PICKERINGTON, Ohio -- For only the second time in the last decade of AMA Supercross Series racing, the championship will be decided in the final round. Honda's Ricky Carmichael, the defending champ, and Yamaha's Chad Reed, racing his first full ...
PICKERINGTON, Ohio -- For only the second time in the last decade of AMA Supercross Series racing, the championship will be decided in the final round. Honda's Ricky Carmichael, the defending champ, and Yamaha's Chad Reed, racing his first full season in the series, are separated by only 10 points coming into the season finale at Sam Boyd Stadium in Las Vegas, this Saturday, May 3.
Reed's spectacular comeback in the second half of the season has witnessed the 21-year-old Australian win five races in a row, the longest winning streak of the season, match Carmichael's seven wins on the year and whittle Carmichael's lead down from a season high of 25 points just a month-and-a-half ago to 10. Carmichael still has the upper hand, though. He needs only to finish fifth or better to secure his third AMA Supercross title. However, the momentum seems to be clearly on Reed's side.
To put the Las Vegas race in historical perspective, only once in the last 10 years has the AMA Supercross Series been decided in the final round. That was in 1997 when Jeff Emig and Jeremy McGrath battled to the final race, with Emig putting a temporary end to McGrath's dominance that year. To find a year when the championship points race was as close as this season, you have to go back to 1992 when only six points separated Damon Bradshaw and Jeff Stanton going into the final round. That year Bradshaw led in points coming into the final round, but inexplicably had an off night and finished back in fifth while Stanton won the race and took home the title.
To add to the already heightened interest in the Las Vegas finale is the fact that Carmichael believes that the Yamaha riders are looking to take him out to give Reed a chance to win the championship. In Salt Lake City, he confronted Yamaha's Tim Ferry after the race for what he perceived as a cheap shot taken during the race. He also criticized Reed's pass on him. "I have a lot to lose out here," he said after the Salt Lake race. "I have been known to ride dirty, but I don't want to do that. I don't want to have to take anyone out. Those guys are desperate and will do whatever they have to beat me."
In Salt Lake City last week Carmichael crashed after he and Reed made contact. Reed claimed it was a clean passing maneuver. "I had a good line coming through the whoops before that corner where Ricky (Carmichael) went down and made an aggressive pass," said Reed. "It's unfortunate he went down but that's racing."
So what will Carmichael's strategy be in Las Vegas? He gave a clue of what it might be in the post-race press conference in Salt Lake City last Saturday. "In a perfect world I'll get a good start and get away from all that mess," he said. "I don't want to be a chump and go out getting beat six straight times, but if I have to settle for second, I'll do that to preserve the championship."
Carmichael is a two-time winner of the Las Vegas Supercross.
While the spotlight in Las Vegas will be burning brightly on the Carmichael/Reed battle, the Dave Coombs Sr. 125 Shootout race will be yet another bonus for racing fans. The top riders from the 125 East and 125 West Regions will come together for their annual grudge match.
James Stewart, the recently crowned AMA 125 West champ, leads the list of riders competing in the Shootout. The young Kawasaki ace won the race last year and is looking to take his second-straight Shootout win and become only the second rider in the six-year history of the Shootout to win twice. East Region champ Branden Jesseman was injured in a practice crash and will miss the race, but the East still has a strong contingent of riders led by veteran Mike Brown. East riders lead the Shootout series 4-2 over the West.
The Las Vegas Supercross will be broadcast on ABC's "Wide World of Sports" on Sunday, May 4 from 2-3 p.m. Eastern.
For immediate post-race results, points, live transponder scoring, in-depth series and rider information, regular columnists and much more, log onto www.USMotocross.com.
<pre> SCHEDULE OF EVENTS
Sam Boyd Stadium- Las Vegas, NV
SATURDAY MAY 3 ,2003 12:30 pm - 1:15 pm - 125 Practice 1:30 pm - 2:15 pm - 250 Practice 2:15 pm - 2:45 pm - KTM Junior Supercross practice 2:45 pm - 3:00 pm - Track Maintence 3:00 pm - 3:30 pm - 125 Practice 3:30 pm - 4:00 pm - 250 Practice 4:00 pm - 5:30 pm - Qualifying Heats 5:30 pm - 5:45 pm - KTM Junior Supercross Practice 5:45 pm - 6:45 pm - Track Maintenance 7:00 pm - 7:20 pm - Opening Ceremonies 7:30 pm - 7:40 pm - 125 Heat #1 - 6 laps - 20 riders (1st - 9th to Main) 7:40 pm - 7:50 pm - 125 Heat #2 - 6 laps - 20 riders (1st - 9th to Main) 7:50 pm - 8:00 pm - 250 Heat #1 - 8 laps - 20 riders (1st - 4th to Main) (5th - 20th to Semi 1) 8:00 pm - 8:10 pm - 250 Heat #2 - 8 laps - 20 riders (1st - 4th to Main) (5th - 20th to Semi 2) 8:10 pm - 8:25 pm - KTM Junior Supercross Exhibition- 3 laps - 15 riders 8:25 pm - 8:35 pm - Track Maintenance (10 minutes) 8:35 pm - 8:40 pm - 125 East/West Last Chance Qualifier - 4 laps 22 ride (1st - 4th to Main) 8:40 pm - 8:50 pm - 250 Semi #1 - 6 laps - 16 riders (1st - 5th to Main) (6th - 16th to LCQ) 8:50 pm - 9:00 pm - 250 Semi #2 - 6 laps - 16 riders (1st - 5th to Main) (6th - 16th to LCQ) 9:00 pm - 9:10 pm - Track Maintenance 9:10 pm - 9:20 pm - 250 Last Chance Qualifier 6 Laps-22 riders- 1st & 2nd to Main 9:20 pm - 9:25 pm - 125 Rider's Parade Lap 9:25 pm - 9:45 pm - 125 Main Event - 15 laps - 22 riders 9:50 pm - 9:55 pm - 250 Rider's Parade Lap 9:55 pm - 10:15 pm - 250 Main Event - 20 laps- 20 riders