AMA

Atlanta: Round nine preview

Reed not backing off despite AMA THQ Supercross lead Aussie coming to Atlanta looking for Victory PICKERINGTON, Ohio (February 24, 2004) -- The AMA THQ Supercross Series begins the second half of the season this Saturday, Feb 28, at the Georgia...

Reed not backing off despite AMA THQ Supercross lead
Aussie coming to Atlanta looking for Victory

PICKERINGTON, Ohio (February 24, 2004) -- The AMA THQ Supercross Series begins the second half of the season this Saturday, Feb 28, at the Georgia Dome in Atlanta. Yamaha's Chad Reed holds a 23-point lead over Factory Connection Honda's Kevin Windham coming into round nine of the 16-race series, but despite his strong position in the standings Reed has no intention of going into points-protection mode. Reed and Windham will renew their rivalry this weekend in the Dome in the main 250 class, while James Stewart hopes to set a new AMA record in the 125 class.

Windham dominated last week's round in the Metrodome in Minneapolis, Reed was second. That lead some journalists to question whether or not Reed was backing off just a tad to protect the lead he'd built in the opening half of the season. Reed bristled at the suggestion.

"I don't go out there to race anything less than first," said Reed, who has won five rounds so far. "I go out there and try to win. That is what we all get paid to do and to give our all at all times. I've got to get a little better start and be more aggressive at the beginning of the races."

For Windham's part he will try to string together his first winning streak of the season on the red-clay dirt of the Georgia Dome floor. Up to this point the rider from Centreville, Mississippi, has managed to win three races, but has yet to produce back-to-back victories. This weekend marks the return of Windham to the race that sent him into a long injury-induced retirement. In 2002 Windham suffered a break of his right femur in practice at the Georgia Dome. He would not return to AMA Supercross racing until this year. Despite coming back to Atlanta for the first time since the accident Windham is coming into the race with confidence.

"This year I'm a lot more prepared obviously," he says. "I'm enjoying what I'm doing and have been working hard. When I went to Atlanta the year I was hurt I was not on my game, I wasn't feeling good and wasn't working as hard as I needed to. My preparation is a lot better this year and going into Atlanta I'm looking at it optimistically and certainly not trying to focus on what happened there two years ago."

Reed's Yamaha teammate David Vuillemin took sole possession of third in the standings after finishing third in Minneapolis. He and veteran Mike LaRocco, of Factory Connection Honda, are locked into a tight battle for third in the series. The two could be in championship contention should anything happen to Reed and Windham in the second half of the '04 season.

In the 125 East ranks the story has been the sheer dominance of Kawasaki's James Stewart.

The 18-year-old phenom was spectacular again last week in Minneapolis, turning lap times that would have put him in contention for the win in the 250 class. Stewart comes into Atlanta with the opportunity to set a record in AMA Pro Racing. If he wins Atlanta Stewart will become the all-time winningest rider in AMA 125 Supercross history. He shares the record with Hall of Famer Jeremy McGrath after earning his 13th-career win in the class last weekend.

"Tying McGrath's record is really cool," said Stewart of his victory in Minneapolis. "It was definitely one of my goals before the start of the season. He's the best the sport's ever seen and I'm just lucky to have a chance to break one of his records."

Local Georgia fans will also be rooting for supercross rookie David Millsaps from Cairo, Ga.

The young Suzuki rider, and winner of the AMA Horizon Award, made his professional debut last weekend in Minneapolis and will be looking forward to racing on the red clay that he's accustomed to.

The 250 and 125 finals will receive next-day coverage on ESPN2 starting at 4 p.m. Eastern. To get tickets for the race call (630) 566-6100 or visit www.tickets.com.

-ama-

Be part of something big

Write a comment
Show comments
About this article
Series AMA
Drivers David Vuillemin , Kevin Windham , Jeremy McGrath , Chad Reed , James Stewart