AMA

Motocross 338: Round four preview

Carmichael brings his perfect record to Southwick. PICKERINGTON, Ohio-- Ricky Carmichael rolls into round four of the AMA Chevy Trucks U.S. Motocross Championship in Southwick, Mass., on June 9, with serious momentum on his side. The Honda...

Carmichael brings his perfect record to Southwick.

PICKERINGTON, Ohio-- Ricky Carmichael rolls into round four of the AMA Chevy Trucks U.S. Motocross Championship in Southwick, Mass., on June 9, with serious momentum on his side. The Honda factory rider from Havana, Fla., dominated the second-half of the AMA EA Sports Supercross Series en route to the championship and he carried his winning ways straight into the motocross season, which began a little less than a month ago in San Bernardino, Calif.

While the season is still young, Carmichael has definitely set the tone in the 250 class with six-straight moto wins and three overall victories. It was at Southwick last year that Carmichael started on a roll that saw him win seven of the remaining nine rounds, which earned him his second AMA 250 Motocross title. The same thing happened in 2000, only then it was eight wins in nine races. Southwick has always been the start of good things for Carmichael. Any hope that Carmichael's competition had of getting an early points lead on him in the west coast rounds has been dashed and now they have to deal with him in what traditionally is his strongest part of the schedule.

"I love racing in the sand at Southwick," said Carmichael, who will try to become only the third rider in history to open the 250 motocross season with four overall wins. "The track always gets really rutted up so it tests your skills for sure. I've done well there in the past and hope I can take another win this year."

Southwick's Motocross 338 circuit is the sandiest on the AMA tour, so it plays right into Carmichael's riding style, which was honed on the sandy courses of Florida and Southern Georgia. Counting the 125 class, Carmichael has won four of five races at the track since he first raced there in 1997. Only local hero John Dowd was able to break Carmichael's string back in 1998 in the 125 class.

Dowd, from nearby Chicopee, Mass., is a 15-year veteran of the series who has earned a top-ten AMA ranking every year over the last 10 seasons. Now 36, Dowd is one of the oldest riders on the circuit, but still shows the ability to run up front. He's led portions of races this year and comes into Sunday's race ranked a solid sixth in the 250 standings. Dowd, who finished second to Carmichael at Southwick last year, is riding a Cernics.com-sponsored KTM 520 in the series this year and could be a threat to win this weekend.

Frenchman Sebastien Tortelli is comes into Southwick ranked second behind Carmichael. Tortelli won a 250 moto at Southwick two years ago and was runner-up in the overall to Carmichael and will be eager to try and break his Honda teammate's winning streak. Tim Ferry, of Yamaha, also grew up racing on sand circuits in Florida and is looking to move up from third in the rankings this Sunday.

Mike LaRocco, winner of the 250 class at Southwick in 1994, is expected to return to competition this week after badly break his wrist four months ago. Ezra Lusk is another former winner of the event. Lusk, who rides for Kawasaki, is fifth in the series standings.

There is a lot of excitement in the 125 class this year due to the addition of Aussie Chad Reed and rookie sensation James Stewart. Reed, who was the runner up in the FIM 250 World Championships last year, leads the 125 class after winning on Memorial weekend in Mount Morris, Pa. Stewart, winner of the first two 125 rounds and the first true rookie to ever accomplish that feat, is ranked second. Stewart twisted his right knee during practice at Mt. Morris, but is expected to be healthy for Southwick. It should be a great showdown between Reed and Stewart and adds a great deal of anticipation for the Southwick race.

Larry Ward is the only former Southwick 125 winner in the field. Ward, who won there in 1989 and 1992, comes into this race ranked 16th in the 125 class.

For additional information contact Motocross 338 at (413) 786-3221 or visit www.moto338.com.

For immediate post-race results, points, live transponder scoring, in-depth series and rider information, regular columnists and much more, log onto USMotocross.com, the official website of the AMA Chevy Trucks U.S. Motocross Championship.

DIRECTIONS TO TRACK I-91 North and South, take exit 3 to 57 West, 10 miles to track. I-90 East and West take exit 3 Westfield, follow 202 south 10 miles to track.

<pre> SCHEDULE OF EVENTS MOTOCROSS 338, SOUTHWICK, MA JUNE 9, 2002

SATURDAY, JUNE 8, 2002 2:30 PM 125 Non-Seeded riders practice 2:50 PM 250 Non-Seeded riders practice 3:10 PM 125/250 Seeded riders practice 3:30 PM 125 Non-Seeded riders practice 3:50 PM 250 Non-Seeded riders practice 4:10 PM 125/250 Seeded riders practice 4:45 PM Pre-Qualifiers

SUNDAY, JUNE 9, 2002 9:00 AM - 9:20 AM 125 National riders practice 9:20 AM - 9:40 AM 250 National riders practice 9:45 AM - 10:00 AM 125 National riders practice 10:00 AM - 10:15 AM 250 National riders practice 10:30 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 4:20 PM Moto 2- 250 National- 30 mins, plus 2 laps 5:30 PM Victory Circle

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Series AMA
Drivers Ricky Carmichael , Ezra Lusk , Sebastien Tortelli , Chad Reed , James Stewart , Mike LaRocco