Words and Photos by Brendan Lutes

Inside the warm confines of the Georgia Dome in Atlanta, Georgia, in front of a near capacity crowd, and live on Speed TV, the eighth round of the series wrapped up with San Manuel Band of Mission Indians/Yamaha's James Stewart taking his seventh win of the season and seventh win in a row. For Stewart, the win solidified his place at the top of the points standings and served noticed to his competition that he indeed is the rider to beat in this year's Monster Energy AMA Supercross Series. But for the defending champion, and Stewart's main rival, Rockstar/Makita/Suzuki's Chad Reed, Stewart's seventh win has left him even more determined than ever to get to the top step on the podium. Reed's runner-up finish in Atlanta, however, is once again due largely to a mediocre start, which held him back from the beginning, forcing him to climb back up to second after rounding the first turn in seventh.
In the Lites class, Mitch Payton's powerhouse Monster Energy/Pro Circuit/Kawasaki team continues to dominate, as teammates Austin Stroupe and Christophe Pourcel ran one-two for over half the race until Stroupe stalled his bike, allowing Pourcel to go by for an easy win. With two rounds in the books, Pourcel enjoys a relatively comfortable eight-point lead over Atlanta's second place finisher Rockstar/Makita/Suzuki's Nico Izzi.


Heat One:
When the gate dropped for the start of the first race of the evening, Moto Concepts/Honda's newest recruit Vince Friese jumped out to the early lead as the pack rounded the first turn. It wasn't long, though, before Monster Energy/Pro Circuit/Kawasaki's Austin Stroupe got around him—the Kawasaki rider did so on the first lap—and began to pull away. With that, Stroupe was never challenged. Friese, however, dropped back to fourth by the end of the heat as Muscle Milk/MDK/KTM's Martin Davalos and Star Racing/Yamaha's Darryn Durham both worked their way around Friese before the checked flag flew. In the end, Stroupe took the win followed by Davalos, Durham, and Friese.

Heat One Results:

1.    Austin Stroupe (Kaw)
2.    Martin Davalos (KTM)
3.    Darryn Durham (Yam)
4.    Vince Friese (Hon)
5.    Fred Karrle (Suz)
6.    Levi Kilbarger (Hon)
7.    Cody Gilmore (Hon)
8.    Blake Wharton (Hon)

Heat Two:
Just like in the first heat, another privateer took the holeshot as Yamaha-mounted Jacob Saylor rounded the first turn in the lead. Also just like the first heat, though, a Monster Energy/Pro Circuit/Kawasaki rider was in second and made quick work to get into the lead, as Christophe Pourcel did so shortly after the pack headed down the first straight. With that, the race for the win was over. Pourcel checked out, leaving the other riders to battle for second. In the end, Star Racing/Yamaha's Matt Lemoine took second ahead of Suzuki City's Steven Clarke in third, a hard-charging Muscle Milk/MDK/KTM-backed Wil Hahn in fourth, and Saylor fifth.

Heat Two Results:
1.    Christophe Pourcel (Kaw)
2.    Matt Lemoine (Yam)
3.    Steven Clarke (Suz)
4.    Wil Hahn (KTM)
5.    Jacob Saylor (Yam)
6.    Branden Jessemen (Kaw)
7.    Teddy Parks (Suz)
8.    Tyler Wharton (Hon)

With Rockstar/Makita/Suzuki's Nico Izzi on the line due to a gnarly crash at the start of his heat race, it was almost a foregone conclusion as to who would be winning this race. A red flag after one lap, however, spiced things up a little bit, but once the race was re-started, Izzi quickly took the lead and checked out. Matt Goerke finished second, Spencer Daily third, and Ryan Smith fourth.

LCQ Results:

1.    Nico Izzi (Suz)
2.    Matt Goerke (Suz)
3.    Spencer Daily (Hon)
4.    Ryan Smith (Suz)

Page One: Lites Qualifying, Page Two: SX Qualifying, Page Three: Lites Main, Page Four: SX Main

Heat One
This heat race was over as soon as the riders left the start gate, as Rockstar/Makita/Suzuki's Chad Reed took the holeshot, and after that, never looked back as he rode away with the win. Behind him, though, Monster Energy Kawasaki's rookie SX class rider Ryan Villopoto kept the defending champion honest. RV was never more than a few seconds back for the majority of the race. Third in the heat went to another SX class rookie JGR/Toyota/Yamaha's Josh Grant.

Heat One Results:
1.    Chad Reed (Suz)
2.    Ryan Villopoto (Kaw)
3.    Josh Grant (Yam)
4.    Josh Hill (Yam)
5.    Broc Hepler (Yam)
6.    Timmy Fery (Kaw)
7.    Tyler Bowers (Hon)
8.    Tommy Hahn (Kaw)
9.    Troy Adams (Hon)

Heat Two
Much like the first SX class heat, this one was over as soon as it began. San Manuel Band of Mission Indians/Yamaha's James Stewart took the holeshot and checked out. Behind him, Red Bull Honda's Ivan Tedesco held down second ahead of Moto Concept's Ben Coisey, Rockstar/Makita/Suzuki's Mike Alessi, and the rest of the pack. As the race progressed, Stewart began to open up a sizable lead over Tedesco while Coisey and Alessi dropped back allowing Tedesco's Red Bull Honda teammates Davi Millsaps and Andrew Short take over third and fourth respectively.

