Race Report:
Jeremy McGrath Invitational, Friday Program

The riders, fans and press alike were a little unsure of what to expect at the opening night of the inaugural Jeremy McGrath Invitational (JMI). With a never-before-seen track design, a unique race format, and the biggest purse ever in Supercross at $500,000, there was uncertainty in the air tonight at the Home Depot Center in Carson, CA.

Unfortunately that uncertainty would continue throughout the night as the event suffered from a lack of communication to the fans. If you didn’t have an event program in your hands, you had little idea what was happening and what the significance was of the race you were watching at any given moment. Some simple signage on the Home Depot Center big screen would have gone a long way to improve the experience for the fans on-hand.

The JMI is actually two events in one: a head-to-head single-elimination bracket race, and a more traditional Supercross main event. Riders qualify for the head-to-head racing through a timed qualifier, while all 20 invited riders race the main event, with gate picks determined by a shorter first moto. The overall JMI champion is determined through combined scores in the main event. According to event staff we spoke with tonight, there is no overall winner in the head-to-head bracket race; rather there is a winner each night.

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FAST LAP QUALIFYING

The first event on the docket was Fast Lap Qualifying, which is essentially a timed practice that would determine who moves on to the Head-to-Head Single-Elimination Bracket races. After two heats of qualifying, the top 16 riders with the fastest lap times would move on.

In the first heat, Robbie Reynard hit the track first and was quickly followed by eight other riders, including Kevin Windham, Jeremy McGrath, Josh Grant and David Vuillemin.

In an unfortunate turn of events for the inaugural race, Jeremy McGrath went down while going over a double just following the whoop section. MC was quickly tended to by the Asterisk Medical crew and would walk off the track under his own power, but would be unable to race the Friday program and is questionable for Saturday.

Josh Grant was looking very fast aboard his CRF250R, but it was his Sobe/Samsung Mobile/Honda teammate, Kevin Windham, with the fastest lap time at 57.6 seconds at the end of the first group of fast lap qualifying.

Travis Pastrana, Josh Hansen, and Nick Wey come out in the second group to see if they could top K-Dub’s time. Early on it looked like Nick Wey and Pastrana were putting down the fastest laps and could be contending for the pole, but in the end Windham’s time would stand as the fastest with Josh Grant and The King himself, Jeremy McGrath, rounding out the top three.

Top-16 in Fast Lap Qualifying (Riders that would go on to compete in the head-to-head bracket racing):
1. Kevin Windham (57.6 seconds)
2. Josh Grant (58.3)
3. Nick Wey (58.6)
4. Travis Pastrana (59.1)
5. Jeremy McGrath (59.2)
6. Josh Hansen (59.5)
7. Eric Sorby (59.6)
8. David Vuillemin (59.7)
9. Heath Voss (59.8)
10. Greg Schnell (1:00.6)
11. Jeff Dement (1:00.9)
12. Danny Smith (1:01.0)
13. Chad Johnson (1:01.1)
14. Jason Thomas (1:01.3)
15. Ryan Clark (1:01.3)
16. Robbie Reynard (1:01.6)

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MOTO ONE

In the mixed racing program, results in the eight-lap “Moto One would determine gate picks in the final race of the night, the Main Event.

When the gate dropped, Kevin Windham charged off the covered starting line to grab the holeshot, followed by Jeff Dement, Danny Smith and Nick Wey. NYK quickly passed up to second place as Windham pulled away to a sizeable lead on the second lap. Josh Grant also moved quickly throh the pack, moving into third place behind Wey.

For the next several laps the top five was Windham, Wey, Grant, Dement and Smith. However, behind them David Vuillemin was charging through the pack, and Les Cobra would eventually finish in fourth.

Josh Grant continued to charge, but a get-off on lap six, and subsequent difficulty re-firing his Honda would leave him sitting towards the back of the pack.

At the end of the moto, Windham finished in the lead—a theme that would continue throughout the night—followed by Wey, Smith, Vuillemin and Dement rounding out the top five.

