Although we won’t be able to see Kawasaki’s James Stewart race for at least several weeks following his practice crash in Phoenix on Saturday (resulting in a broken left forearm), he did ride both practice sessions with his competitors in Phoenix (on Friday and Saturday). This was a dry supercross track where Stewart and the other riders apparently tried their best to psyche each other out with quick lap times. The result? When you combine the practice sessions on Friday and Saturday, Ricky Carmichael had the fastest lap, two-tenths faster than James Stewart’s best lap time.
Kevin Windham was roughly two-tenths of a second slower than Stewart’s best. In the end, Stewart is not dramatically quicker than the other top riders in the class, as some had speculated.
In the post-race press conference, Ricky Carmichael pointed out that James Stewart and Chad Reed had raised the level necessary to compete in supercross, and that Carmichael had changed his style to reach that level. While watching Carmichael race at Phoenix, just as he had at the Canadian races a few weeks ago, he kept his bike significantly lower over jumps than he had in previous years (employing his version of the “Bubba Scrub”). Always known for his corner speed, Carmichael appears even quicker through the corners this year.
In the end, it appears that Stewart was ready to do battle with the top riders in the class, but he would not have dominated them. We hope he returns to action soon.