle and wonders if it will give him fits this evening. #41 glances at it and doesn't give it much thought and honors it with a yawn. I see a big confidence difference in these two riders. One looks scared, one does not.

#100 is probably telling Brooks of how he whipped it when he won with a broken hand two weeks ago, or about some chick that "hit him up" on twitter. 

You could tell Hanny's hand was a burden on his mind when inspecting the obstacles and mud.

There's the "Solitary Man" I know.

#22 is always great during track walk. Why? Because he "doesn't give a shit". While most people talk under their breath or don't even talk at all, Reed is vocal, happy, and always speaking his mind. He is a loud, fact speaking man and I respect these actions  and wish more would do the same. Here he greets and thanks  Eric Kehoe and Ray Blank from American Honda. He thanks them for the motorcycles they give him and hopes that his respect and his recent results will help in getting a parts allowance mid season to further help with his personal financial team efforts.

#41 and #1 joke with each other about who they are betting on tonight. 
Asterisk's Doc Bodnar is one of the nicest guys you will meet at these events. He always has a smile and hello when you face him, I've seen in his eyes many times, how much he cares about these racers. Just hope that your meeting with him is not a mandatory one.

"Practice...the storm starts brewing"

 #100 nursed his hand in the slippery conditions.

 The rain started coming down heavy during the first practice.

 Hanny turned it up for a few laps to "put the track together".

 #194 was blatantly the fastest out there...but not the most consistent.

 The consistency looked as if it belonged to Tomac as he carefully preps his goggles for a "hot lap".

 #28 looked very comfy in these rutted conditions.

 As did #20

 #23 shows speed but is on the ground often or mixed up in a bad start. These usually go hand in hand.

 #19 looked to be a favorite...again.

 #100 called it early and went back to try and save some of his pain tolerance, for he would need it this evening.

 Tomac kept clicking off faster laps in the pouring rain.

The rain stopped for the second practice but it made no difference for Hanson's worries. He spent most of the practice off of the track.

 It was the perfect opportunity for his competitors to improve their lap times.

Tickle was riding good.

 Stroupe rode conservative on the slick track.

 #22 was riding with confidence.

 Although it almost got ugly when he started coasting to clean his goggles with #24 behind him...with #24 not noticing the change in speed.

 With cat like reflexes I saw #24 swerve and duck under Reed's arm, catching his jersey on Reed's grip in the process. This was almost an ugly rear end accident just like the many I had witnessed on the 405 freeway while traveling here.

 Reed gathered himself and shook off the "near miss" incident. 

 Shorty looked good in practice.

 Dungey was smooth and cautious...consistency is key.

 #2 was his usual aggressive self and was fast.

 #10 did not stand out like I had seen before on certain days. It seems like "certain days" is one of Justin's m.o.'s. 

 Mike, Dude. It's just practice bro.

 #14 is an animal...

 Boni is hoping to bust into the top ten. He has been there before and I expect this again soon.

 Blose is searching for his expected finishing position as well.

 #800's cornering style needs some drastic changes if he ever wants to be more competitive. (You will see more photos of this further on in the story) Take notice of his posture compared to...well, everyone.






 The whoops were not as big and bad as they have made them the last few weeks. I wonder if they decided that it wasn't that good of an idea to injure the riders? Thank goodness...

 After practice the teams wash everything, inspect mud damage, & change any settings for the conditions from the info they gather during practice.

Some teams download information from the dirtbike's sophisticated computers.

 Brent & Dean inspect the clutch wear from the muddy conditions and opt for a new one before the racing starts.

 The #22 team does the same.

Chad uses 100psi of air pressure to rid his machine of water.

 Watson hangs out with famous rock star and hardcore moto fan Jordan Burns, drummer for the punk rock band "Strung Out" and one of the Moto XXX founding fathers.

