AMA

San Diego: Round two preview

EA SPORTS Supercross, Round 2, Qualcomm Stadium, San Diego, Calif. Forecasters Surprised: The pre-season hype that revolved around the 2002 season of EA SPORTS Supercross was all for naught. Critics were silenced. The opinions of the experts...

EA SPORTS Supercross, Round 2, Qualcomm Stadium, San Diego, Calif.

Forecasters Surprised: The pre-season hype that revolved around the 2002 season of EA SPORTS Supercross was all for naught. Critics were silenced. The opinions of the experts were tamed and David Vuillemin came out smellin' like a rose. The best thing is: there are 16 races in the series. The opening round may have not lived up to its expectations, but San Diego is going to be epic ... no doubt

Burnin' Up: Dr. Maretns/Amsoil/Factory Connection/Honda-backed Michael Byrne, who is from Australia and a sophomore to American supercross, earned his first career PowerAde holeshot award in EA SPORTS Supercross. Moreover, his fourth-place finish in Anaheim last weekend was his best ever in America.

Preston Magic: Travis Preston, for all intents and purposes, has been at the right place at the right time ... twice. The Hesperia, Calif., native won his second 125cc Western Regional Supercross race when Chris Gosselaar and Rodrig Thain collided on the last lap, leaving the door open for Preston to go by for the victory. In Houston last year, Preston was handed his first victory when KTM's Grant Langston crashed on the last lap of what would have been his first-ever victory.

Cut-Up Carmichael: Team Honda's Ricky Carmichael, the series' reigning champion, went down hard last weekend on lap five before the 'whoop' section and subsequently had his legs run over by Mike LaRocco. The crash forced him to DNF (did not finish), setting him back 25 points in the season point standings. Honda officials said Carmichael spent Saturday night in the hospital but was later released and is expected to race this weekend. Carmichael was taken to UCI Medical Center after the race and voluntarily stayed the night. He was given a CT scan, which came back clear. Dr. John Bodnar went to the hospital with Carmichael as well as a host of other close friends and family, including Scott Taylor, Johnny O'Mara, and Alton Baker to name a few. "There were so many people at the hospital with him that they had to put us in a separate room," said Taylor. Because the ambulance was full, Carmichael's parents, his trainer and a few others drove Plano Honda's Mule to the hospital, and on the way back they were pulled over by police. Needless to say, they were not issued a ticket.

Reed Runner: Chad Reed, the 17-year old rookie from Australia, made his début to American supercross last weekend, finishing an impressive sixth place and even ran as high as second place on the sixth and seventh lap. In fact, Reed isn't even a 250cc rider; he is using the west coast rounds as a warm up for the 125cc Eastern Regional Supercross championships that begin in February at Indianapolis' RCA Dome.

Down But Not Out: Team Suzuki's Travis Pastrana, 18, is in his first full season of 250cc competition, and last weekend couldn't have been worse for the Annapolis, Maryland native. Late in the race a busted wheel forced him to call it a night. The reigning 125cc Eastern Regional Supercross champion will be back this weekend aiming for his first 250cc victory.

Transfiguration: As the riders hit the track last weekend for Friday's practice session, most of them stated that it was an easy one. When the gate dropped for the night program Saturday night, opinions changed. "The track was easy after the first practice, but on Saturday the whoops became more difficult, the ruts were deeper and the dirt was slippery," said third place finisher Mike LaRocco. The whoops transformed themselves into a minefield. Carmichael, Stewart, Gosselaar, Thain, and others went down in this difficult section.

Next: If James Stewart's début performance was any indication of what his professional career is going to be like, he better make some room on his hands for supercross rings. The Team Chevy Trucks Kawasaki rider finished second and was within inches of taking the win at the Anaheim opener before he crashed. According to According to Scott Taylor, a close friend of Stewart, he earned a year's worth of experience in one night of professional supercross racing. The road to the main event was a tough one for the 16-year-old Floridian. A crash in his heat forced him to race in the last chance qualifier, which he won, nailing down the fastest 125cc lap of the evening at 0:55 sec. "When he came back to the truck after his heat, he kept all of his gear on and anxiously waited for his next race," said Taylor. "A lot of people are saying he rode like Ricky (Carmichael) did in his first race - a little out of control, but James knows he needs to tame it down a little. Before his last chance qualifier, Carmichael came up to him, patted him on his back and told him to settle down."

Sunday Afternoon Quarterback: The day after his first professional supercross race, James 'Bubba' Stewart and Ken Griffey Jr. hung out , watched football, and discussed his first race.

