Team Makita Suzuki’s Ricky Carmichael won the fifth AMA Supercross Championship of his stellar career tonight in Las Vegas, Nevada, the Floridian riding a calculated race to finish second behind Team Kawasaki’s James Stewart to win the title by just two points.
Second was where Carmichael needed to finish and that’s exactly where he ended up, withstanding the constant pressure of Yamaha’s Chad Reed, the man with whom he was tied in the point standings heading into the final round.
Reed also rode a solid race, but no matter how hard he tried he couldn’t get closer than three seconds to Carmichael. Meanwhile, Stewart led from start to finish, holeshotting the main event and never giving an inch as he stormed to his 11th win of the season.
When all was said and done, Carmichael earned the crown by just two points over Stewart and Reed, the two tying for second on points after 15 rounds of racing. Stewart, however, did end up taking the World Supercross Championship, the first of his career. Both riders celebrated together on one of the jumps after the event, with each taking a title.
“It’s always hard to beat that first one [title] with Jeremy [McGrath], but after St. Louis and the last couple of races and I kept telling myself that Chad [Reed] hadn’t beaten me straight up except for last week,” Carmichael said from the podium. “We pulled ourselves out of a hole and I can’t believe it. I seen him coming and I thought, ‘There ain’t no way he’s catching me.’ He didn’t do it all year and he wasn’t going to do it tonight.”
Fourth place went to Sobe Honda’s Kevin Windham.
Honda’s Travis Preston finished fifth with Nicky Wey sixth. Carmichael’s teammate Ivan Tedesco rebounded from a nasty heat-race crash to finish seventh in the main event. Josh Demuth, Broc Sellards and Heath Voss rounded out the top 10.
“It was a great 20 laps,” Stewart said. “It was perfect out there. I rode awesome and I got what I wanted. I busted my ass this year and I tried my best out there.”
“I felt like I rode well,” a disappointed Reed said. “All three couldn’t ride away from each other, and all year it wasn’t like that because those guys had me covered all year long. I’m pretty disappointed. I wanted to win that title, but, hey, I’m the third best rider in the world. We just have to put our head down and try harder. I gave it everything I could and that’s all I can ask for myself.”
The much-anticipated Dave Coombs Sr. Memorial East/West Shootout went off without West Champion Grant Langston, who suffered a wrist injury on press day, but it still matched the best of the East - Davey Millsaps - against the rest, including rookie Ryan Villopoto, Andrew Short, Alessi, etc.
Villopoto got the holeshot with Mike Alessi right behind him. Then Alessi shot past with Villopoto crashing out. Chris Gosselaar held second, but he then went down, limping off the track with a knee injury. Alessi led Short and Millsaps, but both passed the young KTM rider in short order.
From there those two, Short and Millsaps, pulled clear from the pack, riding in close formation until the eighth lap when Millsaps went down in a slow right-hander. Alessi took over second with Millsaps having troubles getting the bike going, then stopping to get assistance in getting the front wheel straight in the fork.
The best battle on the track after Millsaps crashed out was for second place with Alessi and Grant going at it. Then with six laps to go, Grant tried to block pass Alessi, but ended up taking himself out when he got tangled up in a Tuf Block. That left Alessi clear in second with Tommy Hahn third.
With three laps to go, Short led Alessi by some 16 seconds. Game over.
To further ruin Millsaps night, Short lapped the East Champion with three laps to go with Millsaps running in 20th place.
Short made up for a disappointing round last week when he lost the title to Langston in Seattle. Alessi held on for second in what was his best finish of the season. Hahn ended the race in third on his Sobe-backed Honda.
“I was horrible last week and this was awesome,” Short said on the podium.
It was also a big night for Supercross in that it was the first time in the history of the sport that a race was shown live on television, with Speed Channel covering the event in its entirety.
1. James Stewart (Kawasaki)
2. Ricky Carmichael (Suzuki)
3. Chad Reed (Yamaha)
4. Kevin Windham (Honda)
5. Travis Preston (Honda)
6. Nick Wey (Honda)
7. Ivan Tedesco (Suzuki)
8. Josh Demuth (Honda)
9. Broc Sellards (Honda)
10. Heath Voss (Yamaha)
Lites Final Results
1. Andrew Short (Honda)
2. Mike Alessi (KTM)
3. Tommy Hahn (Honda)
4. Josh Grant (Honda
5. Ryan Morais (Suzuki)
6. Ryan Villopoto (Kawasaki)
7. Darcy Lange (Kawasaki) 8. Robert Kiniry (Honda)
9. Kyle Partridge (Yamaha)
10. J. Brayton (Yamaha)