Catching Up With James Stewart

The Atlanta Supercross marked the race where James Stewart personally designed the track. However, as anyone under the sun knows, James had to bow out of the series after needing surgery to repair his left knee with just two full races into the 2008 season. Five races later the Supercross series swung East to Atlanta, which is only a short trip for James Stewart to travel from his home in Florida.

Bubba has been criticized by the media in recent years for shutting himself off from releasing any public knowledge of his injuries and keeping things secretive. However, since the U.S. Open (where Stewart called a press conference and personally informed the media that he was going to sit out the race), he has been somewhat of a P.R. guru. He called a press conference at Anaheim 2 when he announced his knee problem and that he was going to sit out the Supercross series, and then called another press conference in Atlanta to update the media about his progress. We can say without question that this is a side of James Stewart that we like to see, being completely open about his injury and also allowing the media to ask him questions.

A small group of media attendees sat around Stewart on Saturday evening, firing questions at the Monster Energy/Kawasaki rider. Below are some quotes that James said.

“LAST WEDNESDAY was four weeks since the surgery, actually four and a half weeks since the surgery. So far I’ve been doing pretty good, and I can do most of my training. Obviously I can’ run or anything like that, but I’m glad that I got it [the surgery] done. It’s tough having to sit around and watch these guys race, though. The knee is feeling pretty good, though.

“I CAN DO pretty much everything. I started strength training and now I’m trying to get everything, motion-wise, covered. Iƒ’ve been on the road bicycle a lot and I can do pretty much everything normal.”

“I HAD A full ACL replacement. The doctor took the replacement out of my hamstring. I was talking with the doctor and we agreed that to be the best way to go. When you use a cadaver then there’s a chance where it will only last a few years. When you get something done like this, you want to get it done right. A cadaver is faster to heal, but sometimes your body rejects the replacement, and obviously it’s better when you pull it out of your own body. It will take a little longer to get back to full coverage, but in the long run it’s a lot better.

“A LOT OF RIDERS don’ have an ACL. I don’ think you have to have one unless you start having issues with it. For me, I feel like I’m going to be a lot better and have a lot more strength in my knee compared to how it was in the past. When I had my knee fixed up after Washougal I never had full trust to put my leg down and plant, and now I will. Obviously when I first start out I’ll be a little timid and not want to hurt it.”

“IF I START RIDING just a week before the start of the outdoor season then I’ll need to take some time to get back into it. With the outdoor season you just have to be out there every week doing well. It showed last year when [Grant] Langston won it last year.”

“IF I’M NOT one hundred percent ready then I won’ race. If my knee’s not stable enough then I’ll take more time. I’d be better off just coming back later than having to hurt my knee and start it all over again.

“AS FAR AS my progress, I think that I will be ready for the season.”
“NOT RACING is tough. I listen to the live web cast on the Internet, but going and sitting in the stands drives me crazy. Still, to look at the future and kind of know that when I get back Iƒ’ll be one hundred percent and be a lot better than I have been in years is what I look forward to. It gets me motivated.

“BASICALLY, I gave them a layout for Atlanta and showed up but didn’t recognize the track [laughter]. I wanted to make the track easy. I thought, “?Iƒ’m going to be racing the series and I’m going to design a track then I want it to be easy.’ I feel that if you put to barrels out there and do donuts then the same guy will still be out front. When they changed the track and put in those walls, I was glad that I wasn’ racing on that track! The track is definitely technical and now that Iƒ’m sitting in the stands I like the track. I like those walls out there. I like the whoop section.”

“THE HARDEST PART was trying not to walk with a limp. Everyone saw a difference in my riding style and my attitude, because it was a little different than normal. Things happen, and I was able to get through that race [Anaheim 1], but I knew that it was a matter of time before I would have to get it fixed.”

“THE BIGGEST SURPRISE is how the guys can lead and then in the last two laps fade off so hard. I knew going into it that Chad [Reed] was the guy to beat, but I thought that Millsaps and Ferry would have something more for him. Sitting and watching it as a fan and seeing it on TV made me realize how good I am and how good me and Ricky [Carmichael] are to be able to battle like we did and be so far out front. When I watch on TV I think those guys look so fast, and to go and win races makes me feel good. The biggest surprise is that there hasn’ been a challenge to Chad other than last weekend [at Houston], but he gave that race away more than anything.”

“RECENTLY IT WAS THE first time I ever talked to Ricky about my racing. I asked him if he was ever scared when we were battling. He would do some stuff, especially in the outdoor series, where he’d land off a jump and go wide open into the section and I thought, “?Here we go again.” He couldn’t believe that I was thinking that, because there were a couple of times when we were racing through the whoops and we would hold on and go for it. It was actually pretty cool to talk to him and be honest and open with him. He’s a really good guy and has a lot of motivation. He always looks forward to the future and taking a bad situation and turning it around and making it good. He definitely kept me motivated and he tells me every day that I’m only getting closer to the top of the mountain, but I have to keep on climbing.”

“I DON’ WANT to miss Glen Helen, but yeah, I think that I could miss Glen Helen and still win the championship. Look at 2003. I missed four races and I lost by 20 points, but they canceled one race. When you put pressure on the other guy is when you see when the real champions come out.”
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