Carmichael Steps Up In Phoenix

Shan Moore | January 14, 2006

Two races are in the books and it still looks like anybody’s season, as a jubilant and perhaps relieved Ricky Carmichael took the win on his Team Makita Suzuki at round two of the Amp’d Mobile AMA Supercross Series held at Chase Field in Phoenix, Arizona, tonight.

Team Yamaha’s Chad Reed finished second after looking as though he would pull away early on for a win, while last week’s winner, Team Kawasaki’s James Stewart, came from dead last at the start to finish third on a very fast and relatively easy track.

Crowd favorite Jeremy McGrath, riding a two-stroke Honda, ran in third for 11 laps before giving way to Stewart in the end, but still wound up with fourth overall at the finish.

Unbound Energy/MDK Motorsports Honda’s Nick Wey rounded out the top five.

Carmichael’s win moves him into a tie with Stewart for the series championship lead with 44 points each, while Reed sits in third just one point back.

Unlike at the opening round in Anaheim, where Stewart was considerably faster than the rest of the field, the top three basically ran even up all night, as far as lap times go, and going into the main event it looked as though whoever got the start – or the breaks – would get the win. And, basically, that’s what happened.

McGrath got the holeshot in the main, and led for two laps, while Stewart, who was coming off of three straight wins, went down in the first turn, and restarted in dead last.

Reed moved up after a fourth place start to take the lead from McGrath on lap three and from there, steadily pulled away until had he held a seven-second lead, on lap five, over Carmichael, who worked his way into second from outside of the top five.

On lap six, Reed made a bobble, which allowed Carmichael to pull within striking distance. In the meantime, Stewart was brilliantly working the field and had passed 11 riders up to that point.

On lap nine, Carmichael made an aggressive block-pass on Reed to take the lead and maintained an error-free race to the checkers for the win.

Reed ran solo to the finish for second, while in the end, Stewart passed McGrath for third.

Carmichael and Stewart go into Anaheim 2 deadlocked for the lead in the points race, while Reed, who has made considerable strides since the Canadian rounds, bides his time in third.

In the Lites division, last week’s winner, Team Honda’s Andrew Short, collided on the first lap with Monster Energy Pro Circuit Kawasaki’s Ryan Villopoto, while the two battled over the lead. The resulting crash allowed Star Racing/Yamaha’s Sean Collier to take the point, something that he would hold onto for four laps, before yielding to Red Bull KTM’s Nathan Ramsey.

Behind Ramsey and Collier, Sobe/Samsung/Mobile/Honda’s Billy Laninovich, Short, Monster Energy Pro Circuit Kawasaki’s Grant Langston and Villopoto waged a four-way battle over the final podium position, which Langston ended up with after a bold pass with two turns remaining in the race.

At the finish, it was Ramsey with the win, Laninovich in second, and Langston, Villopoto and Short rounding out the top five.

The win gave Laninovich the series points lead by a single point over Short (42 to 41), while Lites rookie Villopoto sits in third with 38.

SX MAIN (20 laps):

1. Ricky Carmichael (Suz)

2. Chad Reed (Yam)

3. James Stewart (Kaw)

4. Jeremy McGrath (Hon)

5. Nick Wey (Hon)

6. Michael Byrne (Kaw)

7. Ernesto Fonseca (Hon)

8. Mike LaRocco (Hon)

9. Ivan Tedesco (Suz)

10. David Vuillemin (Hon)

SX LITES MAIN (15 laps):

1. Nathan Ramsey (KTM)

2. Billy Laninovich (Hon)

3. Grant Langston (Kaw)

4. Ryan Villopoto (Kaw)

5. Andrew Short (Hon)

6. Sean Collier (Yam)

7. Paul Carpenter (Hon

8. Darcy Lange (Kaw)

9. Brett Metcalfe (Yam)

10. Mike Alessi (KTM)

Shan Moore | Contributing Editor

Moore covers all facets of off-road racing for Cycle News – from AMA Supercross and Motocross to GNCC and National Hare Scrambles events.