James Stewart heads to the 30th Annual High Point National this Sunday, May 28, fresh from his first Toyota AMA Motocross Championship presented by FMF victory last weekend in Sacramento.
Stewart's win in Sacramento was historic in many respects - it ended Ricky Carmichael's 27-race win streak, the longest winning streak in AMA Motocross history; it marked Kawasaki's first AMA Motocross class victory since 2001; and finally, it is the first time someone other that Ricky Carmichael has led the series in five years.
Frenchman Sebastian Tortelli was the last rider, back in May of 2001, to lead the championship before Carmichael's victory at Southwick in June of that year began his record reign atop the series standings.
"It was a hard fought win," Stewart said of his 1-2 moto finish that gave him the overall victory at Hangtown last Sunday. "Ricky rode great and to be the rider to stop his streak is unbelievable. I'm so pumped about this season. I think we're going to have some great battles. Hopefully I can start a streak of my own."
Stewart won at Mt. Morris in the Motocross Lites class (then called 125 class) in 2004, but although Carmichael lost his first overall in 27 nationals, he still seemed upbeat about his dominating victory in a wet second moto.
"It's been a long time since I've lost an overall," said Carmichael, the six-time AMA Motocross champion who rides for Suzuki. "I'm happy with the way I rode in the second moto. I'm looking forward to getting back east and riding on tracks like Mt. Morris."
Behind the top two, Yamaha's Chad Reed scored third overall in the season opener. The Australian is looking for his first victory in the premier class at Mt. Morris after winning the Motocross Lites class event in 2002.
Reed's former team-mate David Vuillemin showed surprising speed in the series opener on his Motoworld Racing.com Yamaha and could cause an upset again this weekend, having previously won at Mt. Morris in 2000 and 2001.
Defending Mt. Morris Motocross Lites winner Mike Alessi brings his series lead with him for the Memorial Weekend event. The Red Bull KTM ace won both motos at Hangtown and is hoping to extend his series lead this weekend.
"I did a lot better than I expected," Alessi said of his round one win. "I know I can do well at Mt. Morris, so my win at Hangtown gives me even more confidence going to the tracks I like. It's too early to tell how the championship is going to work out. I just want to ride smart all year."
Boost Mobile/Yamaha of Troy team-mates Brett Metcalfe and Andrew McFarlane are tied for second in the Motocross Lites class standings coming into High Point.