450 Words: OaklandSunday, January 29, 2012 | 7:15 PM
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Last night James Stewart became the fourth winner—and on the fourth different brand—in as many weeks. He did it by despite the tragic news of the death of his Joe Gibbs Racing/Toyota Yamaha mechanic Mark “Tex” Adams, and also despite the growing number of critics who were guessing that Stewart's time at the “fastest man on the planet” may have passed. He also reeled in his old nemesis Chad Reed and took the lead from him, even while being pressured by defending series champion Ryan Villopoto. The other winner so far, Red Bull KTM's Ryan Dungey, was not a factor for the race win last night in Oakland, but he does retain a share of the series points lead with Reed.
Last week Dungey shared the red plate with Villopoto. This weekend he'll share it with Reed.
But fans hoping that we will see a fifth winner in as many weeks come Anaheim 2 may be disappointed. These four riders—Reed, Dungey, Villopoto and Stewart—are a level above everyone else right now. While we've seen some good rides by the likes of Jake Weimer, Andrew Short, Justin Brayton and Kevin Windham, only Weimer has managed to make a podium along with the Big Four. Muscle Milk Honda's Trey Canard might have been able to attach himself to the leaders, but his crash with Ryan Morais last weekend after gathering a Tuff Block up with his bike means the likely end to his season. (For what it's worth, Feld Motorsports has begun strapping the bottom of the barrier covers down in the hopes such accidents will be less likely to happen in the future.)
The parity we're seeing now likely won't last all season, as one of these men could get on a hot streak that carries them away from the others. And injury is always a possibility at this level of the sport. But we've had through the month of January has been extremely entertaining, and here's hoping it lasts all the way through Las Vegas.
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Jean-Michel Bayle, the iconic superstar of yesteryear, raced motocross for the first time in twenty-one years at the Vets MXdN in England. Page 126.