James Stewart is dominating this year's Amp'd Mobile AMA Supercross Series having won eight of the eleven races heading into the Indy Supercross this Saturday, but he will chasing a rare new goal in downtown Indianapolis.
Stewart leads the AMA standings by 29 points over L&M Yamaha's Chad Reed and, last week in Orlando, edged five-time champ Ricky Carmichael in an exciting race, which was Carmichael's final AMA Supercross appearance.
Coming into Indianapolis, Stewart has 19-career Supercross wins, tying him with Damon Bradshaw for seventh on the all-time wins list, but, for all of his impressive accomplishments, the one thing Stewart has never done is win at the RCA Dome - the only stadium in the 16-race series where he has not earned a victory.
Last week's victory in Orlando showed that Stewart is maturing as a rider. He rode patiently in third and took his time to methodically work his way to the front. In the past, he would more likely have tried to close the gap too quickly, often resulting in mistakes.
“I'm trying to race for consistency and I think I've become a better racer,” Stewart said after winning on Saturday, “I was third and sat back and watched the lines they were taking and how things were working out.”
While Stewart can feel secure with a 29-point lead coming into Indianapolis, rival Reed is trying to figure out a way to close the gap with just five rounds remaining and 25 points on offer at each.
“I was more disappointed with this race than I have been all season,” Reed said after finishing third in Orlando, “I got a great start and felt like I had a good pace going out there, but I just kept making little mistakes that were costly.”
Reed, like Stewart, has also never won the main event in Indy, although he did win an AMA Supercross Lites race there, when the support series was called 125, in 2002.
In this year's Lites class, Boost Mobile Yamaha's Ryan Morais holds a six-point lead over Monster Energy Pro Circuit Kawasaki's Darcy Lange in the AMA East Series with three rounds to go. There have been three different winners - Branden Jesseman, Ryan Dungey and Ben Townley - in the four races leading up to Indianapolis, and the series has featured wild swings in the standings. So far, however, Morais has been the most steady, with two runner-up finishes helping him to hold the lead.
“I think I gained a few points with a second in Orlando,” he said, “I'm just trying to be consistent, avoid crashes and get top-five finishes every week. I'd like to get a win, but right now the championship is what I'm focused on.”