Reigning AMA Motocross champion James Stewart made the perfect start to his Yamaha career by taking victory on both nights at the Rockstar Energy Drink U.S. Open in Las Vegas.
Friday's opening night saw Stewart steer his L&M run YZF450 to a gate to flag victory, the Floridian surviving some first turn bumping to take the holeshot ahead of reigning AMA Supercross champion Chad Reed.
But the Australian fell from his Makita Suzuki at turn two and was forced to withdraw with mechanical problems, leaving Red Bull Honda's Ivan Tedesco and MDK/KTM's Justin Brayton second and third behind the fast disappearing Stewart.
Andrew Short worked his way past Brayton, but tangled with his team-mate Tedesco on lap 14 - with Brayton also caught up in the carnage. Tedesco remounted without losing his position but with Yamaha's Josh Hill on his back wheel. Tedesco nevertheless hung on to second at the chequered flag.
"I was able to get through the first turn clean," said Stewart. "Everything worked out to my advantage tonight, and I am really lucky. I need to get some good sleep tonight and come back strong tomorrow."
Saturday night's final saw Stewart face a much stiffer challenge, exiting turn one in fourth position while Reed took the lead. Stewart worked his way up to the Suzuki rider's rear wheel, but struggled to pass on the tight track - until the Australian spectacularly lost control of his machine on lap 16, handing victory to Stewart.
That allowed Short into second place, while Reed recovered to finish third.
In the overall standings, Stewart thus took victory (and a $100,000 prize) with perfect 1-1 results, with Tedesco second and Lites star Ryan Dungey third for Makita Suzuki.
"I wanted to come here and do good for the team," said Stewart. "I was lucky that Chad made a mistake for me. It was a great night and I am glad that we put on a great race for the fans."
"The weekend was good. We were put off a bit after the incident on Friday night, but on Saturday night we achieved a lot," said Reed. "We were able to try things on the RM-Z450 that really worked and overall I think it was an amazing weekend. We learned a lot, and that's what this race is all about, trying to get ready for 2009."
Rockstar Energy Drink U.S. Open Overall Results:
1. James Stewart, Yamaha (1-1)
2. Ivan Tedesco, Honda (5-4)
3. Ryan Dungey, Suzuki (5-4)
4. Andrew Short, Honda (9-2)
5. Justin Brayton, KTM (4-9)
6. Josh Hill, Yamaha (3-12)
7. Michael Byrne, Suzuki (7-6)
8. Chad Reed, Suzuki (14-3)
9. Thomas Hahn, Kawasaki (8-13)
10. Broc Hepler, Yamaha (6-11)