Consistency was key this season for Rockstar Energy Husqvarna Factory Racing’s Malcolm Stewart, who topped off a career-best season of third overall in the AMA 450 Supercross Championship with a fighting fourth in Salt Lake City, Utah. Teammate RJ Hampshire also put in a strong ride at the season finale, claiming fourth in the combined 250SX East/West Showdown Main Event and runner-up in the 250SX Eastern Regional Championship.
Stewart has been battling to maintain a coveted top-three position in the 450SX Championship standings for most of the season and the Florida native had no intentions of letting it go at the final round. With a strong and smooth performance in 450SX Heat 1, Stewart secured a third-place transfer into the Main Event.
He grabbed a top-five start in the Main Event, racing his way into fourth early on. Patiently positioning himself for a podium push, Stewart made his move into third just before the halfway point but he was taken out a few turns later, dropping him back to sixth. Despite losing his momentum, Stewart quickly re-mounted and began chipping away at a podium position late in the race, coming within less than a second of making it happen before a mistake – just a few turns before the finish – solidified him in fourth.
With three podiums and 10 top-five finishes in 2022, Stewart was able to clinch a career-best third overall in the 450SX Championship Standings.
“The night was great honestly, and I was riding really good all day,” Stewart said. “In the Main Event, I made a pass for third and got into it with Barcia and he shuffled me back a couple positions. I was able to make my way back up and run him down again, all the way to the last lap, but I had a lapped rider in front of me and made a little mistake. The big goal for us was to end on a high note with third in the series and we accomplished that, so I can’t thank the whole team enough for a great year! We’ve been solid and we’ve been smooth, so let’s take this thing outdoors!”
In the 250SX class, riders from both divisions started off with two separate paths of qualifying, which led to one combined East/West Showdown Main Event at the end of the night. In the Eastern region, RJ Hampshire had a tough start to the heat race but he was able to put his head down and salvage an eighth-place transfer into the E/W Showdown.
In the Main Event, Hampshire got out of the gate in fourth and he battled inside the top-five all race long. Swapping positions just outside the podium, St. Louis Triple Crown winner came away just shy of the podium to capture his third top-five finish of the season and second overall in the 250SX Eastern Regional Championship.
“We started out a little bit of a struggle but we salvaged that Main Event,” Hampshire said. “We got a good start from the outside and I felt like I rode pretty solid for the second half of the race and gave ourselves a shot at the podium. I’m stoked to end the season on a good note, a healthy note, and second in the championship. I can’t be too bummed, especially with how it started, so just to be here at the end is a huge improvement for myself and the team. Another series coming up, so I’m excited to get it going again.”
In the Western division, Jalek Swoll found himself buried off the start of his heat race but he went to work battling his way through the field to ultimately secure a ninth-place finish. In the Main Event, Swoll secured a great jump off the start and he battled up front to the first turn until he got hit and shuffled back right away on the opening lap. He fought into the top-10 just after the halfway point and putting in a strong charge at the end of the race, he came away with his sixth top-10 finish of the season.
“It was super muddy in the heat race and I didn’t have a great start, so that was kind of a struggle and it put me on the outside in the main,” Swoll said. “I actually had a really good start and was coming into the first turn as one of the first bikes and I got hit and went all the way backwards. That pretty much ruined the night when it comes to a track that’s really tight for passing. I think the speed was a lot better these last two rounds than all year, so we’ll take that and get some more comfort in the off-season so we can come out swinging.”