"The Night Show"

The Asterisk medic crew strategically stake out their positions around the track to lend a hand in the cases of downed riders. They are at a riders' aid within seconds. This organization is the most valuable asset that the racers have during these events.

"250 Quali's"

 My long time little buddy, Kyle Cunningham #35, grabbed the start in the first 250 heat.

On the first lap of the night program, riders needed to be careful when they drifted onto the starting straight, due to the fact that the track workers scrape the nice fluff off of the hard packed base between most races, Kyle forgot about this with the excitement of winning going through his head.

 Sorry Buddy...

 Paluzzi was now our new leader.

But Decotis #66 was charging hard behind him.

Next was the Kawi teammates battling for the 3rd position.

In true "Rudy" fashion, #66 set up a pass for the lead in the whoops.

#66 decided to strike towards the end of the race with a semi-aggressive pass. He takes aim on Nick's nice billet aluminum fork lug and grabs the throttle.
If he had looked forward more, instead of at Nick's wheel he would have grabbed the lead and maybe even the win.

But this caused both of them to slow when they tangled, which allowed Tickle #20 to pass them and take the lead. If you notice Brock cutting inside, this was because he had been watching this bang fest brew up and knew this would be his opportunity to win.


Heat #2's hole shot honors went to #194

He went on to ride to victory...unchallenged.

Behind him #19 #100 & #36 were had a tight battle. #23 wanted to get in on it as well, but he found himself on the ground early on.

Tomac rode smoothly and took his second place qualifying position, for he knew the meaningful race...was still to come.

#100 was in survival mode, trying to be as gentle as he could with his broken bone. This was tough with #36 "knocking on his door."

#194 is one fast, mud riding, German.

"450cc Quali's"
#2 and #41 came out on top after the start.

Early on, Canard had his eyes set on the lead.

#22 and #9 were battling for third.

#76 had other obstacles to think about.

Canard checks to see if he has a time cushion over third place.

#2 was smoking fast, I expected him to win the main event later.

#22 and #9 kept chasing the front runners.

#2 did not falter and took the top spot in picking out his starting gate for the main event.

Do they feed the help around here???...Can someone please get this gal a burrito or something? She must be a city girl, because I can't see her being much help out on the farm, come harvest season...being so skinny, and all.

Shorty gets a really good jump out of the gate on his 350cc machine.

But it was #7 out front, & with a clean track ahead...He was gone.

3rd through 8th was a tight battle.

#800 would have stayed up further if he had better corner speed, but with his unorthodox riding style, he will only go backwards from here.

Shorty clears his vision before a strike.

#14 was moving forward very fast, as if, he has ridden in deep Mississippi mud before.

Shorty knows he has this pass made, unless his teammate does something stupid to take them both out.

Shorty makes the pass with no rubbing involved.

He then cleans his vision and keeps charging forward. #29 was riding very well.

#800 had to toss his goggles for what reason I do not know. 
Maybe his goggle builder was distracted by a burrito or something while assembling the goggles? 
Maybe Ping was right, and you can't trust the mechanical vision systems?
Maybe he didn't like the color?
Maybe he wanted to play Russian roulette with rocks to his eyeballs?
Maybe he needed a valid reason for going backwards in the field?
Whatever the reason was, it didn't look safe.

I needed to get some info on Shorty's improving results, so I contacted the unofficial/self appointed/self medicated President of his fan club who is only know as "Moz." Now, I got his number from a inter-web friend of mine named Dave, who said he had gotten it off of a Love's truck stop bathroom wall in TX, while shopping for a new elk/eagle/wolf pack/full moon combo T-shirt. He guaranteed me that this Moz guy was the "legit deal." Now I don't know, nor care, if Dave was "looking for love in all the wrong places" down there in TX, that doesn't matter, what does, is that I have a source! When I contacted Moz he listened to my question, paused, then recited one sentence and hung up the phone...Savvy

  "#29 is the sexiest freight train you've ever seen, takes a few races to get up to speed, but impossible to stop!" 


