Atlanta win is 14th of career, breaking McGrath’s record for 125 Supercross victories
ATLANTA (Feb. 28, 2004) —For Team Chevy Trucks Kawasaki’s James Stewart, the records just keep on falling. The talented 18-year-old became the winningest 125 rider in Supercross history in winning his 14thcareer 125 main event on Saturday night at the THQ AMASupercross at the Georgia Dome in Atlanta. The win eclipsed the mark of 13 125 Supercross wins set by former Supercross icon Jeremy McGrath and adds yet another record to the growing list of accomplishments for Stewart, and Kawasaki.
Stewart, a lifetime Kawasaki rider, entered the professional ranks after an illustrious amateur career produced a record-setting 11 national amateur championships, a mark that stands today. He has followed in the footsteps of fellow Floridian, Ricky Carmichael, who set the current record for most 125 Motocross wins (26) during his tenure with Kawasaki (1996 to 2001).
In addition to the recently added 125 win record, Stewart also lays claim to being the youngest ever to win a Supercross race and Motocross championship, and also holds the ground-breaking distinction of being the first African-American to win a major motor sports championship in the U.S.
Stewart’s mastery of the 125 class once again shined through on Saturday as he completely decimated the field. His domination wasn’t only contained to the 125 class. He clocked practice lap times that were one-half second faster than the quickest times set by the fastest 250 rider, Chad Reed (55.467 to 56.012).
His only blemish on the evening, and the season for that matter, came in the second 125 heat race when he had his record 19-consecutive heat race wins snapped. A crash in the first turn of the six-lap race sent Stewart to the back of the pack. He then led a spirited attack that saw him fight his way through the field to finish fourth, bringing the crowd of 59,651 to its feet.
In the main event, he avoided the first-turn bug that bit him earlier and shot to the early lead. He sprinted away from the field and won his record-setting race going away by a 25.2-second margin.
“Tonight’s win was really special for me because I’ve always wanted to race in Atlanta, said Stewart, who considers the Atlanta and Daytona Supercross events as “hometown races. “The record means a lot to me, especially since it was held by Jeremy McGrath. Just to be considered in the same league as Jeremy is an honor, which is why I wanted to give something back to him.
Stewart honored his childhood hero by wearing a vintage McGrath jersey while he accepted his trophy on the podium. Team Chevy Trucks Kawasaki’s Paul Carpenter had his break-out race in Atlanta aboard a Kawasaki KX250F. He finished second in his heat race after leading for a majority of the race. He would later follow that up with a strong ride in the main event, finishing fifth for his best-ever Supercross result.
Team Pro Circuit/Kawasaki/Chevy Trucks rider Eric Sorby gave Kawasaki three riders in the top ten with a seventh place finish.
Stewart stretched his lead in the 125 Eastern Region Supercross standings to 18 points over Broc Hepler, 75 to 57. Sorby is fourth with 44 points, and Carpenter moved up to ninth place with 25.
In the 250 class, Team Chevy Trucks Kawasaki’s Michael Byrne brought home another top ten result in the main event with an eighth place finish. He was narrowly edged out of winning his second consecutive holeshot by Damon Huffman and battled with eventual-winner Chad Reed in the early stages of the race.
Byrne picked up one spot in the point standings and now sits in fifth place with 121 points. Reed is the leader with 216.
Team Chevy Trucks Kawasaki heads to Daytona Beach, Fla., this Friday night for the next stop on the 16-race THQ AMA Supercross Series.