Five things to take away from the AMA Supercross season opener at Angel Stadium in Anaheim:
1. James Stewart is hardly the people’s champion. He might be the face of Supercross, but the masses are definitely split on rooting for him. The boos equaled the cheers for him at Anaheim. It looks like it will take more than winning races to win over some new fans.
2. Ryan Dungey is for real. In his first Supercross race, he outrode James Stewart and almost won in his debut in the 450cc class. When Stewart passed him with three laps to go in the race, Dungey refused to give up. Dungey pulled even with Stewart on the last lap, but couldn’t pass him. At least Dungey fought to the end. “I stayed consistent throughout the race,” said Stewart. “I started to push myself during the last 10 laps and that is what racing is all about. I wanted to be there at the end and I was.”
3. Chad Reed is poised to pull a Stewart-like comeback. Chad Reed broke a spoke and had to withdraw from the opening-night race at Anaheim. He finished a disappointing 19th. James Stewart had a similar start to his 2009 championship season. He did not finish the opening night race at Anaheim and was in 19th place in the Supercross standings after one race. Reed made contact with Austin Stroupe on the second lap of the race and broke his wheel. Last year, Reed and Stewart collided, which led to a heated season-long battle between the two riders. Somehow a Reed-Stroupe rivalry doesn’t appear to be on the horizon. “I was at the wrong place at the wrong time,” said Reed. “The pace is really high right now, and there was nothing that I could do. I was trying to pass another rider and our lines came together.”
4. Josh Grant might be out for a while. It was one of the most impressive and gutsy efforts in Supercross. Josh Grant, who won last year’s season opener at Anaheim, did everything he could to race in this year’s Supercross opener. He crashed, hit his head, injured his shoulder and broke his nose practicing at a private track near his home in Riverside. Despite his injuries, Grant raced on Saturday night, finished ninth in his heat race and qualified for the main event race. But he pulled out of the final race just before it started. Grant said he couldn’t hold on to the handle bars during his practice sessions and heat race. Plus his vision was blurred and he was experiencing dizziness. When he’ll be able to return to race again is anybody’s guess.
5. There are some new sheriffs in town. At least that’s what James Stewart said after he won the season opener at Anaheim. Until someone beats him, Stewart is the Sheriff of Supercross. But there are a slew of deputies who want to take his place. Rookie Ryan Dungey gave notice he will be a challenger to Stewart’s reign. Davi Millsaps, Ryan Villopoto and Kevin Windham showed flashes of brilliance on Saturday night. Plus it will take more than broken spokes to keep Chad Reed, a one-time sheriff himself, out of the championship picture.