Art Eckman's Column: Bar to Bar (Atlanta) The improbable has happened. A legitimate late season rivalry has given us the possibility of the 250 supercross title chase going down to the final race of the season. Heading to Salt Lake City for...
Art Eckman's Column:
Bar to Bar
(Atlanta) The improbable has happened. A legitimate late season rivalry has given us the possibility of the 250 supercross title chase going down to the final race of the season. Heading to Salt Lake City for the penultimate round of the 2003 season, we could see the near-impossible take place.
Chad Reed's incredible four wins in the last four races, has taken Ricky Carmichael's 25-point lead (the equivalent of one win) down to 13 with two races in the remaining season.
Since 1990, (13 seasons) we have seen the 250 point's battle come down to the final race only twice -- 1992 and 1997. Jeremy McGrath even secured the championship with THREE races left in the 1996 season.
The year Jeff Emig interrupted McGrath's string of championships in '97; he only needed a ninth place finish in the final if Jeremy won the race. Things got interesting when Doug Henry became the first rider ever to win a 250 class race on a four stroke and Emig came across the finish line in fifth. Jeremy pushed his Suzuki past the checkers in seventh to lose the title by 15 points.
The percentages this year are certainly with "RC" to win his third consecutive supercross championship. However, Damon Bradshaw had won a record nine races in 1992 and went into the final round at the Los Angeles Coliseum needing only a third place to close the season with the number one plate. Jeff Stanton did his part winning his third race of the year, but the near impossible happened to Bradshaw. He finished fifth.
What makes the near impossible so unlikely now is the way both Reed and Carmichael are riding. Reed has proven he can beat Ricky in a 20 lap bar to bar battle, but during all of Reed's six victories the defending champion has done what it takes to make the podium every time. While Reed has won the last four races, Ricky has refused to lose big taking second place finishes.
Let's tease our minds with some unlikely nightmares in Salt Lake City.
#1 - If Carmichael wins Reed needs at least a seventh to send the championship to the final round. An eighth and the AMA will be awarding a number one plate to the red head from Florida at the University of Utah stadium.
#2 - If Reed wins and bad luck strikes Carmichael like a lightening bolt finish and he places tenth or worse, Reed goes into Vegas (the final round) with a one-point lead. Wow, we might even have to cancel the Cesar's Palace wedding chapel for Friday night if that ever happened.
With the 250's usually sewed up prior to the season finale we have relied on the 125 West going into the final race of their regular season to provide us with a championship ceremony. But, we've got a real role reversal this time around.
This is the first season since the 125 East/West Dave Coombs Memorial shootout format has been in effect that the title hasn't gone down to the last race for the 125 West region.
James Stewart with lap times two weeks ago in Dallas that could rival Reed and Carmichael's made sure he wouldn't have to go through what Kevin Windham, John Dowd, Nathan Ramsey, Shae Bently, Ernesto Fonseca and Travis Preston had to go through over the last seven years - having it come down to one last race to fulfill their dream.
Once in seven years. Twice in 13 seasons. What are the odds in Las Vegas on that happening?