Stewart was definitely the winner of this race.

Towards the end of the race, the beloved #14 hit the ground.

It looked as if his wrist was broken from the pain. The Asterisk's medic was at his side within seconds.

They loaded him into the medical mule & drove him up to the Mobile medical center, where he was looked over by doctors...

"Main Events"

250cc Main
 Mechanics wear special boots in this muck to aid them in clearing the riders' launch pad.

 The Kawi team has foam on their lids so mud does not stick and make them into a living bobble head doll.

 Tomac knows he has this start. I recognize this look from Oakland, 3 weeks ago.

 Hanny looked very uncertain on the line...and he has every right.

 He checks on the others to see if they are worried also.

 I hope he doesn't look at the #19's smile...that will do nothing for his confidence.

It looks as if Hanny caught a glimpse of Tomac's grin.

 #71 knows these weather conditions well. He grew up in NorCal.

 In these conditions some riders take their "sighting lap" and some decline. This is a catch twenty two, they either view the track and gain about 20 pounds of mud to their bike, or sit on the gate with a fresh bike and a cold body for the start.

 The other gal came back from her dinner break in time for the main, at least she gets to eat. This gal looks more like she could buck some hay bails if I needed help during harvest.

 #19 launches out of the gate towards his left while #100 heads right.

 They sandwich out Josh's teammate and head down the straight in a drag race.

#19 had the pull to get there first.

 He sets up for the first turn and his bonus $$$$.. 

 Tomac and Hansen put themselves in a very comfortable position. And remember that they both took the sighting lap? It looks as if warming up their body and bike with a...ah heck, let's call it a "warmup lap" is more beneficial than an extra 20lbs. 

 My gut tightened as I started to realize Eli could be making the exact mistake that #35 had made in the heat race earlier, when he started to slide on the fresh grade.

But he rode his bike sideways as if he was Bruce Penhall on a speedway track. 

 He lost some time to Hansen, but held on to the lead. He gathered his composure, cleared his vision, and started his lesson, on how to win in San Diego.

 He was amazing from here on out.

 Hey, there's Rudy in third, hammering down on handicapped Hanny!

 Josh almost through it away a few laps in.

 But not many of you may know that he is one of the, if not thee, most naturally talented racers out there. So, he pulled it off in true Hanny fashion and kept his title hopes alive.

~Editors note: Warning! The above words could be considered "fightin' words" to Windham fans.

 Meanwhile #19 was still teaching class.

I wish this had not happened. I like Ryan. 

 Eli looked like a multi time champion the way he rode this track.

He soon had to start slicing his way through lappers and I got a little nervous. But he rode as if they weren't even there,  his focus was on winning.

 One by one the riders started to go by #100 as he could not hold them off any longer.

 I believe the #800 could benefit from a "#19 "cornering clinic."

 Hansen's teammates hunt him down, and bring Kyle Cunningham along for the ride.

 It's like Eli's genetic build was structured specifically for that motorcycle...do they make bionic kids now a days?

#35 gets around the now slowing Hansen, but Josh decided that he would rather have the extra title point than Kyle in front of him.

 So he takes his point back.

Kyle, buddy, you should know to never pass a rebel like Hanny, then go wide? Lucky for Kyle, it wasn't Rusty Holland on that #100, or he and his bike would have landed about 10 rows up in the bleachers. 

 Hanny barely got away without taking himself out, too. 
Kyle got away uninjured, and with new wisdom.

 Seely #36 and the Kawi boys is where the real action was during this race. They all rode very well.

 They were this close most of the race.

 But far away from, first time Supercross winner Eli Tomac #19.

 Eli did not weep from joy on the podium, He had the laugh of a young man who has been preparing and thinking of this night, for as long as, his memory can reach.

 #20 is very close to the series points lead of Hansen's. 

This is a very proud father.

Proud racer.

