PICKERINGTON, Ohio (Aug. 19, 2003) -- Ricky Carmichael is in the drivers seat in his pursuit of a record fourth AMA 250 Motocross title. The 23-year-old of Havana, Fla., expanded his championship lead over rival Kevin Windham to a commanding 63 ...
PICKERINGTON, Ohio (Aug. 19, 2003) -- Ricky Carmichael is in the drivers seat in his pursuit of a record fourth AMA 250 Motocross title. The 23-year-old of Havana, Fla., expanded his championship lead over rival Kevin Windham to a commanding 63 points after winning last week in Millville, Minn. This Sunday, Aug. 24, Carmichael brings his hefty lead into Broome-Tioga Sports Center, near Binghamton, N.Y., for round 10 of the 12-race AMA Chevy Trucks U.S. Motocross Championship. Carmichael, who rides the No. 4 Honda, will try to win a record fourth straight Binghamton 250 race. In the 125 ranks all eyes are on another Floridian, 17-year-old James Stewart. Stewart, the defending 125 champ and Binghamton winner, is fourth in the series standings and is in a mad rush trying to chase down the leaders as the series heads down the homestretch.
Carmichael's 2003 campaign has not been as dominant as his incredible undefeated season last year, but it's been just as effective. The champ has won all but two rounds this season and already has put himself into a strong enough position in the points that he could sit out an entire round and still hold down the top spot. Carmichael's record at Binghamton is impeccable. He's won all three 250 races he's entered at the circuit and he twice won the 125 class there in the late 1990s.
It appears that the only hope for Windham to catch Carmichael is if the champ would have a very bad Sunday at Binghamton. It's highly unlikely that Windham will catch a break from Carmichael though. In his entire career Carmichael has never failed to score points in an AMA Motocross since coming on the scene in 1996.
While Windham's hope for a championship are slim, he does have a good shot at winning Binghamton on his Factory Connection Honda. Carmichael said he wouldn't be chided into a wheel-to-wheel battle with Windham. "The championship is what's important," has been Carmichael's almost constant mantra this season. In addition Windham is eager to make up for an off weekend at Millville where he crashed in the first moto and finished fourth overall. "That was a miserable race," said Windham of Millville. "I'm eager to move on to Binghamton and get back to mistake-free racing." Windham won the Binghamton 250 race in 1999, and like Carmichael, is a former 125 winner at the track as well.
The other former Binghamton 250 winner slated to race Sunday is veteran John Dowd. Dowd won the race in 1994 and again in 1997. He is ranked eighth in the standings and is hoping for another good result on his Cernics KTM this Sunday.
One other rider to watch in the 250 class at Binghamton is Chad Reed. Reed scored his best result since the second round at Millville last week riding a Yamaha YZF450 for the first time. Reed, who led Carmichael briefly in both motos last week, says the bike suits him well and he seems on the brink of winning his first 250 national.
James Stewart needs a little luck to have a shot at winning his second straight title. He missed the first four rounds due to injury, but has come storming back winning all five races he's competed in leading up to Binghamton. The young Kawasaki ace has rocketed up the series standings and has moved all the way to fourth. The problem for Stewart is that there are only three races left and he is 64 points out of the series lead. Stewart valiantly rode last week in Millville despite sustaining a slight concussion in practice. His "major headache" as he described it, did not seem to bother him when the green flag dropped. He won both motos last week in his normal dominating fashion.
Most followers of the sport see Stewart's task of catching Grant Langston, Ryan Hughes and Mike Brown a bit easier than Windham's chore of catching Carmichael.
Langston leads the 125 championship, but has on occasion had bad outings, such as his 11th-place finish in Southwick, Mass., in June. Langston, a South African who rides for Red Bull KTM, has confidence coming into Binghamton. He won the race in 2001 and is eager to make up for the heartbreaking way that season ended, when he lost the title in the final moto of the season.
Ryan Hughes has had even more of a roller coaster year. Langston's teammate led the championship before breaking his leg and being force to sit on the sidelines at the Budds Creek, Md., round. Remarkably Hughes has continued to race while recovering from his broken leg and look very strong in his second-place finish at Millville last week.
Broome-Tioga Sports Center has hosted AMA Motocross since 1980. The rolling, glacial moraine Broome-Tioga track features a slew of elevation changes that will challenge even the most highly-skilled rider. In fact, the "Downhill Triple Jump" that Broome-Tioga's known for is considered one of the hardest obstacles in all the series.
The Binghamton National will be taped and televised on ESPN2. For additional information on the race contact Broome-Tioga Sports Center at (607) 849-4438 or visit www.broome-tioga.com.
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 BROOME-TIOGA SPORTS CENTER, BINGHAMTON, NY -- AUGUST 24, 2003
SATURDAY AUGUST 23, 2003 2:00 PM - 125 Non-Seeded riders practice 2:20 PM - 250 Non-Seeded riders practice 2:40 PM - 125/250 Seeded riders practice 3:00 PM - 125 Non-Seeded riders practice 3:20 PM - 250 Non-Seeded riders practice 3:40 PM - 125/250 Seeded riders practice 4:15 PM -Pre-Qualifiers
SUNDAY AUGUST 24, 2003 9:00 AM - 9:20 AM - 125 National riders practice 9:20 AM - 9:40 AM - 250 National riders practice 9:40 AM - 9:50 AM - Track Maintence 9:50 AM - 10:10 AM - 125 National riders practice 10:10 AM 10:30 AM - 250 National riders practice 10:45 AM to completion - Qualifiers 12:30 PM - Opening Ceremonies 1:00 PM - Moto 1- 125 National- 30 mins, plus 2 laps 2:00 PM - Moto 1- 250 National- 30 mins, plus 2 laps 3:30 PM - Moto 2- 125 National- 30 mins, plus 2 laps 4:10 PM - 125 Victory Circle 4:20 PM - Moto 2- 250 National- 30 mins, plus 2 laps 5:10 PM - Victory Circle