James Stewart has won the 2009 Monster Energy AMA Supercross, an FIM World Championship, title despite finishing third in Saturday night's Las Vegas season finale.
While all eyes were on the heated rivalry between former champion Stewart and reigning champion Chad Reed, rookie Ryan Villopoto stole the show with his second victory in the last three races.
However, Yamaha star Stewart brought home a solid third place to win the title by four points over Reed, who finished second.
As the 20-lap AMA Supercross main event launched out of the gates, Rockstar/Makita Suzuki's Mike Alessi raced to the holeshot with Stewart and Villopoto chasing closely.
Reed, Alessi's team-mate, suffered from a rough start, and came out of the first turn in seventh. By the completion of lap one, Stewart had moved into the lead, but Monster Energy Kawasaki rider Villopoto stayed close and brought the crowd to its feet when he passed the 11-time winner on lap two and never looked back.
“It's been awesome [the last three weeks],” said Villopoto. “To come back and win at Seattle was awesome, especially since it was my hometown. It's been very close running in Vegas and it feels good to finally get a win here. I've never done that before. I've been working hard. I couldn't have done it without the whole Monster Energy Kawasaki team. “
Behind him, Reed inched in on his nemesis, setting the stage for a memorable moment between the bitter rivals. While Reed needed a victory of his own for a shot at the championship, he made the best of his opportunity with a heavy-contact pass on Stewart on lap 15 to move into second and bring home his twelfth runner-up finish of 2009.
Stewart, who only needed a third place finish to clinch his second-career championship, backed off the pace and settled into third.
“You have no idea how tough this has to come back from what happened at Anaheim 1,” said Stewart. “This is the toughest I have ever had to fight to win a title. It's has been a hard-fought championship for everyone. I just want to thank everyone that has been involved in everything we've accomplished this season.”