Had Team Yamaha ‘s Doug Henry finished no better than 20th but left the Budds Creek National with all of his body parts intact, he would have been satisfied- perhaps even happy.
Three years ago, Henry suffered a nearly career-ending broken back at Budds Creek, and just last year he broke both arms here. But today he not only left the facility in one piece, he also won- putting an end to the Doug Henry Budds Creek curse once and for all. And he did it in front of 12,423 sun-drenched spectators.
On a hot and balmy day in southern Maryland – quite the contrast to the mud bath the week before in Southwick, Massachusetts – Henry chased teammate Kevin Windham to a second-place finish in the first moto. Then things pretty much picked up where they left off at the start of the second moto, with Windham leading and Henry running second.
This time, however, Henry was able to wear down his nearly 10-year-younger counterpart, passing him at the halfway point and running off with the moto win and the overall victory.
It was a very satisfying win for the ever-popular Easterner who seemed to have nothing but bad luck at this track.
“This was one of my goals this year, to win Budds Creek,” Henry said. “I’m just so glad to be able to come here and do it. I wasn’t sure if I was going to do my best here, but I did. I won it, and I’m really happy.”
Despite fading back to fourth before the second moto was over, Windham still nabbed second overall, giving Team Yamaha a well-earned 1-2 sweep. Windham led Henry and the rest of the 40 rider pack around the long and hilly Budds Creek track the entire 30-minute plus-two-lap first moto, never really pulling away from Henry but staying ahead just enough to take a confidence boosting win.
Just as he had done in the first rmoto, Windham grabbed the holeshot in the second moto and again led Henry around for half the race. But this time, however, fatigue set in. He first succumbed to Henry, then to Mike LaRocco and finally to Mickael Pichon before settling into fourth for good.
“I’m coming around,” Windham said of his coming back from his separated shoulder suffered earlier in the year. “I just got tired. I was seeing like four of everything and just feeling real tired. I mean the heat was incredible. I’m coming around and doing what it takes. I mean the competition is so tough. I’m riding on top of my game right now, but it’s real depressing when there’s one simple thing- getting in shape. I mean it’s one of the hardest jobs to do, but it’s the one thing that everybody can do Not everybody can go out there and ride fast, I feel like I do that pretty well, but that one thing that everybody can get, I don’t have right now.”
For someone who said he is not used to riding in the heat, Team Suzuki ‘s Mickael Pichon fooled a lot of people by putting together two solid third-place rides for third overall. Pichon was never all that far behind Henry and Windham in the first moto, and he was close enough to catch a tiring Windham in the second moto to take third behind Henry and LaRocco.
“It was a great day,” said the Frenchman. “I tried very hard. I didn’t think I would do that good in the heat because I am not used to it, but my Suzuki is working really good and things are coming together. It was tough out there.”
Fourth overall went to Mike laRocco on the Factory Connection/Jack in the Box/Shockware Honda. In the first moto, LaRocco got off to a 15th-place start but quickly threaded his way up through the pack, and by the eighth lap he had control of sixth, where he would eventually finish. LaRocco gated much better in the second moto and had a lock on third bv the end of the first lap. He followed Windham and Henry around for a number of laps, and when Windham started to fade, LaRocco seemed to step it up a little bit more and began working really hard on the new leader, Henry.
LaRocco gave it everything he had but just couldn’t quite break the approximately four-second barrier Henry had built between first and second.
“I caught up a little bit,” LaRocco said of his charge on Henry. “But I struggled with lappers, and it was really tough to make up anything on this track. If you lost it, it was hard getting it back.”
Rounding out the top five overall was Team Suzuki’s Greg Albertyn, who was hoping to pick up some ground on Henry-In the series points chase but instead lost 10 points. But things could have been worse.
“I injured my shoulder last week [at Southwick] and haven ‘t been able to ride all week,” said the three-time World Champion. “I had to have a cortisone injection on Thursday because I couldn’t even move it, so I’m pretty happy just to have gotten points today and maintain my second place.”
Albertyn went 5-7 on the day.
A pair of eighths gave Canadian Jean Sebastien Roy, on his Two Wheels-backed Kawasaki, top-privateer honors in sixth overall. He was followed by Kawasaki of Mexico/Tecate’s Phil Lawrence and local favorite Kevin Crine, from nearby Mechanicsville.
Crine rode his Gaulding’s Kawasaki/ RRP-backed KX250 to a pair of 10th place finishes.
The Budds Creek National was yet another disaster for Team Honda. After losing 125cc rider Steve Lamson at Southwick after he reinjured his broken collarbone, the team lost its remaining rider Ezra Lusk for an undetermined amount of time after he suffered a broken arm in a second-moto, first-turn crash (see Briefly…). Lusk was still credited with ninth overall via his fourth place ride in the first moto. He did not finish the second moto,
Completing the top 10 overall was Heath Voss on his Great Lakes Aviation Honda. Voss went 13-12 on the day.
The Budds Creek National wasn’t particularly kind to either Team Kawasaki’s Jeff Emig or Team Suzuki’s Larry Ward, with both riders carding a DNF in the first moto. Emig had his bike lock up while running sixth on the 10th lap, and Ward was forced to retire after having someone’s foot peg sheer off a bunch of his front wheel’s spokes through the first tum.
Emig and Ward returned to do battle in the second moto, with Emig finishing fifth and Ward sixth.
With five rounds now completed in the 12-round series, Henry has opened up a 28-point lead over Albertyn, 201-173, and he is also the first double winner of the series, his first win coming just one week earlier at Southwick. A close third is LaRocco with 170 points, and closing in fourth is Pichon with 168.
To read more from the July 1, 1998 issue click here: