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Former supercross champ James Stewart struggles out of the gate

January 07, 2013|By Jim Peltz
  • James Stewart competes at Angel Stadium in 2007.
James Stewart competes at Angel Stadium in 2007. (Allen J. Schaben / Los Angeles…)

As the sold-out crowd of 45,050 roared at the start of the pre-race rider introductions at the supercross series' season opener at Angel Stadium, one rider was noticeably missing: James Stewart.

At first no one was quite sure why Stewart, the series champion in 2007 and 2009, was not on his Yoshimura Suzuki motorcycle. After all, the Floridian had posted the fastest time during qualifying.

But it turned out that during practice Stewart also had twisted his right knee, so he used the time during the rider introductions to ice and elevate the knee.

"I didn't fall over, I just caught my knee wrong," he said.

Stewart, 27, then rode a conservative race in the 20-lap main event Saturday night, finishing eighth in a race won by David Millsaps of Murrieta.

Stewart said he was not disheartened, noting that Ryan Villopoto -- who is seeking his third consecutive Monster Energy AMA Supercross title -- had an even worse night, finishing 16th.

"My main competition finished eight spots behind me, so we're right there in points," Stewart said of Villopoto.

As for the injury, Stewart said he would have it checked "and if everything is good with the knee, we'll continue on to Phoenix" for the next race, on Saturday night.

Supercross, the stadium version of off-road motorcycle racing, returns to Angel Stadium on Jan. 19 for the third race of the 17-race season.

Stewart is trying to become the first rider to win nine times in Anaheim in supercross' top division; he's currently tied with Jeremy McGrath with eight wins.

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