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Houston: Round 15 preview

CARMICHAEL COULD CLINCH THQ AMA SUPERCROSS TITLE IN HOUSTON Podium finish all that's needed for a fourth championship PICKERINGTON, Ohio (April 25, 2005) -- The 2005 season couldn't have gone much better for Ricky Carmichael. The 25-year-old ...

CARMICHAEL COULD CLINCH THQ AMA SUPERCROSS TITLE IN HOUSTON
Podium finish all that's needed for a fourth championship

PICKERINGTON, Ohio (April 25, 2005) -- The 2005 season couldn't have gone much better for Ricky Carmichael. The 25-year-old Floridian had a phenomenal return to the THQ AMA Supercross Series after missing the entire 2004 season and switching from Honda to Suzuki. After blasting off to the best start of his career Carmichael looks to grab his fourth AMA Supercross championship Saturday night, April 30, in Houston's Reliant Stadium.

If Carmichael rides his Suzuki to a third-place or better finish in the Houston Supercross he will take home yet another AMA championship. In spite of not having won a race in nearly two months Carmichael, the all-time winningest rider in AMA racing history, has yet to finish off the podium all season, so it would be a major upset if he's not able to clinch the championship this weekend.

Defending series champ Chad Reed is the only rider with a mathematical chance to win the title besides Carmichael, but the likable Aussie rider saw his slim hopes become even more remote after a first turn crash on his factory Yamaha at the last round in Seattle. He got up and charged all the way back to fourth, but finishing behind Carmichael was something he could not afford to do at this point in the season.

Houston marks the next-to-last round in the 16-race series, which concludes in Las Vegas' Sam Boyd Stadium on May 7. Houston is one of the oldest AMA Supercross venues in the series. The races first came to the Astrodome in 1974.

Carmichael's last win came in early March in St. Louis. Since that time he's suffered some hard crashes at his home practice track. One required a trip to the hospital. Even though Carmichael is not one to make excuses, the practice accidents seem to have taken a toll on the hard-charging rider.

"It's been a rough couple of weeks," admitted Carmichael, who won the Houston Supercross in 2001 and 2002. "Since Daytona I've been in a rut and I'm sick at myself. I had such a great start to the season and built a big lead. Now I haven't won a race in awhile and it's frustrating. This same thing happened to me a couple of years ago and I told myself if I were in a position to win a championship I wouldn't do that again. Now I'm doing the same thing I did in '03. All I can do is work on it and try to finish strong."

Reed was the fastest rider on the track after his early crash in Seattle. While the championship is almost out of reach he'll still work hard to win at Houston. If he manages to earn the victory it would mark his third straight Houston Supercross victory and be the first time that a three-peat has been pulled off in Houston since Jeremy McGrath did it in 1996.

Kawasaki's young ace James Stewart is the hottest rider in the series coming into Houston having won two of the last three rounds. Stewart is showing the speed in the 250 class that made him the all-time winningest rider in 125 racing history. He won the 125 race in Houston last year.

Honda's Kevin Windham and Mike LaRocco can never be counted out. Both are past 125 winners in Houston and each would love to earn their first Houston victory in the premier class this weekend.

Houston will also feature the final round of the AMA 125 West Supercross Series. Ivan Tedesco wrapped up his second straight 125 West championship in Seattle on his Monster Energy Drink/Pro Circuit Kawasaki so Houston is all about bragging rights. "I'm glad to win this championship for my team," said Tedesco, whose home was recently featured in an episode of MTV's Cribs. "Now I can go to Houston and really give it my all to go for another win."

Tedesco's main rival Nathan Ramsey hopes to give KTM its first victory in Houston's 125 race. Ramsey won the event in 1999 and could become only the second rider to win two Houston 125 races. Kevin Windham pulled off the feat with back-to-back Houston 125 victories in 1996 and 1997.

Tickets for the Houston Supercross are available at the Box Office, all Ticketmaster outlets, all participating Yamaha dealers (tickets also available at Yamaha outlets), or charge by phone at 713-629-3700. Also featured at Houston is a Family Section. When ordering tickets through Ticketmaster, request Family Section for an alcohol-free family atmosphere.

The Houston races will be nationally televised on ESPN2 on Sunday, May 1, starting at 5:00 p.m. EST. Check your local listings for additional information

About AMA Pro Racing
AMA Pro Racing is the leading sanctioning body for motorcycle sport in the United States. Its properties include the THQ AMA Supercross Series, the AMA Motocross Championship, the AMA Superbike Championship, the AMA Ford Quality Checked Flat Track Championship and the AMA Supermoto Championship. For more information about AMA Pro Racing, visit www.amaproracing.com. Accredited media outlets can also access AMA Pro Racing's online Press Room at www.amaproracing.com/pressroom.

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Series AMA
Drivers Ricky Carmichael , Kevin Windham , Jeremy McGrath , Chad Reed , James Stewart , Mike LaRocco