AMA

Atlanta: Event preview

Carmichael and Lusk ready for homecoming in Atlanta supercross. PICKERINGTON, Ohio -- Ricky Carmichael and Ezra Lusk will feel right at home this Saturday, Feb. 22, when the AMA Supercross Series visits Atlanta's Georgia Dome. Lusk hails from ...

Carmichael and Lusk ready for homecoming in Atlanta supercross.

PICKERINGTON, Ohio -- Ricky Carmichael and Ezra Lusk will feel right at home this Saturday, Feb. 22, when the AMA Supercross Series visits Atlanta's Georgia Dome. Lusk hails from nearby Bainbridge, Ga., and Carmichael, who lives just across the state border in Havana, Fla., owns 100 acres in Southern Georgia, where he has his practice tracks. Carmichael and Lusk are coming off a 1-2 finish last weekend in Minneapolis. Carmichael, the two-time defending champ, leads the series, while Lusk stands fourth coming into this weekend's eighth round of the 16-race championship.

Carmichael got off to a shaky early start in his title defense, but has come on strong to win four out of the last five rounds on his factory Honda to take a 14-point lead over Australian Chad Reed of Yamaha. The Carmichael/Reed rivalry is shaping up to be one of the best in years. Reed, who has won two races this season, passed and led Carmichael last week in Minneapolis before crashing and finishing sixth. There is no love loss between the leading duo. Reed has made a number of statements that some insiders say are designed to "get into Carmichael's head." For his part, Carmichael has implied that Reed may be riding a little over his head to keep pace, remarking last week on Reed's pass on him, "He (Reed) was just too much on the edge. I figured if he could hold that pace he deserved to win. Chad is a good rider but that is not my main concern. My main concern is the track. The races that I didn't win are the races that I fell on. That is the thing that beat me."

Carmichael, the winningest active rider in the series, has won the last two years in the Georgia Dome. Reed won the 125 East Region Series race there last year.

Lusk has some momentum coming into his home race. The 12th-year veteran, who rides for Team Chevy Trucks Kawasaki, won his first AMA Supercross race in nearly four years last month in Phoenix. He is excited about coming home to race in Georgia. "I always have a lot of support from friends there," said Lusk, whose best finish in the Atlanta Supercross was third in 2001. "I still feel I'm in the hunt for the championship. I need to get on a roll and it would great to get a win in front of the hometown fans."

Mike LaRocco, who won the Atlanta Supercross in 1995, will attempt to race Saturday, but is still battling a sore shoulder that forced him to sit out the last two rounds.

Atlanta will also be round two of the AMA 125 East Region Supercross Series. Suzuki's Branden Jesseman leads that series after winning the opening round last weekend in Minnesota. Jesseman's win is the one bright spot for a Suzuki team that has been racked by injury. Jesseman himself raced last week for the first time since September after coming back from knee surgery, so he was thrilled to do so well in his return. "It was a huge relief to get the first race over with," said Jesseman, who hails from Fombell, Pennsylvania. "I was so excited to go racing again. I just had a basic ACL reconstruction and meniscus repair, and a lot of therapy. It's not very fun but it's all worth it."

Yamaha of Troy's Brock Sellards and Factory Connection Honda's Michael Byrne are second and third, respectively, in the early 125 East point standings.

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> AMA SUPERCROSS SERIES SCHEDULE OF EVENTS
Georgia Dome- Atlanta, GA

FRIDAY FEBRUARY 21,  2003
1:00 pm - 1:10 pm       -        250 Privateer Riders, Practice Group A
1:13 pm - 1:23 pm       -        250 Privateer Riders, Practice Group B
1:26 pm - 1:41 pm       -        250 Factory Riders Practice
1:44 pm - 1:59 pm       -        125 Factory Riders Practice
2:02 pm - 2:12 pm       -        125 Privateer Riders, Practice Group A
2:15 pm - 2:25 pm       -        125 Privateer Riders, Practice Group B
2:28 pm - 2:38 pm       -        Break
2:40 pm - 2:50 pm       -        250 Privateer Riders, Practice Group A
2:53 pm - 3:03 pm       -        250 Privateer Riders, Practice Group B
3:06 pm - 3:21 pm       -        250 Factory Riders Practice
3:25 pm - 3:40 pm       -        125 Factory Riders Practice
3:43 pm - 3:53 pm       -        125 Privateer Riders, Practice Group A
3:56 pm - 4:06pm        -        125 Privateer Riders, Practice Group B

* if less than 40 Riders, Group A & B will be combined

SATURDAY FEBRUARY 22 , 2003 12:30 pm - 1:15 pm - 125 Practice 1:30 pm - 2:15 pm - 250 Practice 2:15 pm - 2:45 pm - Track Maintenance 2:45 pm - 3:00 pm - KTM Practice 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 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 - Junior Supercross Exhibition- 3 laps - 15 riders 8:25 pm - 8:35 pm - Track Maintenance (10 minutes) 8:35 pm - 8:40 pm - 125 Last Chance Qualifier - 4 laps - 22 riders (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 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

About AMA Pro Racing
AMA Pro Racing is the leading sanctioning body for motorcycle sport in the United States. Its properties include the AMA Supercross Championship, the AMA Chevy Trucks U.S. Motocross Championship, the AMA Chevy Trucks U.S. Superbike Championship and the AMA Progressive Insurance U.S. Flat Track Championship. Nearly 2 million race fans attended AMA Pro Racing events during the 2002 season. For more information about AMA Pro Racing, visit www.amaproracing.com.

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Series AMA
Drivers Ricky Carmichael , Ezra Lusk , Chad Reed , Branden Jesseman , Mike LaRocco