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Daytona Short Track preview

Carr begins bid for rare three-peat in Progressive Insurance U.S. Flat Track championship opener at Daytona Short Track. PICKERINGTON, Ohio -- Chris Carr heads to Daytona Beach, Fla., this March ready to launch his bid for a third-straight title...

Carr begins bid for rare three-peat in Progressive Insurance U.S. Flat Track championship opener at Daytona Short Track.

PICKERINGTON, Ohio -- Chris Carr heads to Daytona Beach, Fla., this March ready to launch his bid for a third-straight title in the AMA Progressive Insurance U.S. Flat Track Championship. Carr, 35, of Fleetwood, Pa., will ride a stable of motorcycles sponsored by Ford Quality Checked Pre-Owned Vehicles and prepared by longtime mechanic Kenny Tolbert. Carr is chasing a rare feat in AMA racing. Only four riders in the half-century history of the series have won the AMA Grand National Championship three consecutive times. Carroll Resweber was the first back in 1960; 18 years later Jay Springsteen capped off an amazing three-year run; Texan Bubba Shobert tallied three consecutive for Honda in 1987; and finally Scott Parker, the all-time winningest rider in AMA Grand National history, twice accomplished the feat -- in 1990 and again in 1996.

The Daytona Short Track opener on Saturday, March 8, is one of the most unpredictable races in the championship. Over the years the kick-off at Municipal Stadium has earned a reputation as a race that commonly produces surprising winners. Steve Aseltine (1989), Brett Landes (1995) and Richard Winsett Jr. (2002), all earned their only AMA National victories at Daytona. Winsett's win last March in Daytona was called the most surprising upset in a season full of unexpected races.

Carr has won Daytona twice before, but his last victory there came in 1994. He looks at Daytona as a unique race in the series. "I think my chances are as good they have been every year I've been there," Carr said. "You certainly don't want to put yourself in a position during the evening that puts you in a semi or a second-row start. Every round there is critical -- scratch heats are critical to try and win them to guarantee a front-row start for your heat race. You can sometimes finish second in a qualifying race and not make the front row. Every round is equally important and having a good start there is probably the key to success. And success at Daytona to me means either winning or having a strong finish."

Carr and veteran Terry Poovey are the only riders that have a shot this year at winning a third Daytona Short Track title.

A number of riders will be looking to earn their first victory at Daytona. Joe Kopp is chief among those. The 2000 National champ, who now rides as part of a KTM-backed team, has finished on the podium two out of the last three years at Daytona. The 33-year-old Kopp is hoping to finally break through to earn his first win in the Daytona opener.

This year Suzuki joins the fray at Municipal Stadium. Suzuki will work with Dave Burks Motorsports, with additional backing from Corbin, to contest the 2003 season with riders Kevin Varnes, A.J. Eslick and Danny Eslick.

"I think we're going to be in a position where, with the Daytona Short Track coming up in March, we can be competitive," said Varnes, who finished third at Daytona in 2001 and 2002. "I think we can go down to Daytona and pull off a win right away."

This season marks the highest factory participation in the series in years. In addition to the aforementioned KTM and Suzuki squads, there's Harley-Davidson's revered team with Rich King as the lead rider. In a unique arrangement, Honda is backing Moroney's Harley- Davidson's short track and TT effort with factory CRF450-based motorcycles; and the same is true for the Memphis Shades team that will run factory-backed Yamaha YZF450s in short-track and TT events.

In addition to the AMA Grand National on Saturday night, Municipal Stadium will also host an AMA National Hot Shoe Series race on Friday, March 7. Saturday's National is being taped to be shown to a national television audience on Speed Channel later in the month.

Fans can log on to www.1800FlatTrack.com all year to catch live lap-by-lap race reporting from each round of the series, starting in Daytona. 1800FlatTrack.com's coverage from each race also includes daily news and notes, photos and a complete race report and photos after each event.

Progressive Motorcycle Insurance continues as title sponsor of the series for the fourth year. Progressive is also continuing its program where fans of the series can contribute to the year-end bonus fund by calling 1-800-FLAT-TRACK, or logging onto 1800FlatTrack.com, to get a quote on their motorcycle and auto insurance. Each call generates a dollar toward the series-end rider bonus fund. Harley-Davidson also strongly supports the series by helping to fund the television broadcasts.

For immediate post-race results, points, in-depth series and rider information, regular columnists and much more, log onto www.1800FlatTrack.com, the official website of the AMA Progressive Insurance U.S. Flat Track Championship.

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 Chris Carr