Jeff Emig knows his way around Las Vegas: He won his first 250
Supercross main event here on a peculiar Saturday night in 1995, then
clinched the ’97 AMA Supercross title in Sin City while riding for Team
Kawasaki. He also won the last big race of his career, the 1999 U.S.
Open of Supercross, on an FMF-backed privateer Yamaha. Finally, he
retired in Vegas, holding four major titles, 37 AMA National/SX wins,
and three victorious rides for Team USA at the Motocross des Nations.
With all that in mind, Racer X Online asked Fro to give us his take on
the 2006 Amp’d Mobile AMA Supercross Championship and the three men in
title contention. Here’s what Jeff had to say.
Everyone in the motorcycle-racing world has their eyes on Las Vegas
this weekend. An unprecedented points race in our sport’s premier
championship has Ricky Carmichael and Chad Reed tied, with James
Stewart only five points back. Most years, by the time we get to Vegas,
the points race is pretty secure for the champion, but not this
year—even the 250F classes had great points races.
When I think about what really stands out about this year’s Amp’d
Mobile AMA Supercross Championship, it is the perseverance that the top
riders have shown and the obstacles they have had to overcome. RC and
James have clearly been challenging each other week after week for the
race wins, while Reed has quietly stayed in the running by placing on
the podium and taking advantage of the occasional mistake by the other
two leaders, even notching two race wins when most weeks, he’s off the
pace of Stewart and Carmichael. It would have been easy for Chad to
write the year off and settle into third, but his I-want-to-win
attitude will not let him do that. Coincidentally, he has put himself
in a position to win the championship—who would have thought?
James Stewart has definitely shown the most speed late in the season. I
think he has been the most improved rider this year. James rides in a
way that big mistakes are going to cost him, but that's how he goes so
fast! You can’t have it both ways: You either ride tight and safe or
loose and dangerous. I guess the key is to find a balance that wins the
championship. With the spectacular get-offs we have seen from James
this season—Daytona and Anaheim 3 come to mind—it is amazing he is
still in the championship.
Now we come to the GOAT. Ricky has been challenged this year like never
before. In the beginning, it was a challenge just to grab a race win,
which shouldn't be a problem, seeing how he has done that over a
hundred times before. Stewart showed up with a new machine, wearing a
new number, and showing a new speed. It took Ricky a few races to bag
his first win—seemingly longer than he is used to. RC elevated his
testing, made his bike better, and started trading race wins with
Stewart week after week. Then James made some big mistakes and Ricky
capitalized on them. But then the fuel deal happened and he was docked
a 25 points. Suzuki made a great case and had the decision reversed,
but there was no reversing the bike failure in St. Louis that cost him
25 points. He rebounded by winning three in a row, followed by three
seconds. Surely, at this point the mathematical equations were in his
favor to win the championship—all he had to do was keep finishing
second and he would cruise to victory. But a mistake at Dallas and a
third in the mud at Seattle has put him in a tie with Reed for the
championship going into this last race!
Whether RC, Reed, or James is your favorite, you have to give it up for
all three of them. They all have shown great a determination to be
champion. They all have pushed their own limits and sometimes failed.
But the real lesson is that none of them has given up, even when it
would have been easy to. I guess that's why we have the greatest points
race in the history of the sport!
If James ends up on top, it will be because of his amazing speed and
the beginning of what I'm sure will be a string of supercross
championships. If Reed wins, it will be an amazing story of what can
happen if you never give up and how you can put yourself in a position
to have luck go your way (and we all need that now and then). And if RC
wins, well, it will be the greatest challenge of his career, only
fitting for our sports winningest rider ever.
So no matter how it plays out on Saturday night in Las Vegas, just
remember all three of these guys are champions and we are all very
lucky to witness this epic battle.