It’s said that a number-one plate carries extra weight in the form of intangibles—the feeling that everyone’s now gunning for you. But Trevor Stewart certainly didn’t ride like anything was bothering him at the So Cal Motorcycle Club’s Adelanto Grand Prix in Adelanto, California, round 1 of the now more prestigious FMF AMA National Grand Prix Championship Series (formerly the AMA District 37 Big 6 GP Series).
The Johnny Campbell Racing (JCR) Honda rider insisted, “It’s a good feeling [riding with the number-one plate]. It’s a feeling I’ve waited a long time for, but nothing too much has changed—the training program’s the same, doing all the work throughout the week, and I think it’s going to pay off. We’re just ready for a solid year of racing in 2019 and hopefully go defend this championship that we have. I think we’re more than ready to show what we’re capable of and put the red number plate out front and take a win today.”
Unfortunately, with the Rocky Mountain ATV-MC World Off-Road Championship Series (WORCS) running on the exact same weekend (for Adelanto as well as several other rounds this season), a number of top pros had a tough decision on which series to chase. Being the reigning champion, of course it made sense for Stewart to stick with the GP and he weighed in on the conflict: “It’s kind of a bummer that some guys aren’t here, but at the same time, I wouldn’t say it’s nice or anything like that—I don’t want to make anything easy or anything like that, and I still think it’s going to be a really good year of racing. Our focus and Honda’s focus this year is chasing [an AMA] National championship.”
Stewart grabbed the lead early in the weekend’s 90-minute feature race and appeared to be on his way to certain victory with flawless, confident riding. Justin Seeds, however, had other ideas. Making his prime-time debut for Purvines Racing Yamaha, Seeds lurked a few seconds behind Stewart throughout the opening hour, Stewart unable to shake him. And when Seeds saw an opportunity pop up with just under 30 minutes to go, he pulled the trigger, snuck past, and successfully held off Stewart’s desperate attempts to retaliate, besting the current champ by only one second at the finish.
The convincing winner of Saturday’s combined Heavyweight/Lightweight race, Seeds said, “I got a good idea of what [today’s pace] was going to be. The track was a little gnarlier today, which was surprising. I’ve got to give it up to Trevor. Dude, the kid was ripping! Honestly, I don’t know how I stayed in front of him. I think he kind of checked up a little bit, was kind of saving some energy for a last-lap sprint. When we hit that last lap, I was like, ‘Oh boy, here we go.’ I could just hear him behind me, lappers were getting in the way—I’m like, ‘Well, I’m either going to win this thing or I’m gonna crash!’ and I came out on top. I know it’s going to be a hard year, but I’m looking forward to battling him all year and giving him some competition.”
HYR Honda-mounted Derek Kelley rode a solitary third for the majority of the race, finishing three minutes behind for his best-to-date result as he starts his second full year in the series in a primarily self-funded effort. FMF/Maxxis/RPM Racing/KTM’s Eric Yorba, the 2016 series champ, was another minute back for fourth as he continues to regain strength in the shoulder he hurt early last season, and Beta-mounted Mason Ottersberg rounded out the top five, his best result to date as he begins his second full season in the series.