Moto One Results (Unofficial):
1. Kevin Windham
2. Nick Wey
3. Danny Smith
4. David Vuillemin
5. Jeff Dement
6. Josh Hansen
7. Eric Sorby
8. Jiri Dostal
9. Jason Thomas
10. Kyle Lewis
11. Heath Voss
12. Josh Grant
13. Kyle Mace
14. Ryan Clark
15. Justin Mace
16. Greg Schnell

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HEAD-TO-HEAD, SINGLE-ELIMINATION BRACKET RACES

The head-to-head, single-elimination racing is definitely what sets this race apart from any other Supercross we’ve seen. Unfortunately most of the head-to-head races started a little slow as favored riders pulled away to predictable wins in the short two-lap races. However, after the first round of eliminations, things got a little more exciting in the Windham vs. Voss heads up race. The two veterans jumped off the starting line nearly dead even and carried that through the first lap as they exchanged the lead. The suspense ended when Windham passed Voss in the first turn of lap two and rode home to the win, advancing to the next round.

When Travis Pastrana faced-off against Josh Hansen the crowd was treated to a surprise backflip in the first lap as Pastrana just couldn’t resist throwing a big back flip when he hit the first metal ramp on the course. While the flip definitely pumped up the crowd, it also gave Hansen the chance to get by Pastrana, taking the lead. Josh held off a few aggressive advances from Pastrana to move on to the next round.

By the end of the head-to-head round of racing, it was the two Sobe/Samsung/Honda teammates left standing, and although Grant definitely rode hard, putting one pass on Windham in the first lap of the final head-to-head race, his Lites class bike couldn’t hold off the veteran’s CRF450R. Windham got back by Grant and took the win.

Head-to-Head Bracket, First Elimination (winner in bold):

  • Kevin Windham vs. Jiri Dostal
  • Heath Voss vs. Greg Schnell
  • Josh Hansen vs. Chad Johnson
  • Travis Pastrana vs. Jason Thomas
  • Danny Smith vs. Eric Sorby
  • Nick Wey vs. Robbie Reynard
  • David Vuillemin vs. Jeff Dement
  • Josh Grant vs. Kyle Mace

Head-to-Head Bracket, Second Elimination:

  • Kevin Windham vs. Heath Voss
  • Josh Hansen vs. Travis Pastrana
  • Nick Wey vs. Danny Smith
  • Josh Grant vs. David Vuillemin

Head-to-Head Bracket, Third Elimination:

  • Kevin Windham vs. Josh Hansen
  • Josh Grant vs. Nick Wey

Final Head-to-Head Race

  • Kevin Windham vs. Josh Grant

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MAIN EVENT

The night concluded with a traditional 16-lap Main Event race. Eric Sorby was the fastest rider out of the gate, but was quickly passed by Kevin Windham. After the third lap the running order was Windham out front, followed by Sorby, Josh Grant, Jeff Dement and Heath Voss. Grant made it past Sorby early in the race, and settled into a steady pace, holding onto second for the remainder of the main event.

Sorby held his own in third for a few laps, but eventually he found Nick Wey nipping at his rear axle blocks. A small stumble by Sorby after the finish line jump allowed Wey to get by and take over third place. Soon after, Nick’s new MDK/Honda teammate, David Vuillemin would also get past Sorby. Meanwhile, at the front of the pack K-Dub was pulling away to a sizeable lead.

About half way through the race, the front-runners settled into a steady pace of Windham, Grant, Wey and Vuillemin. Eventually Heath Voss took over fifth place from Sorby (who would fade back to tenth place), and in the end that is how they would finish.

Main Event Results (unofficial):
1. Kevin Windham
2. Josh Grant
3. Nick Wey
4. David Vuillemin
5. Heath Voss
6. Danny Smith
7. Jason Thomas
8. Chad Johnson
9. Kyle Lewis
10. Eric Sorby

With wins in both the Head-to-Head Bracket and the Main Event, Kevin Windham took home a cool $60,000 of the much talked about prize purse.

e remainder of the main event.

Sorby held his own in third for a few laps, but eventually he found Nick Wey nipping at his rear axle blocks. A small stumble by Sorby after the finish line jump allowed Wey to get by and take over third place. Soon after, Nick’s new MDK/Honda teammate, David Vuillemin would also get past Sorby. Meanwhile, at the front of the pack K-Dub was pulling away to a sizeable lead.

About half way through the race, the front-runners settled into a steady pace of Windham, Grant, Wey and Vuillemin. Eventually Heath Voss took over fifth place from Sorby (who would fade back to tenth place), and in the end that is how they would finish.

Main Event Results (unofficial):
1. Kevin Windham
2. Josh Grant
3. Nick Wey
4. David Vuillemin
5. Heath Voss
6. Danny Smith
7. Jason Thomas
8. Chad Johnson
9. Kyle Lewis
10. Eric Sorby

With wins in both the Head-to-Head Bracket and the Main Event, Kevin Windham took home a cool $60,000 of the much talked about prize purse.