 Proud mechanic

 Proud team.

Proud man friend/video guy

Eli's eyes are shut on the podium as he reminisces of the many childhood dreams he's had of standing in this spot, on this night...his night.

Congratulations Eli!

"The Bad Boys"
450cc main

 There are many faces and situations on the starting line that the spectators miss. Brayton #10 has the 1000-yard stare...like that of a Vietnam Vet, half way through his 3rd tour of duty. His mechanic Patrick, quadruple checks his gate to make sure it is pristine. IT #9 looks as if he is sittin' under an old Oak tree, on an early spring day, back on a TX farm. As for Berluti...Tony throws the "what up" sign, and flashes an inviting grin, one that let's you know, that you are his friend.

 Dungey often has the look, as if he knows, he has much more competition this year than he had last season...someone must have told him.

 Villopoto just gained an edge, by taking a glance at #1's fears.

 All of the riders had a fear of the storm that was teetering on the edge of this stadium.

 Ivan and Tony glance up at the black clouds creeping over the stadium walls, and into the cheap seats.

 James sees the storm coming as well.

 He starts searching for the other rider's reactions.

 Trey and Brent both know the disaster capabilities of a mud race, being Oklahoma natives they have endured their share of 'em. 

As the gate dropped, #41 has a bit too much traction as he launches. #2 and #7 sit on the gate, maybe their launch pads where not prepped properly, or they let everyone go for a fair chance, or their reaction time was blurred by the rain that had started coming down hard? 

#2 is now in a very bad spot. #30 is off balance and heading into him, you can notice that #2 is already off balance himself, and heading right into the back of the #1 machine. #41 is also trying to correct his bike's direction while giving his best #800 cornering impression.

#41 holds it on and straightens out his steed, with no harm done. While #18 decides to ride a cool wheelie half way down the start straight, that's what I call "takin' care of your fans."

As #2 starts to look as if he is going down, # 7 takes a gander to the inside, to see who he is going to have to "come over on" in the first turn...dude, James, you're missing Millsap's sick wheelie!

Now Reed #22 comes from the outside with more momentum than the inside riders, who will have to brake heavier to prepare for their sharper first turn.

It still looks as if the #1 and #41 will be side by side in the lead.

But Reedy holds it on longer, and spoils these boys' happy thoughts.

Reed was our first leader, and the proud owner of another jumbo hole shot check. #41 clears the start straight mud from his goggles, and prepares to take the lead soon.

~Editors note: Where the hell did Shorty come from on that 350cc machine? Moz was right!

Just like the #35 and # 19 in the quali's, Reed slides on the fresh grading during the first lap.

But being the veteran champion that he is, he pulls it together and starts clicking off his flawless laps. 

#1 and #7 safely make their way around ol' stiff leg in the corner and start charging after #29, #41, and #22.

The rain was intensifying, but it did not seem to effect #22, what so ever.

#41 was faster, and started to set Reed up for a pass.

One lap later, the #41 was in charge. His sticker coming off of his radiator shroud did not seem to affect his speed.

I now thought my buddy Trey, was going to win this race. 

#7 was in 3rd place, and did not look like he was riding to his potential.

#7 was gifted 2nd place after #41 had a tip over in the mud.

#1 was sitting back in 4th place, riding smooth and conservatively.

Reed was on a mission, and looking no where except straight ahead, at a traffic free, mud covered course.

#7 was riding noticeably slower than any spectator is used to watching. It was as if, his team got through to him about the fact that he needs to be safe and conservative in the mud, because there are still 10 rounds left after this danger zone he has to cross tonight. Or perhaps he was injured from a practice crash and the team is keeping this secret "under wraps?" Regardless, this was not the #7 everyone knows. Could he actually have a game plan that was not thrown out the window when the gate dropped and he did not find himself  in the lead...for once?

After his first crash the #41 kept his eye on the #7 and kept charging.

