PICKERINGTON, Ohio -- The AMA Chevy Trucks U.S. Motocross Championship hits the halfway mark this weekend, June 30 - July 1, when the series comes to Red Bud Track 'N Trail in Buchanan, Mich. The race for the 250 motocross championship is among...
PICKERINGTON, Ohio -- The AMA Chevy Trucks U.S. Motocross Championship hits the halfway mark this weekend, June 30 - July 1, when the series comes to Red Bud Track 'N Trail in Buchanan, Mich. The race for the 250 motocross championship is among the most competitive in the history of the series. Five riders have separated themselves from the field in the championship race. Those five will attempt to gain an advantage on the others and the rest of the field will try to bridge the gap of the breakaway quintet.
The Red Bud event is round six of the 12-race series. Ricky Carmichael, the 21-year-old factory Kawasaki rider from Havana, Fla., is leading the series in defense of his 2000 AMA Chevy Trucks U.S. Championship. But Carmichael has faced tough competition this year from four other riders: Kevin Windham (Team Suzuki), Sebastien Tortelli (Team Honda), Team Ferry (Team Yamaha) and Mike LaRocco (Amsoil Honda). All four are within a single moto victory of the championship lead.
Frenchman Tortelli, could be the rider to watch this weekend in Michigan. The two-time world motocross champion won last year's Red Bud Championship round with a resounding (1-1) moto finishes. Another victory would likely move him from third to second in the standings ahead of Suzuki factory rider Kevin Windham.
Windham has yet to earn an overall victory in the series this year, but has strung together a string of top finishes and finds himself second in the series only 13-points down to Carmichael. Windham won Red Bud two years ago and also was victorious in the 125 class there in 1997. If Windham wins, he would be the fifth winner in six races.
Tim Ferry is a close fourth coming into Sunday's race. He is the one rider among the top five that is riding a four-stroke (Yamaha's YZ426F). If track conditions are right, the big thumper is hard to beat. Ferry is looking for his second win of the season. Mike LaRocco is a perennial local favorite at Red Bud. The Hoosier native grew up racing on Southern Michigan motocross tracks including Red Bud, but he's yet to win championship event at his home track. At 30, LaRocco is one of the veterans of the circuit, but he seems to be getting stronger with age. Look for LaRocco to be the fan favorite this weekend. But for any of these top riders to stand atop the podium they will likely have to go through Carmichael. After a somewhat sub par season start for the four-time AMA Motocross champ, Carmichael has managed to get back to his familiar winning ways taking victories in the last two rounds. Carmichael is known to go on long winning streaks and he hopes to make Red Bud his third in a row. It would mark his first victory in the 250 class at Red Bud. He won the 125 class in 1998 and '99.
"I'm feeling good," said Carmichael. "I'm riding the best I have all year right now and I'm farther ahead of everyone this year than I was last year at this point in the series. I'm going to try to go 1-1 at Red Bud."
Carmichael should be feeling good, as he is on the brink of surpassing yet another of the all-time greatest motocrossers. Bob "Hurricane" Hannah logged 37 combined motocross wins during his professional AMA career. Carmichael has logged 36 combined wins to date and should surpass Hannah before the season ends.
This year's 125 series is starting to go in favor of defending champion Travis Pastrana. Early this season the 17-year-old Suzuki star faced a tough challenge from 125 world motocross champ Grant Langston of South Africa. But Langston suffered a separated shoulder and was forced to sit out the last round in Maryland. According to KTM Team Manager, Selvaraj Narayana, Langston has been enduring extensive therapy and is expected to try to race this weekend, but he certainly won't be at full strength. Michael Brown, of Pro Circuit Kawasaki, is coming off a 125 win two weeks ago in Maryland. Brown, a native of Tennessee who won the British 125 Motocross championship last year, looks like he's ready to step up to challenge Pastrana. Second in the standings, Brown has a substantial 36-point deficit to make up on Pastrana.
For race and ticket information, log on to www.redbudmx.com or call (616) 695-6405.