James Stewart has extended his AMA Supercross championship lead by taking his first premier-class victory at the famous Daytona International Speedway.
Stewart was expected to face a stiff challenge from retiring Daytona legend Ricky Carmichael and, to lesser extent, 2007 title rival Chad Reed - but both struggled with poor starts while Stewart rocketed out of the gate and disappeared into the distance.
"I've got to give a lot of credit to my dad," said Stewart, whose seventh win of the season has put him 24 points ahead of Reed. "He puts a lot of work on me during the week and it showed tonight. I never got tired and I felt good. I just got to give credit to everyone around me. It's not a one-man show - it's a team sport."
"I've got to tell you, I've had a great time tonight," said five-time Daytona winner Carmichael after finishing second. "I've had a great time performing in front of the Florida fans and the Daytona Bike Week fans. Hats off to James Stewart and thanks to my Makita Suzuki team for giving me a good bike in the RM-Z450. I'm happy with the way I rode in the main event and I'm proud of my performance on this track."
Third placed Reed also had no excuses… other than his bad start: "I knew I needed a good start and I just didn't get the start - no other fault," shrugged the Yamaha rider.
Meanwhile, in the Supercross Lites race, former world champion Ben Townley made Daytona a 'green day' with a six-second victory over Honda's Thomas Hahn and KTM's Mike Alessi. The win was New Zealand born Townley's second in a row.
"The track was really brutal tonight," admitted Townley. "There were a lot of ruts and the sand section was quite rough. With it being so tricky out there you just couldn't bang in some hard laps so I tried to limit my mistakes and be consistent the whole race and that worked out well – I just rode smooth. Tommy Hahn was quite close to me in the beginning and we had a little battle going but then I managed to put some time between us and I had a decent gap which I held till the flag. To win at Daytona is an inexplicable emotion – last year I came down to Daytona to watch from the sidelines as an injured spectator and now I am on top of the box! I can't begin to tell you how awesome this is."
Townley has now climbed to third in the Supercross Lites points standings and is only six points adrift of leader Ryan Morais.
Supecross remains in Florida with the next round taking place at the Citrus Bowl in Orlando on the 17th March.