It was déjà vu all over again.
Team Mazda/Yamaha Racing’s Jeremy McGrath got the holeshot, but soon found himself back in third behind Yamaha’s Tim Ferry, while, out front, Team Chevy Trucks Kawasaki’s Ricky Carmichael blazed into the night. The same thing had happened two weeks earlier in Indianapolis and McGrath never had a chance. This time, however, McGrath made short work of Ferry and set out for Carmichael, but the result was the same, Carmichael winning his fourth supercross in a row, this one comfortably, before a crowd of 65,461 in round seven of the AMA/EA Sports Supercross Series on the red clay floor of the Georgia Dome.
“It was gnarly out there for sure,” Carmichael said after his fifth win in seven tries. “It was really, really rutty. It made it hard on me for sure.”
McGrath had made the night hard on himself. A spill in his heat sent him to the semi, the first time he’d raced a semi since the Seattle Supercross in January 1999. The semi race didn’t go according to plan and he ended up second. His pick on the start line for the main wasn’t great, yet he still managed to somehow snare the holeshot, but he couldn’t hold it. Again he had to fight by Ferry and run after Carmichael. McGrath came up short, though he was much closer than he’d been in Indy. Carmichael’s margin of victory was 2.62 seconds.
The results were the same in the championship standings, however, Carmichael gaining three more points to pad his cushion to nine, 167-158, with nine races to go.
“We’re going one-two every weekend and it’s hard as heck to make up points when you’re doing it that way,” Carmichael said. "I just need to keep doing what I’m doing, not change nothing, see what happens.”
American Honda’s Ezra Lusk moved into third on the fifth lap and held on to the bitter end, despite a second half push by Amsoil/Doc Martens/Competition Accessories Honda’s Mike LaRocco. LaRocco came within half a bikelength of stealing third.
Team Chevy Trucks Kawasaki’s Stephane Roncada was a lonely fifth in front of the Yamaha team of David Vuillemin and Tim Ferry.
Any hope Suzuki’s Travis Pastrana had of winning his second race in a row ended in a heap just before the first turn. Pastrana went down in the four-rider pileup, getting away well back in last place. He’d finish the race, but only to collect what few points he could.
Out front it was Yamaha of Troy’s Nathan Ramsey booming into the lead on the YZ-250F. Ramsey avoided the first turn melee and pulled clean away, stretching his lead lap after lap, the cushion growing to more than 18 seconds on his way to winning his first 125cc Eastern Regional race of the year. Tonight’s win, along with a second in the previous race in Indianapolis, vaulted Ramsey into the championship points lead. After two of eight races, Ramsey has a nine-point lead over two riders tied at 38, Splitfire/Pro Circuit Kawasaki’s Michael Brown and Yamaha of Troy’s Nicholas Wey.
“It’s great to win and it’s great to be in the driver’s seat, but it’s a long series,” Ramsey, the 1999 125cc Western Regional Champion, said after the win. “He [Pastrana] won last week, but look what happened. You can’t count your chickens before they hatch.”
KTM’s Brock Sellards ran in second for much of the race with Splitfire/Pro Circuit Kawasaki’s Michael Brown a constant presence until Brown bobbled near the halfway point and fell back to third. That moved Yamaha of Troy’s Nicholas Wey into third and he chased Sellards right to the flag, coming up a few bike lengths short.
“I definitely want to move to the middle of the podium,” Sellards said after finishing second. Sellards had recently been bothered by arm pump which slowed him in the closing stages, but he said it wasn’t a problem tonight.
1. Ricky Carmichael (Kaw)
2. Jeremy McGrath (Yam)
3. Ezra Lusk (Hon)
4. Mike LaRocco (Hon)
5. Stephane Roncada (Kaw)
6. David Vuillemin (Yam)
7. Tim Ferry (Yam)
8. Steve Lamson (Hus)
9. Kevin Windham (Suz)
10. Damon Huffman (Yam)
AMA/EA Sports Supercross Series Point Standings (After 7 of 16 rounds)
1. Ricky Carmichael (167/5 wins)
2. Jeremy McGrath (158/2)
3. Mike LaRocco (129)
4. Kevin Windham (109)
5. Ezra Lusk (108)
6. David Vuillemin (100)
7. Stephane Roncada (83)
8. Tim Ferry (72)
9. Nicholas Wey (62)
10. Sebastien Tortelli (56)