Courtesy of Team Suzuki Press Office
Team Suzuki Press Office – February 29.
14th-place finish would not normally solicit a smile from Yoshimura
Suzuki Factory Racing’s James Stewart, but considering the Atlanta
Supercross on Saturday, in front of 61,683 at the Georgia Dome, marked
the first Monster Energy AMA Supercross finish in nearly two years for
the former champion, he viewed the race as an accomplishment.
finished the race in Atlanta hampered physically after jamming his knee
in a qualifying race earlier in the evening. Many riders might have
called it a night, but Stewart was determined to get a finish and he
soldiered on even though he was far from 100 per cent. For Stewart,
Atlanta marked what he hopes will be the beginning of a climb back to
competitiveness after battling back from injury this season, which kept
him off the Yoshimura Suzuki RM-Z450 for most of the year.
Atlanta the results were not quite what fans have come to expect from
one of the all-time greats of AMA Supercross, but as Stewart later
explained, top results were not his primary goal on this night. He
simply wanted to compete and get a race finish under his belt. The goal
may have been modest, but to come back from what Stewart has gone
through, he was happy to accomplish what he set out to do.
finished timed qualifying in 12th. He then ran second in his heat race
before crashing late. That put him in the semi where he qualified for
the Main Event, but in the process he badly jammed his knee. Even though
there was considerable discomfort, he was doggedly determined to race,
He ran in the top 10 early on in the Main and
eventually finished 14th. The fact of where he finished didn’t matter as
much as it normally might - Stewart was content for now just to get
back into the swing of racing.
“I’m just happy to be back and
playing in the dirt,” Stewart said of Atlanta. “Today we worked on
testing new pieces on the bike. We haven’t had a lot of testing time, so
we came here and we were making a lot of changes. We made the bike a
lot better for the heat race, but unfortunately I went down on the
“I went to the semi and was running third, all
good, then I jumped in that dragon’s back and jammed my knee pretty
good. After that it was kind of survival mode. Even though in the Main
Event it was kind of survival mode, I refused to pull off. I’m happy we
got through the weekend. It’s the first supercross race I’ve finished
since April of 2014. I got 20 laps in and we’ll build off that. We’ve
got some work to do, but you’ve got to start somewhere.”
Stewart said he is looking to move up as the season progresses.
found some things that worked well on the bike here and I think that’s
going to make us better in the next few races,” Stewart explained. “14th
is not the finish I wanted, but it’s better than a DNF. We’ll get
Stewart’s Yoshimura Suzuki team-mate Blake Baggett
continues to rehab an injured shoulder. So far he’s not set a timetable
for his return. It will be dictated by the progress of his shoulder.
The series now heads to the legendary Daytona International Speedway next weekend for the Daytona Supercross.
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