With seven races in the books for the 2014 Monster Energy AMA Supercross season, James Stewart became the first back-to-back winner, and as the championship heads to Atlanta, the Yoshimura Suzuki rider hopes to have a repeat performance of last year, where he captured the Main Event win. Monster Energy/Pro Circuit/Kawasaki’s Adam Cianciarulo, who is a rookie in the Eastern Regional 250SX Class, wrote the perfect story to what appears to be an incredible career, by winning the first race of his career.
Last year, Stewart took home his first 450SX Class win of the season at the 2013 Atlanta stop. GEICO Honda’s Wil Hahn led wire to wire in the night’s Eastern Regional 250SX Class race en route to the first victory of his career. Now that Hahn has moved to the premier class, he’s yet to finish inside the top five; he tied his career-best finish in Arlington with eighth place.
“I’m so happy,” exclaimed Stewart from the podium in Arlington. “I thought we needed to be better for the Main Event and we were. The track was really difficult and I knew I had to get myself to a certain point in order to make a pass and control the race. The championship doesn’t matter right now. We just need to keep riding like we are. If we do that, then we’ll be good.”
Three-time Monster Energy Supercross champion Ryan Villopoto finished fourth to maintain his lead in the season standings, which now sits at 12 points over Red Bull KTM’s Ken Roczen, who finished sixth. Stewart moved into third place, 14 points out of the lead.
By virtue of his victory, Stewart assumed control of the Toyota Triple Challenge and holds a one-point lead over Villopoto and Barcia. With one race remaining in the Triple Challenge from East Rutherford, N.J., on April 26, Stewart is now in position to win a new Toyota Tundra if he maintains the advantage. The wins by Reed and Stewart in the first two races mean that no rider will claim the $250,000 bonus for winning all three Main Events.
Discount Tire/TwoTwo Motorsports’ Chad Reed, who suffered an injury on the final lap of competition one week ago in San Diego, attempted to practice on last Saturday despite a broken scapula, collarbone, and T1 vertebrae, but ultimately pulled out of competition. He fell from third to sixth in the championship and will likely miss the remainder of the season.
Cianciarulo made a statement early as he captured the Nuclear CowboyzHoleshot Award, with his teammates Martin Davalos and Blake Baggett with him through Turn 1. Davalos, who was the fastest rider in practice, made a pass for the lead on the opening lap but crashed on Lap 3 allowing Cianciarulo to reclaim the top spot and Baggett to take over second.
Out front, Cianciarulo and Baggett opened a significant advantage over the rest of the field before Baggett made a pass on Cianciarulo for the lead on Lap 7. Cianciarulo responded quickly and regained the lead in the next turn.
Cianciarulo became the first rider since Trey Canard in 2008 to win in his first career Monster Energy Supercross start. Baggett finished second while Davalos rebounded from a pair of crashes to climb his way from sixth to third and secure a podium sweep for Monster Energy/Pro Circuit/Kawasaki.
“I couldn’t be more pumped,” said Cianciarulo, who became the 93rd different 250SX Class winner in Monster Energy Supercross history. “This is for everyone who has stuck behind me through all the good times and bad. It’s taken a lot of good days and a lot of bad days to get to this point. I cannot believe it, all these fans cheering for me and giving me the support. I just can’t believe it. We did it.”
This will be the 36th time the Georgia Dome has hosted a 450SX Class race and the 28th time the gates have dropped for a 250SX Class race. In 2012, supercross drew in a record crowd of 71,009 fans. In years before, Atlanta supercross has again and again averaged over 67,000 fans per race.
The first supercross race held in Atlanta was on March 5, 1977, and Bob Hannah won on a Yamaha. On Feb. 22, 1986, Honda rider Keith Turpin won the first-ever 250SX Class Main Event in Atlanta. To date, Ricky Carmichael sits on top of the 450SX Class’ all-time win list at the Georgia Dome with five wins. Carmichael, Brian Swink and Christophe Pourcel share the 250SX Class’ all-time win record with two.
Practice and qualifying begin at 12:30 p.m. and the Main Event starts at 7 p.m. Club Seating is $60 Adult/Child; 100 & 200 Level Sideline Seating $45 Adult/Child; 100 & 200 Level End Zone Seating $35 Adult/Child; 300 Level Seating $20 Adult/Child. Fans can also get in to the Pits for FREE from 12:30-6 p.m. Race Day when they recycle a MONSTER Energy Can at the stadium’s pit entrance (valid only with event ticket).