2008 U.S. Open Race Report – Night One

2008 Rockstar Energy Drink U.S. Open – Night One
By Kyle Cowling
Photos by Garth Milan

This weekends marks the 10th consecutive year of the U.S. Open at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas, Nevada. And, as you know, anything can happen in Vegas. This year, however, is a truly monumental occasion. Not only has there been a lot of hype surrounding the Legends race featuring Damon Bradshaw and Jeff Matiasevich (the knockdown drag out battle that never seemed to emerge), but also two of the biggest names in our sport were debuting their new rides for the 2009 season: Chad Reed aboard his Rockstar/Makita/Suzuki and James Stewart aboard his L & M San Manual Yamaha. On top of that, defending U.S. Open champion, Grant Langston, is still M.I.A. as he continues to struggle with issues to his eye. "I've had surgery, and I am going to radiation therapy" said Langston. “I had melanoma of the eye, which is cancer. Thankfully, the cancer itself has been removed, so we’ll see how things go from here,” continued Langston. Cool G was introduced in the opening ceremonies and it was obvious it was an emotional/frustrating moment for GL as he become a little choked up in the midst of speaking to the Vegas vans.

Though Stewart hasn't had much seat time aboard his YZF450, Bubba looked right at home aboard his new ride as he set the fastest qualifying times in practice, won his heat race, and the main event in convincing fashion. Meanwhile Reed was second fastest in practice, won his heat race, and then ran into some trouble only two turns after the start of the main event and that was that… Reed's main event lasted all of two turns. For all of the details from night one of the U.S. Open, continue on for everything you need to know.

HEAT 1 (Top Three Advance)
In the first heat race of the evening, Jacob Marsack took the holeshot, just edging out Red Bull Honda's Ivan Tedesco. Tedesco, however, would quickly find himself on the ground, dropping to last place. At the conclusion of the first lap, MDK/KTM's Justin Brayton was able to work his way around Marsack to take over the first place position. Yamaha's Josh Hill was also able to move his way around Marsack for second place and Rockstar/Makita/Suzuki's Michael Byrne also found his way around the number 66 of Marsack, dropping the Michigan native to fourth place. While Brayton was able to put a gap between himself and Hill, Byrne was slowly inching closer to Hill. Unfortunately for the Suzuki pilot, he would run out of time and was unable to make a move on the Yamaha rider. A little further back, Hot Sauce was able to put on a charge and find his way all the way up to fifth place.

1. Justin Brayton (KTM)
2. Josh Hill (YAM)
3. Michael Byrne (SUZ)

HEAT 2 (Top Three Advance)
At the drop of the gate, Yamaha's Broc Hepler took the holeshot while Geico Powersports Honda's Dan Reardon was just behind him in second and Chad Reed in third. Just behind the lead trio was Red Bull Honda's Andrew Short. Reed was able to find his way around Reardon and quickly made a charge on Hepler. Just before the half waypoint, CR22 made his way around the Yamaha rider in the whoop section to take control of the lead. Shorty also followed suet, moving around Reardon and Hepler. To the surprise of many, the number 29 of Short was able to reel in Reed and ran his front wheel in on Reed a couple of times. Unfortunately, Shorty was unable to make anything stick as he was forced to settle for second place.

1. Chad Reed (SUZ)
2. Andrew Short (HON)
3. Broc Hepler (YAM)

HEAT 3 (Top Three Advance)

Taking the holeshot in the third heat race of the evening was Rockstar/Makita/Suzuki's Ryan Dungey, who, on a Lites bike, was able to edge out James Stewart. Unfortunately for the likes of Matt Boni, Jason Thomas, and Nico Izzi, they were involved in a pile up just before the finish line, which forced Thomas to watch on from the sidelines. Meanwhile, back up front, Stewart found his way around the Lites machine of Dungey to take over the lead. Just behind the two leaders was Xtreme/Motorsports/Kawasaki's Tommy Hahn. Bubba would wash out just before the finish line, allowing Dungey to once again regain of the lead. Stewart, however, would waste no time reeling in the Suzuki pilot and again made his way around Dungey. Only one lap later, though, Stewart would have a miscue in a timing section and, you guessed it, Dungey would be the benefactor of Stewart's mistake to again take control of the lead. But it wasn't for long as the number seven of Stewart found himself yet again making a pass on the Suzuki pilot for the lead. This time, it would stick until the checkered flag was out.

1. James Stewart (YAM)
2. Ryan Dungey (SUZ)
3. Thomas Hahn (KAW)

SEMI 1 Winner: Ivan Tedesco (HON)
SEMI 2 Winner: Kyle Chisholm (YAM)
SEMI 3 Winner: Nico Izzi (SUZ)

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LCQ 1 Winner: Dan Reardon (HON)
LCQ 2 Winner: Chris Blose (HON)

After an evening of qualifying, it was time to drop the gate for the first main event of the weekend. Yamaha's James Stewart took the holeshot while Chad Reed only made it to the second corner before he was knocked on the ground and started second to last (Dungey washed out in the first turn and was left behind by the entire field). Things only got worse for Reedy as he pulled off the track immediately after picking himself up off the ground. Meanwhile, up front, Bubba was beginning to check out, but not too far behind the number seven machine was Red Bull Honda's Ivan Tedesco and privateer Chris Blose. Heat one winner Justin Brayton eventually found his way around Blose to take over the third spot. Red Bull Honda's Andrew Short also made his way around Blose before setting his sights on the KTM pilot, Brayton. Shorty would, however, make his way around JB114 for the third position. While Stewart continued to pull away from the rest of the field, Tedesco, Shorty and Brayton all tangled in a corner before the finish line. Hot Sauce was literally lying on top of Shorty and his bike and Brayton had nowhere to go but on top of those two. Tedesco was able to remount and hold onto second, but Shorty was forced to pull off the track. With the mistakes by Hot Sauce, Shorty, and Brayton, it allowed Josh Hill to move into the third spot and began putting all kinds of pressure on Tedesco for second. While Hill was trying to find his way around Hot Sauce, Dungey, who had started dead last, was able to use the slick and narrow track to his advantage as he moved up to fifth place by the time the checkered flag came out. Back to the Hill/Tedesco battle… Hill was able to find his way around the Honda pilot, however, it was only after the AMA had a miscue and waved the white flag two laps in a row. When the checkered flag did come out it was Stewart, Hill, and Tedesco; however, the AMA credited Ivan with second place since Hill made his way around Tedesco on the second white flag, which should have been the checkered flag. "I wasn't really feeling it today," said Hill. "People were falling and making mistakes all over the place, so things were kind of handed to me, but I am pretty stoked," continued Hill when asked about this third place performance.

1. James Stewart (YAM)
2. Ivan Tedesco (HON)
3. Josh Hill (YAM)
4. Justin Brayton (KTM)
5. Ryan Dungey (SUZ)
6. Broc Hepler (YAM)
7. Michael Byrne (SUZ)
8. Thomas Hahn (KAW)
9. Nico Izzi (SUZ)
10. Kyle Chisholm (YAM)
11. Chris Blose (HON)
12. Andrew Short (HON)
13. Dan Reardon (HON)
14. Chad Reed (SUZ)