After missing most of the 2008 AMA Supercross season, James Stewart made a triumphant return during round one of the AMA Toyota Motocross Championship Presented by FMF at Glen Helen Raceway.
The Monster Energy Kawasaki star posted perfect 1-1 moto finishes to notch his fifth overall victory of his AMA Motocross career. Rockstar Makita Suzuki's Mike Alessi finished 2-2 for second overall while Red Bull Honda's Davi Millsaps was third with 3-3.
"I am stoked to come back and get a 1-1 today," said Stewart, who missed a majority of the 2008 season with an injured knee. "We have been working hard. I didn't know where I was going to be at, but I was having a blast out there. I feel like we can improve and each we can get better. I'm looking forward to going to Sacramento [next week] and that track is rough and it should be hot."
In the Lites class, Monster Energy/Pro Circuit/Kawasaki's Austin Stroupe picked up his first career win. Stroupe capitalised on a strong opening moto, using his runner-up finish to help overcome a fall in moto two while in the lead. After falling to fourth, he battled with team-mate Brett Metcalfe to take the third in the closing laps.
Third Monster Kawasaki rider and defending AMA Motocross Lites champion Ryan Villopoto - whom many fans had hoped would be stepping up to the 450cc class this season - overcame a tough first moto to take the top spot in moto two, posting a 5-1 for second overall. Boost Mobile Yamaha of Troy's Jason Lawrence took third overall, garnering his first moto win in the opening race and backing it with a fifth place in moto two.
"I came [into the season] ready to go," said Stroupe, starting his first full season as a pro. "But it's going to be tough. Ryan [Villopoto] got a really bad start in the first moto and we had to play catch up with Jason Lawrence. But other than that, me and Brett [Metcalfe] rode a strong race and had a good battle. In the second moto I made a mistake. We were running a faster pace and he [Villopoto] was pressuring me and my front wheel washed out and put me on my back. It took me a couple laps to get back but I made a clean pass on Brett later on."
The AMA Toyota Motocross Championship Presented by FMF heads north to California's capital in Sacramento to celebrate the 40th anniversary of Hangtown MX with the 34th Annual Honda Hangtown Motocross Classic Presented by Jackson Rancheria Hotel and Casino.