Heat Two Results:
1.    James Stewart (Yam)
2.    Ivan Tedesco (Hon)
3.    Davi Millsaps (Hon)
4.    Andrew Short (Hon)
5.    Kevin Windham (Hon)
6.    Ben Coisey (Hon)
7.    Mike Alessi (Suz)
8.    Matt Boni (Hon)
9.    Kyle Chisholm (Yam)

This was one stacked Last Chance Qualifier, as Rockstar/Makita/Suzuki's Michael Byrne, Jagermiester/KTM's Josh Summey, Honda-privateer Heath Voss, and Monster/ampm/Boost Mobile's Nick Wey all sat on the line looking for a transfer to the main. When the gate hit the dirt, though, it was Summey with the lead, followed by Wey, Voss, and Byrne. The only running order change that happened the whole race, though, came in the closing laps, as Byrne made it by Voss to take the final transfer position.

LCQ Results:
1.    Josh Summey (KTM)
2.    Nick Wey (Yam)
3.    Michael Byrne (Suz)

One look at the winners of the heat races and it was easy to see who would be at the front of the pack once the Lites class rounded the first turn. Crossing the Progressive Direct holeshot line first was Monster Energy/Pro Circuit/Kawasaki's Austin Stroupe followed closely by his teammate Christophe Pourcel, Rockstar/Makita/Suzuki's Nico Izzi, and Muscle Milk/KTM's Martin Davalos in fourth.
As the laps continued to click away, Stroupe opened up a comfortable lead over Pourcel while Izzi and Davalos held down third and fourth. With only five laps left to go, though, Stroupe landed from the finishline double, went into the next turn, and stalled his KX250F, allowing Pourcel to take over the lead and dropping Stroupe back to eighth. With that, the race was over. Pourcel took his second win in as many tries this season, while Izzi finished second with Davalos third. Stroupe finished seventh. In the points battle, Pourcel now holds an eight-point lead over Izzi. Davalos is third.

1.    Christophe Pourcel (Kaw)
2.    Nico Izzi (Suz)
3.    Martin Davalos (KTM)
4.    Blake Wharton (Hon)
5.    Branden Jessemen (Kaw)
6.    Wil Hahn (KTM)
7.    Austin Stroupe (Kaw)
8.    Matt Lemoine (Yam)
9.    Matt Georke (Suz)
10.    Steven Clarke (Suz)
11.    Tyler Wharton (Hon)
12.    Levi Kilbarger (Hon)
13.    Bradley Ripple (Hon)
14.    Jacob Saylor (Yam)
15.    Vince Friese (Hon)
16.    Fred Karrie (Suz)
17.    Darryn Durham (Yam)
18.    Sean Hackley (Suz)
19.    Cody Gilmore (Hon)
20.    Teddy Parks (Suz)

Monster Energy AMA East Coast Supercross Lites Points Standings (After 2 of 8 rounds):
1.    Christophe Pourcel (50/2 wins)
2.    Nico Izzi (42)
3.    Martin Davalos (34)
4.    Blake Wharton (34)
5.    Austin Stroupe (32)
6.    Wil Hahn (30)
7.    Branden Jessemen (25)
8.    Matt Goerke (23)
9.    Brett Metcalfe (22)
10.    Steven Clarke (19)

With six race wins to his credit before Atlanta, it goes without saying that San Manuel Band of Mission Indians/Yamaha's James Stewart was the heavy favorite heading into Atlanta. Be that as it may, though, Reed came to the Georgia Dome looking for his first win of the season, and he intended to do all he could. When the gate dropped, Stewart took the holeshot followed by Team Yamaha's Broc Hepler, Monster Energy Kawasaki's Ryan Villopoto, Rockstar/Makita/Suzuki's Mike Alessi, and Red Bull Honda's Davi Millsaps. Reed was buried back in seventh. Within only one lap, Stewart began opening up a lead that no one could touch, while Reed began to work his way up to the front. By lap two, the Australian had already caught up to fourth and set his sights on passing Villopoto in third.
At the halfway point of the race, Villopoto made a pass on Hepler, which in turn held the Yamaha rider up long enough for Reed to capitalize and bump Hepler back to fourth. With that, Villopoto and Reed began a close battle that saw the two swap positions numerous times, before Reed finally made a pass stick as the two riders exited the long whoop section on lap 12. From there, the top running order never changed much. Stewart continued to ride all alone and unchallenged up front, while Reed and Villopoto settled into second and third respectively. When the checkered flag flew, Stewart took the win followed by Reed, Villopoto, and Red Bull Honda's Andrew Short.

1.    James Stewart (Yam)
2.    Chad Reed (Suz)
3.    Ryan Villopoto (Kaw)
4.    Andrew Short (Hon)
5.    Broc Hepler (Yam)
6.    Kevin Windham (Hon)
7.    Ivan Tedesco (Hon)
8.    Timmy Ferry (Kaw)
9.    Josh Hill (Yam)
10.    Davi Millsaps (Hon)
11.    Mike Alessi (Suz)
12.    Matt Boni (Hon)
13.    Josh Grant (Yam)
14.    Kyle Chisholm (Yam)
15.    Nick Wey (Yam)
16.    Tommy Hahn (Kaw)
17.    Troy Adams (Hon)
18.    Tyler Bowers (Hon)
19.    Ben Coisey (Hon)
20.    Josh Summey (KTM)

Monster Energy AMA Supercross Series Points Standings (After 8 of 17 rounds):
1.    James Stewart (177/7 wins)
2.    Chad Reed (174)
3.    Andrew Short (140)
4.    Ryan Villopoto (126)
5.    Josh Grant (120)
6.    Ivan Tedesco (116)
7.    Kevin Windham (111)
8.    Davi Millsaps (102)
9.    Mike Alessi (93)
10.    Timmy Ferry (87)