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Minneapolis: Metrodome event preview

Three Former Winners To Battle At Minneapolis Supercross PICKERINGTON, Ohio -- AMA EA Sports Supercross has been classified by two distinct periods in recent years. There was the era of Jeremy McGrath's domination that began in 1993 and went ...

Three Former Winners To Battle At Minneapolis Supercross

PICKERINGTON, Ohio -- AMA EA Sports Supercross has been classified by two distinct periods in recent years. There was the era of Jeremy McGrath's domination that began in 1993 and went through to 2000, and then came Ricky Carmichael's incredible run in 2001, in which he won 14 of the 16 races en route to winning the championship. So far the 2002 series has witnessed three winners in six rounds, and while Yamaha star David Vuillemin leads the way, with three wins and an 18-point lead, every indication is that this year's series will be one of the most competitive in years. This Saturday, Feb. 16, the series moves to the Hubert H. Humphrey Metrodome in Minneapolis for round seven. Former winners Vuillemin, McGrath and Carmichael will line up along with a host of other top competitors trying to win before an enthusiastic Minnesota crowd.

McGrath is the all-time winningest rider in the history of AMA Supercross with 72-career victories. Six of those wins came at the Metrodome -- he won every race in the stadium from 1994 to 1999. McGrath's 2002 campaign has so far been the worst of his career. His best results are a pair of sixth-place finishes on his Bud Light-sponsored Yamaha and he comes in the Minneapolis round ranked eighth. But there are signs that McGrath could be ready to break out of his slump. Last week in Indianapolis he won a qualifying heat race and ran with the lead pack until crashing just past the halfway point of the main event. After Indy McGrath said that he felt like a win was coming. The Metrodome has traditionally been one of his favorite venues so the McGrath faithful will be hoping to see the legend return to the top of the podium this weekend.

Vuillemin proved last weekend in Indianapolis that he is one of the craftiest racers on the circuit. He hung back in the Indy race until the final lap, when he made a decisive move past Carmichael and pulled away to a three-second victory. It was an important win for the 24-year-old Frenchman - it stopped Carmichael's winning streak at two and showed that Vuillemin is not content just to sit back and play it conservatively in his quest to win his first AMA Supercross title.

Carmichael, despite being beaten by Vuillemin last week, seems to be back on form after a hard crash in the series opener that resulted in a cracked bone in his left hand. While Carmichael lost ground on Vuillemin last week, he gained on second-place Mike LaRocco and now is only 10 points out of second place. It will be interesting to see how the Metrodome crowd responds to RC this weekend. Last week he was loudly booed by Indy fans on the podium as a result of an incident in the race in which Travis Pastrana, who was leading at the time, went down after slight contact with Carmichael.

Several riders are looking to break through to become only the fourth rider to win in the Metrodome. Travis Pastrana has led main events a couple of times this year and looks poised to break through to his first win. LaRocco is a rider who has come close many times at Minneapolis, having finished on the podium in each of the last three years, including being runner-up to Vuillemin two years ago. Stephane Roncada might be another rider to watch for this weekend. The 22-year-old Kawasaki rider from France has been riding well of late. He won the 125 race at Minneapolis in 1998.

The second round of the AMA 125 East Supercross Series will be held Saturday night as well. Australian rookie sensation Chad Reed won the series opener last weekend in Indy on his Yamaha of Troy YZ250F and appears to be the rider to beat. Grant Langston, a pre-season favorite, will be looking to comeback after crashing and scoring no championships points in round one. Kawasaki's Mike Brown led much of the 125 race last week before finishing second, and will be looking for a way to hold off Reed in Minnesota. Buddy Antunez looked strong in his return to AMA Supercross after winning multiple titles in arenacross. Antunez, who has made a career out of being consistent, took his factory Suzuki to third in the opening race.

Area fans will be cheering on James Povolny, Jr., from nearby Mendota Heights, Minn. Povolny, who rides for Nielsen Enterprises Honda, is ranked 24th in the 250 Supercross standings coming into this Saturday's race.

AMA Pro Racing is the leading sanctioning body for professional motorcycle sport in the United States. For more information about AMA Pro Racing, visit www.amaproracing.com.

<pre> SCHEDULE OF EVENTS Metrodome, Minneapolis, MN

SATURDAY FEBRUARY 16, 2002 9:00 a.m. - 11:30 a.m. Rider registration and Tech Inspection at the Venue 9:00 a.m. - 12:00 noon Bonus Awards Participant/Mechanic registration at the Venue 11:00 a.m. - 12:00 noon Rider Track Walk 11:00 a.m. - 12:00 noon Junior Supercross Riders Meeting (Mandatory) 12:00 noon - 12:15 p.m. Riders Meeting (Mandatory) 12:15 p.m. - 12:30 p.m. Junior Supercross Practice 12:30 p.m. - 1:15 p.m. 125cc Practice 1:30 p.m. - 2:15 p.m. 250cc Practice 2:15 p.m. - 2:45 p.m. Track Maintenance 2:45 p.m. - 3:15 p.m. 125cc Practice 3:15 p.m. - 3:45 p.m. 250cc Practice 3:45 p.m. - 5:30 p.m. Qualifying Heats 5:30 p.m. - 5:45 p.m. Junior Supercross Practice 5:45 p.m. - 6:45 p.m. Track Maintenance 7:00 p.m. - 7:20 p.m. Opening Ceremonies 7:30 p.m. - 7:40 p.m. 125cc Heat #1 - 6 laps - 20 riders (1st - 9th to Main) 7:40 p.m. - 7:50 p.m. 125cc Heat #2 - 6 laps - 20 riders (1st - 9th to Main) 7:50 p.m. - 8:00 p.m. 250cc Heat #1 - 8 laps - 20 riders (1st - 4th to Main) (5th - 20th to Semi 1) 8:00 p.m. - 8:10 p.m. 250cc Heat #2 - 8 laps - 20 riders (1st - 4th to Main) (5th - 20th to Semi 2) 8:10 p.m. - 8:25 p.m. Junior Supercross Exhibition- 3 laps - 15 riders 8:25 p.m. - 8:35 p.m. Track Maintenance (10 minutes) 8:35 p.m. - 8:40 p.m. 125cc Last Chance Qualifier - 4 laps - 22 riders (1st - 4th to Main) 8:40 p.m. - 8:50 p.m. 250cc Semi #1 - 6 laps - 16 riders (1st - 5th to Main) (6th - 16th to LCQ) 8:50 p.m. - 9:00 p.m. 250cc Semi #2 - 6 laps - 16 riders (1st - 5th to Main) (6th - 16th to LCQ) 9:00 p.m. - 9:10 p.m. Track Maintenance/ EA Sports Challenge Main 9:10 p.m. - 9:20 p.m. 250cc Last Chance Qualifier - 6 laps - 22 riders- (1st & 2nd to main) 9:20 p.m. - 9:25 p.m. 125cc Rider's Parade Lap 9:25 p.m. - 9:45 p.m. 125cc Main Event - 15 laps - 22 riders 9:50 p.m. - 9:55 p.m. 250cc Rider's Parade Lap 9:55 p.m. - 10:15 p.m. 250cc Main Event - 20 laps- 20 riders

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Series AMA
Drivers Ricky Carmichael , Travis Pastrana , Jeremy McGrath , Chad Reed , Stephane Roncada , Mike Brown , Buddy Antunez , Mike LaRocco