A career-best finish for Malcolm Stewart is a cause for celebration and studying for the six-year veteran in the Monster Energy AMA Supercross Championship.
“I’m excited. We’re just going to keep moving forward and got more races to go,” said Stewart after the first Triple Crown race of the 2022 season.
After turning pro in 2011, Stewart climbed the ladder in the shadow of his brother, two-time Supercross 450SX champion James Stewart. After winning the 250SX East championship in 2016, he made the move to the big leagues with Suzuki to start the 2017 season. From there, he continued to work on his craft and with various teams before landing with Rockstar Energy Husqvarna Factory Racing.
Sunday’s finish marked his second career podium in the 450 Supercross class, third if you count the exhibition Monster Energy Cup – the “all-star” race of Supercross. It starts his 2022 season with four top-five finishes in the first five races.
“As a rider, your expectations are there,” said the Rockstar Energy Husqvarna rider. “But I feel like even if this is something that you just gotta take what you can get – and I feel like we were kind of getting some with a seventh, fifth and fifths – I feel like it’s just learning the motorcycle and being around the team. It’s an entire change for me, so I feel like this is something that you just gotta get through the rounds. Then sure enough, you know four or five rounds in, you’re starting to get the ball rolling. And this is like that time. I feel really good about everything and I’m not frustrated or anything.
“If you’re around me at the pits, I’m smiling, just giggling away so that that aspect is still the same. But you know when I put that helmet on, it’s all about serious because I want to be there.”
And while all eyes have been on Ken Roczen on his championship hopes, Eli Tomac with his move to Yamaha, and Chase Sexton on his sophomore comeback season, Stewart continues to ride smoothly through the field to quietly sit fourth in the championship standings and ready to pounce upon the three competitors ahead. It’s no secret that doubt has lurked through his mind and across social media, but after the start to this season, the seeds of confidence are reaping rewards of smiles and glory.
“All the hard work that I did in the offseason, there is no doubt in my mind that I shouldn’t be up there,” said Stewart with a grin. “It’s an overall package, you gotta learn the motorcycle and we’re still learning it more and more. These Triple Crown races just help for more data with the bike. We’re leaning in the right direction as you can see. We ended up second overall, so I’m excited.”
Husqvarna only holds one 450SX Supercross championship with Jason Anderson in 2018. Four years later, the face of the organization is one who sits fourth in the points standings, the highest since Anderson finished fourth in 2020. The promise for even higher results by seasons’ end is the educational hat Stewart loves to wear.
“The first couple rounds, we were just learning the bike and when putting it into the race conditions, you start to learn how the motorcycle works. I feel like we did a really big turn around this week. I feel like we really just went back to the basics whenever we first got on the bike and I felt like that really improved everything. This has always been one of the motorcycles I wanted to ride so when I finally got the opportunity, I believed in it. Every motorcycle is different. An aluminum frame to a steel frame, it’s going to be a little bit different, but I felt like this week we made a massive change. Basically went all the way back to the basics.
“So I think just this Triple Crown if anything only helped me get more data for the motorcycle.”
It’s been a long road for the No. 27 competitor from Florida. But a different one, and a journey where he holds nothing but smiles embarking.
“Anytime that you get on the box, it kind of just lightens the weight on your shoulders. It feels good.”