A night of drama at Seattle ended with Ryan Villopoto winning his first AMA Supercross main event and James Stewart taking the title lead with just two rounds to go.
As the AMA Supercross main event blasted out of the gates, Rockstar/Makita Suzuki's Mike Alessi sped to yet another holeshot with U.S. Air Force Honda's Heath Voss and hometown rider Villopoto in tow.
Meanwhile, title leader and reigning champion Chad Reed crashed from his Makita Suzuki and found himself in 19th place, while Stewart was mired in 11th by the end of lap one.
Throughout the early part of the race, Alessi and Villopoto battled for the top spot before Alessi washed out just before halfway to give up the lead. Villopoto, in his first race back since New Orleans on March 14, put his head down and rode to an impressive and surprising victory for Monster Energy Kawasaki.
“It's awesome,” boasted Villopoto, who missed the last three races with a virus. “I can't thank my team enough and everybody that put effort into it. It hasn't been the year we wanted but they never gave up. I could see James and Chad out of the corner of my eye sometimes. I just focused on Mike [Alessi] and he made that mistake. The track was super tricky tonight and there were some slick spots so you really had to ride smart.”
Stewart worked his way through the field to bring home a hard-earned runner-up finish, while Reed found difficulty passing his competitors and could only muster a seventh-place finish, his first outside of the top three this season.
“They told me how far I was back - fifteenth or something like that - and it was crazy," said Stewart. "I bent my clutch lever as soon as I got hit in that first corner, and it was just like, 'Man, just try to stay up.' The first couple laps were carnage, with guys trying to pass each other. I'm pretty stunned that I was able to come up and get second because I saw how far ahead those guys were."
Stewart had trailed Reed by five points coming to Seattle but the classification from Saturday evening mean that the pair have swapped positions at the top of the championship standings. The Yamaha rider now has a 3 point advantage with only trips to Salt Lake City and Las Vegas in the next two weeks left to run.
"We've had 15 races and I've been in the points lead twice now," said Stewart who is still hoping to be the first rider to give Yamaha 11 victories in one season (he currently has 10 and a career total of 35). "At the end of the day, it's for the championship. It's all about the championship right now. I've won a lot of races this year, and I always found myself in second place in the points - always catching up - so it feels good to be in the points lead, but we've got a long way to go still."