After two successive race defeats by Chad Reed, James Stewart returned to the top with his eighth victory of the 2009 Monster Energy AMA Supercross, an FIM World Championship, season at the Superdome in New Orleans.
Stewart jumped out to an early lead with reigning champion Reed on his back wheel. Suzuki rider Reed spent the 20-lap race chasing Stewart, but the Yamaha rider remained flawless and has now moved within eight points of Reed.
Yamaha's Broc Hepler picked up his first podium of the season with a third-place finish.
''I got a great start,'' said Stewart. ''I had to win tonight - point blank. I had to win. This is what I needed heading into the race next weekend in St. Louis.''
Monster Energy/Pro Circuit Kawasaki's Austin Stroupe won his second Eastern Regional AMA Supercross class main event of the season and moved into second place in points standings
Stroupe rocketed off to a great start, picking up the holeshot and riding to victory. GEICO Powersports' Tyler Wharton trailed Stroupe through turn one in second place but crashed a few turns later, handing the position to his team-mate Daniel Blair.
Current Lites class points leader Christophe Pourcel started the main event in twelfth place and moved into the fourth-place position on the last lap. On lap three former AMA Supercross Lites class champion Brandon Jesseman made a pass on Blair to secure the number-two position.
From there it was give and take as Jesseman would close up a bit and then Stroupe would regain the advantage. In the end, Jesseman held his position and picked up the first podium of his season.
Tyler Wharton's brother Blake worked his way through the pack and earned a career-best third place finish. ''This gives me the confidence to know that I can run up front with these guys,'' said Wharton.
''It was a technical track tonight, so I had to ride smart,'' said Stroupe. ''It was important to get the holeshot because I was able to get out front and ride my own race.''
AMA Supercross Class Results, New Orleans:
1. James Stewart, Haines City, Fla., Yamaha
2. Chad Reed, Tampa, Fla., Suzuki
3. Broc Hepler, Kittanning, Pa., Yamaha
4. Kevin Windham, Centerville, Miss., Honda
5. Andrew Short, Smithville, Texas, Honda
6. Mike Alessi, Apple Valley, Calif., Suzuki
7. Josh Grant, Riverside, Calif., Yamaha
8. Justin Brayton, Murrieta, Calif., KTM
9. Ryan Villopoto, Poulsbo, Wash., Kawasaki
10. Matt Boni, Geneva, Fla., Honda
AMA Supercross Class Season Standings
1. Chad Reed, Tampa, Fla., Suzuki, 246
2. James Stewart, Haines City, Fla., Yamaha, 238
3. Andrew Short, Smithville, Texas, Honda, 179
4. Ryan Villopoto, Poulsbo, Wash., Kawasaki, 165
5. Josh Grant, Riverside, Calif., Yamaha, 152
6. Ivan Tedesco, Tallahasse, Fla., Honda, 148
7. Kevin Windham, Centerville, Miss., Honda, 146
8. Mike Alessi, Apple Valley, Calif., Suzuki, 146
9. Davi Millsaps, Tallahassee, Fla., Honda, 139
10. Josh Hill, Yoncalla, Ore., Yamaha, 102
Eastern Regional AMA Supercross Lites Class Results, New Orleans
1. Austin Stroupe, Lincolnton, N.C., Kawasaki
2. Brandon Jesseman, New Brighton, Pa., Kawasaki
3. Blake Wharton, Pilot Point, Texas, Honda
4. Christophe Pourcel, Corona, Calif., Kawasaki
5. Wil Hahn, Decatur, Texas, KTM
6. Darryn Durham, Wildomar, Calif., Yamaha
7. Daniel Blair, Modesto, Calif., Honda
8. Broc Tickle, Holly, Mich., Yamaha
9. Matt Goerke, Lake Helen, Fla., Suzuki
10. Steven Clarke, Cairo, Ga., Suzuki
Eastern Regional AMA Supercross Lites Class Season Standings
1. Christophe Pourcel, Corona, Calif., Kawasaki, 115
2. Austin Stroupe, Lincolnton, N.C., Kawasaki, 84
3. Nico Izzi, Murrieta, Calif., Suzuki, 82
4. Branden Jesseman, New Brighton, Pa., Kawasaki, 73
5. Wil Hahn, Decatur, Texas, KTM, 68
6. Blake Wharton, Pilot Point, Texas, Honda, 66
7. Martin Davalos, Cairo, Ga., KTM, 57
8. Matt Lemoine, Collinsville, Texas, Yamaha, 51
9. Steven Clarke, Cairo, Ga., Suzuki, 51
10. Matt Goerke, Lake Helen, Fla., Suzuki, 50