Lusk and Stewart go four-for-four by sweeping both main events and heat races
Phoenix—Team Chevy Trucks Kawasaki riders turned in perfect performances on Saturday night in Phoenix as Ezra Lusk and James Stewart went four-for-four by winning both 250 and 125 main events and heat races. The event was played before 48,445 at Bank One Ballpark and was the second round of the 16-race THQ AMA Supercross Series.
Lusk, who finished eighth last week in Anaheim, was looking to get back on track and make a statement in Phoenix that he contender for the 250 title.
In his heat race, Lusk got off the line well and shot to the early lead. He held a slim advantage over Chad Reed for the first six laps before a mistake in one of the rhythm sections cost him the lead. Lusk kept on Reed’s rear tire, and on the last lap, used a block pass in the second to last turn to take the win setting up a much-anticipated main event.
As was the case in the heat race, both Lusk and Reed got good starts but this time they were joined by defending champion Ricky Carmichael as the trio started to pull away from the field. Reed held the early lead, with Lusk and Carmichael right on his tail. On Lap 7, Carmichael bowed out of the battle after sliding out in a turn, leaving the battle to Lusk and Reed. Lusk hunted for the lead, and on Lap 16, he took advantage of a Reed bobble and charged into the lead. Lusk rode a determined final four laps and took home his first win since 1999, much to the delight of the supportive crowd.
“I can’t tell you how much this means to me with how much is going on in my life,” said Lusk, referring to the start of the season coupled with his wife Jennifer expecting their first baby. “I still believed that I could go out there and win. I’ve been competitive the past few years but not as competitive as I feel right now with my new ’03 Kawasaki.
“I had a couple good battles with Chad in the heat and the main. After finishing so poorly last week at Anaheim I knew that I had to get the job done in Phoenix to get this going in the right direction. I’m heading home to Georgia to check on my wife and I’ll be back to race next week in Anaheim.”
Team Pro Circuit/Kawasaki/Chevy Trucks rider Mike Brown, who will race in the first five rounds on a 250 before returning to 125 Eastern Region Supercross competition, finished 18th in the main event.
With the win, Lusk skyrocketed into fourth place in the standings and now trails Reed by only nine points, 47 to 38. He also sits only two points from second place, which is occupied by Carmichael and Tim Ferry with 40 points.
In the 125 class, Stewart started the night off with a dominating win in his heat race, winning by nearly 12 seconds. Team Pro Circuit/Kawasaki/Chevy Trucks rider Matt Walker finished a strong fourth and qualified for the main event, while teammate Eric Sorby qualified from the LCQ.
Walker and Stewart got off the line well to start the 15-lap feature event and were running in second and fourth, respectively, at the end of the first lap. Sorby was in ninth. Walker moved to lead on Lap 4 as Stewart was struggling to find his rhythm as he battled Craig Anderson and Travis Preston. Two laps later, Stewart went blazing past Walker and took over the lead. Once out front, Stewart never looked back, winning by more than eight seconds. The win was Stewarts fifth of his Supercross career and second in a row at Bank One Ballpark. Walker collided with Preston while battling on Lap 10 and dropped back to finish 14th. Sorby rode well the entire race and finished seventh.
“The first couple of laps were crazy out there,” said Stewart during the post-race press conference. “I didn’t get that great a start ? I just tried to keep it up in the beginning and once I got around Matt I just rode my own race and pulled away.
On this trrack you had to bump somebody to pass them. I made a couple of mistakes when Travis was behind me and I had to worry about trying to pass Matt and having him behind me. I didn’t get excited. This year I am a little bit smarter.”
Stewart is now tied for the series lead with Preston at 47 points apiece.
Walker is in ninth place and Sorby is 13th.
Team Chevy Trucks Kawasaki now heads back to California for the second of three races this Saturday (Jan. 18) at Edison Field in Anaheim, Calif.