#1 decided to join Trey in a charge that put both of them back up onto the rear fender of #7.

Right as they latched onto him, #7 stalls his bike, which lets #41 and #1 move onto the podium without a fight.

Now back into 2nd place, Canard might have been going a bit too fast. The outcome was his second front-end washout of the night, which changed his "thought to be win" to a fourth place finish.

Reedy was the professor in this race. 

Here we have #2's temporary teammate, he is Kawasaki's substitute rider for the #32 ride of the injured Jake Weimer. French SX tour champion Fabien Izoird #321 was in the top ten during the start of the race, but ended his night in 13th position.

Dungey's consistent and conservative riding landed him a 2nd place trophy and some very valuable series points.

Shorty rode extremely well in the mud.

#2 had an unfortunate series of events. His adventures kicked off on the start straight when he almost crashed over #1's wheel. This is what landed him in the traffic end of the pack, where he got banged around and ended up on the ground, his rear fender and front number plate were flopping around so he had to stop to have them removed. Ryan was in dead last. He then headed back onto the track and fought his way through the abundance of mud and racers to gather a final finishing position of 7th. Thank you for the amazing display of "true grit" Ryan!

To keep his track record straight the #800 worked his way from 5th back to 9th. Notice, he changed to the non-mechanical goggle system for the main event.
Reed deserved this win more than anyone that was on the Track tonight. Why? Because he earned it!

As Stewart's mechanic consoles him about his 3rd place finish. #7's "man friend" patiently waits for his turn, in doing the same.

Villopoto's Mechanic has one thing to say..."Dude, you're badass!"

Shorty inspects the podium to see who had finish just ahead of him.

Canard knows he threw away tonight's win...twice.

Reed had this to say...

"Aussie, Aussie, Aussie!"

#1 always reminds the cameras and crowd of where his paychecks come from, accompanied with a familiar smile, like that of a politician during an election campaign.

#7 looked very absorbed in his mental replay of how his 3rd place finish came about. If there is one thought that went through James' head on that podium, I will bet money that it was something along the lines of..."Man, if I hadn't slowed down like the team told me, I wouldn't have stalled, I would have won, & I would be leaving the West Coast with the points lead." But this is merely my guess, for a friendly gentleman's wager. 

3rd place: James Stewart      1st place: Chad Reed      2nd place, Ryan Dungey 

#22 does his best Gene Simmons impression as Lars greets his victory shower with a wide open mouth...there is nothing in this world that taste as sweet as 100% pure victory...

The runner ups, then treat Reedy to his own taste of the sweet victory nectar.

Followed by a congratulations. They, if anyone, are well aware of the efforts he put forth, as well as, the risks he took on this dangerous evening.

Well deserved, boyzzzz...now go straight to the pub, and don't stop clinking mugs until daybreak!

Good on you Reedy!!!

#7 has a limo waiting for him at the bottom of the podium, his chauffeur/bodyguard informs the paparazzi to "back off" with his cold stare and clinched fist, while the "man friend" eagerly awaits James' arrival, as he caresses the #7's lid.

~editor's note: I believe his body guard would look much more convincing if he had a sicko "Yosemite Sam" mustache, just say'n....

By the looks of all three faces here, there is something going on over in the Stewart camp that many people are unaware of...

Thank you for reading my story. I will leave you with two of my more favorite, "off the wall" quotes that I had acquired while being in the presence of these strange and amazing personalities known as "moto dudes."

Referring to the hotel breakfast buffet:

" I can't believe they are allowed to sell this shit...it is not fit for human consumption."

~T. Berluti 

Referring to...nothing:

"Did I ever tell you about the time I took Vince Neil's jacket out of Hart's closet and there was still a bag of mushrooms in the pocket from 1989...it was from the Dr. Feel good tour. It's true! I still have the jacket, want me to send you a pic? It has Vince sewn on the back!"

~ D. Mahoney 


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