Southwick Race report
Historic Motocross 338, at scenic Southwick, Massachusetts played host to round 3 of the AMA Toyota Motocross Nationals. Arguably the toughest stop on the National tour, the 2006 version of “The Wick” delivered with four super dramatic and hard fought races and race victories. Each drop of the gate saw a different winner, as the capacity crowd enjoyed an absolutely gorgeous sun drenched day of the greatest show on dirt. The anticipation meter was maxed out with the return of legendary Southwick sand masters, Doug Henry and John Dowd, coupled with another sneak attack by Travis Pastrana and his Nitro Circus. These elements only fed the already smoldering fire of the 250F and 450F class action in what may turn out to be the most pivotal round of the series. If the extremely rough track conditions were not enough of a test, the track was ran backwards, which provided even more challenges for the racers. There were crashes, mechanical failures, heartbreak and misfortune. Although, Ricky Carmichael and Mike Alessi had to wear big smiles as they washed the gritty sand off their backs at their team haulers when the final checkered flag flew on the day. Here’s what went down.
Although, perhaps the most impressive ride of the race was put in by Matt Goerke. The soft-spoken Star Racing Yamaha mounted speedster gated in the top, and put on a charge that carried him to 4th place by races end. After the race Goerke was all smiles and said, “I got out there pretty good but I didn’t feel very good for the first couple of laps. Then, things just started clicking and I began feeling really good and just started passing guys. Chisholm eventually faded to 7th behind Jason Lawrence, but was ecstatic with his run. The stage was certainly set for an epic moto two.
Next up were the big boys. James Stewart had set the fastest times in practice but was still reeling from his horrendous crash two weeks prior. In fact, James had to be helped to his machine before and after the motos. Be that as it may, James pulled the holeshot ahead of Carmichael and immediately set a frightening fast pace. Carmichael appeared to be waiting just outside of James rooster tail for a mistake or a fade from the 2006 World Supercross champion but Stewart remained steadfast. At the cross flags, Ricky dropped the hammer and began pushing James who was still riding impeccably and posting consistent lap times.
Moto 2 of the 250F class saw Grant Langston return with a vengeance. Just when you think that guy is down and out he comes back with more speed and determination than ever. Although, it was Brett Metcalfe that grabbed the early lead from Josh Grant and Mike Alessi who appeared destined for victory. Metcalfe actually pulled away from the pack and appeared to be on his way to his first career moto and overall win, but it was not to be. Bum arm and all, Langston gradually got stronger and stronger and reeled in the blue machine.
As the 450f class completed their hot lap there was a lot of speculation as to how much James Stewart had left in the tank. As James grabbed yet another holeshot, this speculation grew. Again, Carmichael stayed about three bike lengths behind but looked to be making an attack much earlier this time around. In an exciting twist, Davi Millsaps gated third and was staying glued to the front running duo. Ricky didn’t waste much time. “I ate a lot of dirt in the first moto, and I was over that. And besides, ole Millsaps was right on my butt and I had to get going or he was gonna get us both!” Ricky proclaimed at the post race press conference. Ricky made his way past James with a spectacular feet off the pegs mid air pass over the finish line. James his best to stay on Carmichael, but there would be no catching # 4 on the insanely rough Southwick track. Millsaps eventually faded to fourth, as Chad Reed got faster and faster as the moto grew long. Up front it was all Carmichael as he simply proved to be too strong to overcome. “I like this place, because it shows what rider in the strongest.” Just as the race appeared to approaching an anticlimactic ending, disaster struck For Stewart. With one lap remaining, in the same high-speed section as Carmichael went down on in moto one, James’ KX450F threw a rod, which caused the 20-year-old to endure a violent crash. James got up but was noticeably shaken. Amazingly, they had lapped up to 10th place and even though James didn’t take the checkered flag in moto two, he still finished 11th in the moto which was good for 4th overall.
Ricky Carmichael now holds onto a 14-point lead in the standings, while Alessi stretched his 250F class lead to 25.