After a slow start to the season, James Stewart appears to be back where he belongs – in the championship hunt.
Leading 33-of-34 laps across the two 450 Class motos Saturday at High Point, it was a dominant day for Stewart en route to a 1-1 sweep. It’s the first overall victory of the season for the Yoshimura Suzuki rider, who has now won three of the last four motos raced.
Stewart, who wasn’t fully satisfied with his bike during the first two rounds, will head into the off-week with a lot of momentum. “Good way to go into the break,” the 2008 series champion said after the win. “We still got a ways to go, but we’re starting off the right way. We’re getting there.”
The most exciting racing in both motos came directly behind Stewart with Trey Canard, Ken Roczen and Ryan Dungey repeatedly engaged in tight three-way battles for position. All three riders seemed fairly evenly-matched, and most of the position changes came from mistakes on the track.
In the first moto, Roczen – who had fallen from the bike at one point – moved up from fourth to second late in the race after miscues from both Dungey and Canard. Dungey got cross-rutted going off a jump, causing him to come up short on the landing and go off the track. A few minutes later, Canard crashed on a jump with two laps left.
Canard would fare better in Moto 2, successfully defending the second-place spot from his challengers. Meanwhile Roczen would benefit from another mistake by Dungey. Having already swapped positions twice in the battle for third, Dungey went down with two laps to go and handed the spot back to Roczen. Thanks to the late pass, Roczen secured third in the moto and second-overall for the day, while Dungey missed the overall podium for just the second time since 2011.
More importantly for Dungey, it’s a setback as he attempts to track down Roczen in the championship race. Giving up a position to Roczen in each moto resulted in an 8-point swing in the standings, increasing Roczen’s lead to 16 points. Meanwhile Stewart is closing in, having now pulled to within 22 points of Roczen.
High Point 450 Class Overall Results
1. James Stewart (1-1)
2. Ken Roczen (2-3)
3. Trey Canard (4-2)
4. Ryan Dungey (3-4)
5. Josh Grant (6-6)
6. Weston Peick (10-5)
7. Andrew Short (7-8)
8. Chad Reed (5-10)
9. Brett Metcalfe (9-7)
10. Phil Nicoletti (8-12)
*Moto 1 and Moto 2 results in parenthesis