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Anaheim: Season opener preview and schedule

Carmichael Opens AMA EA Sports Supercross Title Defense In Anaheim PICKERINGTON, Ohio -- He's on a different motorcycle this year, but Ricky Carmichael hopes the results will be the same. Carmichael, the 2001 AMA Supercross champion, will open...

Carmichael Opens AMA EA Sports Supercross Title Defense In Anaheim

PICKERINGTON, Ohio -- He's on a different motorcycle this year, but Ricky Carmichael hopes the results will be the same. Carmichael, the 2001 AMA Supercross champion, will open his title defense this Saturday, Jan. 5, at Edison International Field in Anaheim, Calif., in round one of the 2002 AMA EA Sports Supercross Series. The race will be televised Sunday on ABC's Wide World of Sports.

Carmichael, 22, will ride a factory Honda this year after spending his entire career with Kawasaki. Honda hopes that "RC" can return the team to the kind of success in supercross it had through the mid-1990s with Jeremy McGrath. McGrath will be back with Yamaha this year with sponsorship from Bud Light. The all-time leading winner in AMA Supercross history turned 30 in November, but is reportedly entering this season in the best shape of his life. McGrath won the season opener in Anaheim last year, but Carmichael went on to win a record-tying 14 races to dominate the series--McGrath finished a distant second. McGrath considers Anaheim his home track and he is the all-time leading winner at the venue with eight-career victories at the stadium.

While all eyes will be on the Carmichael-McGrath showdown, a number of other riders hope to fly in under the radar and steal away a surprise win in Anaheim.

AMA 125 East and West Supercross champs Travis Pastrana and Ernesto Fonseca are both stepping up to the big class full-time this year. Pastrana is back with the factory Sobe Suzuki team and is hoping to stay injury free after an injury plagued 2001 season. Fonseca will be teammate to Carmichael, Sebastien Tortelli and Nathan Ramsey on the powerful factory Honda team and will be back riding a two-stroke (Honda's CR250) after a season on a Yamaha four-stroke.

Team Chevy Trucks Kawasaki is the defending championship-winning team in Supercross. This year the squad will try to make up for the loss of Carmichael by fielding former Honda star Ezra Lusk and Frenchman Stephane Roncada. Lusk, who began his career on Kawasaki, is eager to prove he can again be a winner in Supercross. After winning Supercross races in 1997, 1998 and 1999, he has been shut out the last two seasons. Lusk is a two-time winner at Anaheim.

Veteran rider Mike LaRocco, who will be starting his 15th season in AMA Supercross, is back this year after finishing third in the supercross standings last year. LaRocco is riding for the Factory Connection Honda squad and is hoping to get better starts this year after having to ride come-from-behind races at nearly every event last year. Kevin Windham is the other rider a lot of people are talking about. Windham turned in some great rides last year and is returning with the factory Suzuki team. He hopes to give Suzuki its first win at Anaheim in over 20 years.

The AMA 125 West Region championship will also kick off Saturday. This race will mark the highly-anticipated pro debut of 16-year-old James "Bubba" Stewart, the rider who won a record number of AMA amateur motocross championships. Stewart is the first African-American to earn a factory AMA Supercross ride.

Saturday's season opener is also the first round of the Vans Triple Crown. Any rider who can win this weekend and in the other two rounds of the triple crown– Atlanta on Feb. 23 an

<pre> AMA/EA SPORTS SUPERCROSS SERIES SCHEDULE OF EVENTS

Edison International Field, Anaheim, California

SATURDAY JANUARY 5, 2002

9:00 a.m. - 11:30 a.m.   Rider registration and Tech Inspection  at the Venue
9:00 a.m. - 12:00 noon   Bonus Awards Participant/Mechanic registration at the Venue
11:00 a.m. - 12:00 noon  Rider Track Walk
11:00 a.m. - 12:00 noon  Junior Supercross Riders Meeting (Mandatory)
12:00 noon - 12:15 p.m.  Riders Meeting (Mandatory)
12:15 p.m. - 12:30 p.m.  Junior Supercross Practice
12:30 p.m. - 1:15 p.m.   125cc Practice
1:30 p.m. - 2:15 p.m.    250cc Practice
2:15 p.m. - 2:45 p.m.    Track Maintenance
2:45 p.m. - 3:15 p.m.    125cc Practice
3:15 p.m. - 3:45 p.m.    250cc Practice
3:45 p.m. - 5:30 p.m.    Qualifying Heats
5:30 p.m. - 5:45 p.m.    Junior Supercross Practice
5:45 p.m. - 6:45 p.m.    Track Maintenance
7:00 p.m. - 7:20 p.m.    Opening Ceremonies
7:30 p.m. - 7:40 p.m.    125cc Heat #1 - 6 laps - 20 riders (1st - 9th to Main)
7:40 p.m. - 7:50 p.m.    125cc Heat #2 - 6 laps - 20 riders (1st - 9th to Main)
7:50 p.m. - 8:00 p.m.    250cc Heat #1 - 8 laps - 20 riders (1st - 4th to Main) (5th - 20th to Semi 1)
8:00 p.m. - 8:10 p.m.    250cc Heat #2 - 8 laps - 20 riders (1st - 4th to Main) (5th - 20th to Semi 2)
8:10 p.m. - 8:25 p.m.    Junior Supercross Exhibition- 3 laps - 15 riders
8:25 p.m. - 8:35 p.m.    Track Maintenance (10 minutes)
8:35 p.m. - 8:40 p.m.    125cc Last Chance Qualifier - 4 laps - 22 riders (1st - 4th to Main)
8:40 p.m. - 8:50 p.m.    250cc Semi #1 - 6 laps - 16 riders (1st - 5th to Main) (6th - 16th to LCQ)
8:50 p.m. - 9:00 p.m.    250cc Semi #2 - 6 laps - 16 riders (1st - 5th to Main) (6th - 16th to LCQ)
9:00 p.m. - 9:10 p.m.    Track Maintenance/ EA Sports Challenge Main
9:10 p.m. - 9:20 p.m.    250cc Last Chance Qualifier - 6 laps - 22 riders- (1st & 2nd to Main)
9:20 p.m. - 9:25 p.m.    125cc Rider's Parade Lap
9:25 p.m. - 9:45 p.m.    125cc Main Event - 15 laps - 22 riders
9:50 p.m. - 9:55 p.m.    250cc Rider's Parade Lap
9:55 p.m. - 10:15 p.m.   250cc Main Event - 20 laps- 20 riders

AMA Pro Racing is the leading sanctioning body for professional motorcycle sport in the United States. For more information about AMA Pro Racing, visit www.amaproracing.com.

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About this article
Series AMA
Drivers Travis Pastrana , Kevin Windham , Jeremy McGrath , Ezra Lusk , Sebastien Tortelli , Mike LaRocco