The 2006 edition of the Kawasaki/Monster Energy Pro National
at High Point
presented by Anderson and
Strudwick presented plenty of changes from High Point
in years past: a redesigned track layout, a cool vintage parade lap featuring
top riders from High Point
past, and plenty of other tricks to make the race better than ever. But to any
of the fans on hand, it’s the racing that really counts, and it was the rematch
of last year’s Carmichael/Stewart battle that had the people pumped up.
Of course, last year’s battle only lasted half way through
each moto. By then, it looked like Stewart had tired from riding his KX250 fast
enough to keep up with Carmichael
. But this
time James had a KX450, and that weapon let him take it to Carmichael
nearly all the way to the finish.
In the first moto Stewart collected the Racer X Holeshot,
but he picked a bad line in the second turn and lost a few positions. Soon he
was up to second and hounding Carmichael
before long he made a pass and tried to take off. For a few laps, James pulled
away, with his gap maxing out at about three seconds. But before long, Carmichael
had settled in, figured out the right lines,
and started closing the gap back up.
|Stewart was on fire in the first moto, until a huge crash knocked him out of the race.|
Trevor Hawk photo
Then Stewart got held up big time by lapped traffic – the duo
was going so fast that they caught traffic very early in the moto. This put RC
right on him, and the battle raged after that, with the High Point
nuts, the cheers chasing the battle around the track like a giant wave.
Finally, with only bout three laps to go, Carmichael
made a mistake and went off the track. Stewart opened up a few bike lengths,
appeared to be closing when all
of a sudden … Stewart endoed off of the step-down double past the finish line.
He went down hard – head first, too. It was a scary, violent wreck, and James
appeared to be knocked out momentarily. Amazingly, he was able to walk off
under his own power a few minutes later, although he took a seat in the
Asterisk medic mule.
|Davi Millsaps challenged Chad Reed at the beginning of each moto, but arm pump set in and dropped him off the pace. |
Trevor Hawk photo
won big with Chad
Reed second and Davi Millsaps
in a solid third.
With Stewart out for moto two, everyone knew what would
happen in that race, and predictably Carmichael
pulled away to an easy win. Reed had to deal with pressure from Millsaps again
before Millsaps admittedly pumped up and dropped off to finish a distant third.
And once again the series and the point standings appear to
be all Carmichael
|David Vuillemin took top privateer honors again with another great ride for Team Motoworldracing.com|
Trevor Hawk photo
In the AMA Motocross Lites class, a tremendous battle broke
out in moto one. Mike Alessi
just edged out Chris Gosselaar
for the holeshot, but
L’il Goose knifed inside and took the lead. Unfortunately, Gosselaar twisted
his sore ankle in a rut and had to pull off. Alessi had made a mistake, and
this put Josh Grant
out front by himself. Meanwhile Grant Langston
up his rejuvenation machine and was charging in second with Alessi behind him
and Ryan Villopoto
making up time from the back.
|Ryan Villopoto overcame bad starts to go 2-1 and take his first-ever AMA Motocross victory.|
|Matt Ware Photo|
Then things unraveled in a hurry. Grant washed out in a turn
and hooked his ankle. The crash put Langston into the lead with Alessi right
behind him. Langston held Alessi back until he washed out in a corner, also,
which finally put Mike into the number one spot. Grant was in second after the
Langston fall, but he was suffering with that ankle and dropped second to
Alessi’s moto win put him in position for another overall
win, but it was not to be when he crashed in the second turn of moto two. He
charged from the back, but it was way too late to preserve the overall. Out
front, Honda’s Andrew Short
was trying to make up for a first turn crash in
moto one by pulling the lead, but Villopoto’s charge from the back was most
impressive. He passed the ailing Langston and Grant and then went to work on
Short, finally catching him and passing. From there, the young rookie cruised
to his first overall win.
So after all the changes at High Point
in the end Carmichael
won the battle to leave
with a solid points lead in the 450 division, and the Lites class is anyone’s
game. Sometimes the more things change, the more they stay the same.
|The Stewart and Carmichael battle in moto one was an absolute classic. And plenty of fans were on hand to cheer them on.|
Matt Ware photo