Celebration and Showdown In Store At Las Vegas SXWednesday, May 2, 2007 | 12:46 PM
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Monster Energy Kawasaki’s James Stewart clinched the Amp’d Mobile AMA Supercross Series title last weekend in Seattle and will attempt to go for his 13th win of the season. His Las Vegas race will be a coronation run for Stewart, who has dominated the season with 12 wins in the 15 rounds leading up to Saturday’s finale. Stewart’s 2007 season joins Jeremy McGrath’s 1996 and Ricky Carmichael’s 2001 season as one of the best performances in the history of the series.
"I bent over on my bike’s tank after the race. I didn’t want everyone to see me crying. I was so excited to win the championship. I’m definitely happy to be in the position I’m in, and I hope that I can continue to help the sport grow from here," Stewart later said after the race in Seattle last week. "I also hope that I can continue to kick it up that extra notch to give the fans the show they came to see. I will still be working hard as ever, because there will always be another fast guy coming up to challenge for the win."
Stewart is the defending winner of the Las Vegas Supercross.
“I’m going to try to have fun in Las Vegas,” Stewart said. But I’m still definitely going for the win. If I’m not out there trying to win I wouldn’t even be in the race.”
A number of other riders hope to sneak up and steal Stewart’s thunder in Las Vegas. L&M Yamaha’s Chad Reed has occasionally shown the speed to challenge the champ. The Australian would love nothing better than to close out the 2007 campaign with an upset win over his rival. Honda riders Davi Millsaps and Kevin Windham showed good speed in Seattle. Both would love to set a tone in Las Vegas, looking forward to the upcoming AMA Toyota Motocross Championship presented by FMF season.
While the Las Vegas Supercross has no championship implications fans have long been waiting for the annual Dave Coombs Sr. East/West Shootout. The race will be a showdown between West Coast Supercross Lites champ Ryan Villopoto and his East counterpart Ben Townley. Both riders are part of the powerful Monster Energy Kawasaki team and will be gunning to not only prove who is the top Supercross Lites rider of the county, but who’s the best on their own team. The two had very different paths to their respective titles. Villopoto was dominant, winning seven of the eight West Coast rounds en route to his championship. Meanwhile Townley made one of the all-time best come-from-behind seasons in the East series. He charged back from a 25-point deficit and scored wins at St. Louis, Daytona Beach and Dallas to rally back to win the series.
“I’m looking forward to racing all the East Coast riders in Las Vegas,” Villopoto said. “We’ll see what they bring to the table and they’ll see what we have as well. Vegas is usually a tough track. The hard pack dirt is always challenging. Hopefully I can get a good start there and have a good race.”
For Townley, winning the AMA Supercross Lites East Series in his first full season was a dream come true. He feels a victory in the Shootout would be icing on the cake.
“We’re bringing together the best of the best in Las Vegas,” said Townley, a former World Motocross Champion. “All the East riders have been pounding on each other all season, now we’ll be rooting for one another as we go up against the West riders. We all want to have bragging rights. It’s going to be a good race and it would be great to end the Supercross season with a win.”
The East will be well represented. Townley will be joined by Ryan Morais, of the Boost Mobile Yamaha who finished second in the series. Makita Suzuki’s Ryan Dungey matched Townley’s three-win tally in the East, and was at times considered the fastest man in the East on his good weekends.
Villopoto heads up the West Coast contingent, but riders such as Jason Lawrence and Joshua Hill, both with Yamaha, are very capable of scoring an upset win in Las Vegas.
The East/West Shootout is named after the late Hall of Fame race promoter Dave Coombs. This year’s shootout will be a rubber match. In the ten previous Shootout races the East riders have won five times and the West has won five also. West Coast rider Andrew Short won the Shootout last year.
The Amp'd Mobile AMA Supercross Series round from Sam Boyd Stadium will air live on SPEED on Saturday, May 5, at 10:00 pm eastern.
Tickets for the Las Vegas Supercross season finale are available at the Thomas and Mack Center Box Office, select participating Yamaha dealers and all UNLV Tickets outlets including: The Galleria at Sunset and all stations Casinos and Fiesta Properties. Charge by phone at 866-8-FINALS or 702-739-FANS. Gates open at 12:30 pm for the Las Vegas Supercross Pit Party where fans can meet the riders and watch practice and qualifying. A special Family Section is also available for non-alcoholic family fun. When ordering tickets request Family Section for an alcohol-free family atmosphere.