Phoenix SX Practice Report

January 14, 2006 4:06pm

The biggest news from the track today is the track itself. After Anaheim 1’s technical layout and treacherous whoops claimed a lot of victims last week, Amp’d Mobile Supercross, Dirt Wurx and AMA Pro Racing have taken a step back and worked the kinks out in Phoenix. A1’s whoops were very tough, but there’s only one small whoop section here. A1 featured a non-stop onslaught of technical obstacles, but Phoenix has a few sections built in where the riders can race, think, rest and regroup.

AMA Pro Racing Series Manager Steve Whitelock held a meeting today with the factory team managers about making the tracks safer, and then he held a roundtable discussion with the media to outline those ideas. The basic plan is this: at Anaheim, the riders had to think about the track during every inch of every lap. If a rider broke concentration for just a split second to think about strategy, he would end up on the ground. Whitelock believes, for example, that when Ricky Carmichael got into the lead, he probably thought for just a moment, “Okay, I have the lead and I need to check out.” Even with just that very momentary lack of focus, RC was down in the whoops and lucky to have emerged unhurt.

Whitelock doesn’t believe anyone has the mental capability to focus for every split second in a 20-minute race. So, they’ll be building in some sections that allow the racers to think like racers and plan things out instead of just trying to place their front wheel in the exact right spot on every part of the track. As Whitelock explained, “At Anaheim the riders had to race the track. We want them to race each other.”

So that’s the track. Now on to the racers. Carmichael, Stewart and Reed are setting the pace as usual, with RC setting the fastest time in session 1, and Stewart answering back with the fastest lap of all in session two. But man is it close – 52.6 for James against 52.8 for RC. And RC’s second best lap was .1 seconds faster than Stewart’s second best lap. Reed clocked a 53.2 and also had a fall in the second session. Still, that’s closer than he was in Anaheim, when he was over a second off the pace in practice.

In the Lites, Grant Langston had the best time in the second session. Billy Laninovich was second, and the Ryan Sipes that we saw in Vancouver came back here for the third fastest time. Sipes struggled big in Anaheim but he looks fast here.

Last week’s winner Andrew Short tweaked his ankle this week at the Honda track, but he’s riding and still looks strong.

That’s the word from Phoenix. Don’t forget to tune into Supercross Live! tonight at 9:00 p.m. EST on