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Las Vegas: Season finale preview

Who is the top dog of AMA 125 Supercross will be settled in Las Vegas. PICKERINGTON, Ohio -- In one corner we have the 125 East Region riders led by Chad Reed, Mike Brown, Branden Jesseman and Buddy Antunez and in the opposite corner we have the...

Who is the top dog of AMA 125 Supercross will be settled in Las Vegas.

PICKERINGTON, Ohio -- In one corner we have the 125 East Region riders led by Chad Reed, Mike Brown, Branden Jesseman and Buddy Antunez and in the opposite corner we have the 125 West stars headed up by Travis Preston, James Stewart, Ivan Tedesco, Christopher Gosselaar and Travis Elliott. On Saturday night, May 4, these riders and a host of others will take to the track built inside Sam Boyd Stadium in Las Vegas to settle who is the top 125 AMA Supercross rider in the annual Dave Coombs Sr. 125 East/West Shootout.

Front and center in this race will be the showdown between Stewart and Reed. Stewart was unquestionably the fastest rider in the West. He led the series with three wins, but his inconsistency cost him the title. Equally acknowledged as the best of the East is Australian Reed. Reed won all but one race in his domination of the East series. The first meeting of these two young up-and-comers makes this year's East/West Shootout one of the most highly-anticipated races in recent memory.

While the focus will definitely be the 125 East/West Shootout this weekend, the final round of the 2002 AMA EA Sports Supercross Series will take place as well. Since Honda's Ricky Carmichael wrapped up the series title last week in Salt Lake City, the spotlight will turn to seven-time AMA Supercross Champion Jeremy McGrath. All eyes in Vegas and the pay-per-view television audience will be on McGrath and his Bud Light Yamaha. MC has yet to win a race this season, but has looked progressively stronger each race. If McGrath does not find a way to win in Las Vegas it will mark the first year that McGrath has not won an AMA Supercross race since he entered the series full-time in 1993. Since his first win at Anaheim, Calif., on Jan. 23, 1993, McGrath has gone on to become the all-time winningest rider in the sport with 72-career victories.

"I've being riding a lot better lately," said McGrath, a four-time Las Vegas winner. "I'd like to be able to go out and win the final race of the season. The fans have been great this year backing me as much as ever even though I haven't won yet. I think if I could end the season with a win in Las Vegas it would rank right up there as one of my most important, if not the most important, victory in my career."

Carmichael sewed up the championship with his 10th win of the season last week in Salt Lake City. RC is the defending winner at Las Vegas and would love to close out the season with his 11th win.

"Las Vegas will be nice for me since I don't have the pressure of the championship on me anymore," Carmichael said. "I can just go out there and enjoy the race. I know a lot of people would like to end the season with a win, including me. It should be a good one."

Saturday night in Las Vegas will be one of the few times that the 125 race takes center stage. This year the event could easily be renamed the Reed/Stewart Showdown. This race has been one supercross fans have been waiting for since the season began. Internet polls on who will win the race are getting massive responses.

Who has the advantage going into Las Vegas? It's hard to say. Reed, who turned 20 in March, has more professional racing experience. He was runner-up in the FIM 250 World Championship last year. Reed seems more consistent-- he rarely crashes. On the plus side for Stewart is the fact that the 16-year-old Florida native has raced on the harder-packed dirt of the West much more than Reed has this year. And at times he's been as fast as the best 250 class riders on his 125cc Kawasaki. The West Coast and East Coast riders have equally shared in victory in the Shootout over the years, so it truly is a tossup. Of course there are a host of other riders who could almost make a career out of beating both Reed and Stewart on Saturday night, so the stakes will be high.

The East/West Shootout is named in the memory of Dave Coombs Sr. Coombs was a pioneering motocross and off-road racing promoter who was instrumental in the growth of the sport in the 1980s and '90s. Coombs died in 1998, but his family continues to carry on the tradition of nurturing and helping to further build on the popularity of off-road motorcycling.

Both the 250 and 125 races in Las Vegas can be watched live on pay-per-view. If you can't make one of the biggest races on the AMA calendar in person, then it's highly recommended that you call your local cable provider to be able to catch all the action live on TV.

<pre> AMA/EA Sports Supercross Series Schedule of Events

SATURDAY APRIL 27, 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) East Region 7:40 p.m. - 7:50 p.m. 125cc Heat #2 - 6 laps - 20 riders (1st - 9th to Main) West Region 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) East & West 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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Series AMA
Drivers Ricky Carmichael , Jeremy McGrath , Chad Reed , Branden Jesseman , Mike Brown , Buddy Antunez , James Stewart