Courtesy Feld Motorsports: In arguably the biggest move in the off season, James Stewart, of Haines City, Fla., signed a five year agreement with the Toyota/Yamaha/JGR MX team. Stewart will make his debut on the Joe Gibbs Racing machine January 7, 2012, at Angel Stadium in Anaheim, Calif., when the Monster Energy AMA Supercross, an FIM World Championship, begins.
Stewart, a two-time Supercross Class champion, and former AMA Motocross Champion, has created mainstream headway for the sport of supercross since turning professional in 2002, becoming the first-ever African American to win a major motorsports title. The highly-publicized move to the Gibbs team garnered national media coverage, including the front page of USA Today, The Wall Street Journal and ESPN’s Sports Center, to name a few, for the 25-year-old phenom.
The winner of 42 Supercross Class main events, Stewart suggested he will eventually make the transition to four wheels under the Joe Gibbs Racing banner. However, he hasn’t lost sight of becoming supercross’ all-time winningest rider, a title currently held by seven-time Supercross Class champion Jeremy McGrath, who boasts 72 wins.
Stewart told USA Today: “My No. 1 focus is get to 73 wins, and after that, we can hit NASCAR full force. We are definitely making steps to hopefully battling with Junior (Dale Earnhardt) and (Jimmie) Johnson. I am looking forward to it as another challenge in life. The cool part is maybe I have a chance to be great in two different sports.”
Currently 31 wins away from breaking McGrath’s record, Stewart, whose known as one of the fastest riders on the planet, has only been beat six times in a race that he did not crash. However, he possesses a 92% career win/crash rate, and through his first four seasons, he literally won, or crashed. It wasn’t until his fifth season that a competitor was able to beat Stewart in a race that he didn’t crash. Stewart may be his own biggest competitor, but this year’s field is stacked with nine different Supercross Class winners, a stat that’s never been part of this 38-year tradition.
The Gibbs family has long been synonymous with winning, having captured three NASCAR titles and three NFL Super Bowl championships. It’s been four years since Joe Gibbs Racing MX was established, debuting on the Monster Energy Supercross circuit, and this year, Team President Coy Gibbs is ready to get his family another coveted trophy.
Gibbs stated, “When we started the supercross team in 2008, we had a building phase and a championship phase. We spent the past four years learning the sport and the equipment, and now we are ready to compete at the highest level with an accomplished and talented athlete like James Stewart, along with our founding partners Toyota and Yamaha.” (The Joe Gibbs Racing team also has a multi time Supercross class main event winner, number 18, Davi Millsaps.)
The 2012 Monster Energy AMA Supercross, an FIM World Championship, season gets underway in just a matter of weeks, from Angel Stadium on Anaheim, Calif., on Saturday, January 7.