The 2011 AMA Supercross Championship series rolled into the famed Daytona International Speedway on Saturday, where riders and fans were greeted by a rough and challenging Ricky Carmichael Signature Design track for the fourth consecutive year.
Traditionally the longest, gnarliest layout of the entire series, this year’s brutal Daytona circuit lived up to its reputation, and bit Red Bull’s James Stewart while he was in the midst of dominating the main event. In one of the most courageous rides of his career, JS7 rebounded from the spectacular crash to finish an incredible ninth place by night’s end.
Daytona treated Red Bull KTM’s Andrew Short a little better, as the likeable veteran rode smooth and steady to finish in a series best fourth-place on the brutal Florida soil.
Here’s how the action unfolded in Daytona:
SUPERCROSS QUALIFYING HEATS
- Stewart kicked off the event by posting the fastest lap time during the first timed qualifying session, which later proved to be the time to beat as it held up as the number one qualifying lap of the day.
- Red Bull KTM’s Mike Alessi started Heat #1 by getting caught in the gate, but after rounding turn number one in dead last, the number 800 impressively charged his way up to a solid sixth-place, qualifying position.
- German speedster Ken Roczen grabbed the holeshot aboard his Red Bull KTM to start Heat #2, but was quickly displaced by Davi Millsaps and fellow Red Bull teammate Stewart.
- JS7 moved into second early on lap one, but midway through lap number two lost his front end in a loose left-hand corner.
- Remounting in the eighth spot, Stewart had his work cut out for him as he began his charge back toward the front.
- With three laps to go, JS7 incredibly caught back up to leader Millsaps, and wasted no time as he muscled his way into the lead.
- Once in the lead, Stewart looked smooth and confident as he dropped the pack and cruised in for an eight-second win.
- After challenging for the lead early on, Roczen put in a solid ride to finish the heat in third aboard his KTM.
- Starting just inside the top-ten, Red Bull KTM’s Andrew Short piloted his 350SX-F to a consistent sixth-place finish to easily qualify for the main event.
SUPERCROSS MAIN EVENT
- When the gate dropped for the Supercross main event, Stewart rocketed out to capture a huge holeshot ahead of Villopoto and Red Bull teammate Short.
- On lap two, Stewart began jumping an obstacle that nobody else on the track was doing, and instantly dropped his lap times to two full seconds quicker than his closest competitor.
- Five laps into the main while steadily extending his lead, Stewart made a critical error while approaching a tricky rhythm section, and went down hard on the unforgiving Daytona soil.
- Shaken and clearly out of sorts, JS7 remounted in a distant last place, but displayed incredible courage as he rejoined the race nearly a minute behind.
- Though well out of contention, Stewart dug deep and continued setting some of the quickest laps of the night while battling his way through the pack and up to ninth-place by night’s end.
- Running as high as second, Shorty overcame adversity midway through the main to climb his way back up to a series-best fourth by the wave of the checkers.
- Red Bull KTM’s Roczen and Alessi finished in eighth and tenth, respectively, helping to fill-in Daytona’s distinguished top-ten.
- Though reducing the damage by fighting his way back up to ninth, Stewart now sits 23-points behind Villopoto in the championship points chase.
- •Stay tuned as the series heads to Indianapolis next weekend for round number 10.
1. Ryan Villopoto
2. Chad Reed
3. Ryan Dungey
4. Andrew Short
5. Davi Millsaps
6. Justin Brayton
7. Kevin Windham
8. Ken Roczen
9. James Stewart
10. Mike Alessi
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- See more photos in the Dayton SX Gallery
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- Stewart 2nd in Los Angeles