Lusk Salvages Points: Team Chevy Trucks Kawasaki's Ezra Lusk was one of the fortunate ones to salvage some points with a fifth-place finish: "I'm happy with my results and that I was able to gain some good points out there tonight," said Lusk from the team transporter after the race. "I overcame some first race jitters and settled into the main event after a few laps."

Team Chevy Trucks Kawasaki Notes

While most consider him to be an "outdoor" specialist, Team Pro Circuit/Kawasaki/Chevy during his career, including three 125 supercross wins (1994, Pontiac; '95, Charlotte and Cleveland). Brown also finished second in the 125 East Regional Supercross standings in 1995.

Team Pro Circuit/Kawasaki/Chevy Trucks' Shae Bentley flew home (Ellenwood, Ga.) on Tuesday to prepare for the 125 Eastern Regional Supercross Series, which opens up in Indianapolis on February 9. Bentley, the 2000 125 Western Regional Champion, has undergone extensive off-season rehabilitation in recuperating from a broken leg and is healed and anxious to get back on the track. "With the season opener last week and better weather in California, I decided to come out west so I could get the most track time possible. I'm going back home now that the weather's okay in Georgia. Besides, the dirt back home is more like the dirt I'll be racing on in the East (125 supercross).

Team Chevy Trucks Kawasaki's Ezra Lusk has racked up 21 career wins in supercross and motocross during his nine-year career, including a 250 victory in San Diego in 1999.

Lusk's teammate Stephane Roncada expects his right shoulder (slightly strained the weekend prior to the season opener) to be fully recuperated for San Diego, "It was a little sore after the race on Saturday, but I've been riding and training all week and I'll be ready to go on Friday (practice) and Saturday." Team Chevy Trucks Kawasaki factory mechanic Dan Worley tunes Roncada's bikes and his trainer is Alan Gerkey.

Team Chevy Trucks Kawasaki's James Stewart on making his pro debut last week in Anaheim, "I wasn't really nervous. I was more anxious to get the whole thing (the supercross season) started. I spent months preparing and testing for that race. It seemed like forever, but now that I got one under my belt, I'll be ready to go for San Diego."

Kawasaki's three championships in 2001 (250 supercross, 250 motocross, and 125 motocross), giving the Irvine, Calif.-based motorcycle company 20 AMA titles in the last decade (1992-2001), seven more than the nearest competitor during the same time span. Kawasaki's pro motocross program has also won two or more championships in each of the last six seasons.

Team Pro Circuit/Kawasaki/Chevy Trucks Matt Walker crashed in the early stages of the 125 main event last Saturday in Anaheim, forcing him to leave the race. Walker, who was hit in the chest with the handlebars of his Kawasaki KX125, practiced this week at the Kawasaki track in Corona, Calif., and is looking forward to getting back on the track in San Diego.

250cc Quick Facts on San Diego:
* 1st Race was 10-25-80. Mike Bell won on Yamaha
* Wins by brand in San Diego: Hon-11, Yam-6, Kaw-1, Suz-0
* Carmichael's win in 2001 was Kawasaki's first in San Diego
* Most wins in San Diego: McGrath-5, Ricky Johnson-3
* McGrath is the only rider to win in San Diego on a 125-250; 7 total wins
* Vuillemin won his first supercross main event in San Diego in 2000
* Vuillemin now has 5 supercross wins. He is tied with Kiedrowski and Howerton on the SX win list. Next up is Windham with 6.
* Vuillemin joins Tortelli as riders from France to win a 1st round. But can he become the first French rider to win the 1st 2 rounds? He got his 1st ever 250 SX win here back in 2000.
* Last weekend was the first time Carmichael finished off the podium since the final round of competition in 2000.
* Last weekend was only the fourth time in McGrath's career that he finished outside the top 10.
* There are 11 former 125cc Regional Supercross champions who are competing in 250cc competition for 2003
* This is the 15th year that supercross has been held in San Diego

125cc Quick Facts on San Diego:
* San Diego was the host of the first 125cc Supercross on 1/26/85. Todd Campbell won that race on a Kawasaki.
* Yamaha has won four in a row in San Diego, starting in 1998.
* Suzuki hasn't won here since 1995, Kawasaki since 1994. Stewart can help change that.

-ama/cce-

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Series AMA
Drivers Scott Taylor , Ricky Carmichael , David Vuillemin , Travis Pastrana , Ezra Lusk , Chad Reed , Stephane Roncada , Mike Bell , Ricky Johnson , James Stewart , Mike LaRocco