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.
the gate slammed down on the opening moto of the weekend it was young
Kyle Chisholm grabbing the biggest holeshot of his life. Chisholm was
able to win the drag race between him and perennial holeshot ace Mike
Alessi and lead a pro national for the first time. “Man, I knew I had a
good jump and the only fender I saw on inside was Alessi. I just held
the throttle on and two turns later I kind of said to myself, wow, I am
leading an outdoor national!” Chisholm soon fell victim to Mike, but
stayed attached to his rear fender and the moto began to sort itself
out. The race quickly developed into a Loretta Lynn’s alumni showdown
as Josh Grant, Andrew Short, Jason Lawrence, Matt Goerke, Billy
Laninovich and the aforementioned leading duo of Chisholm and Alessi
mixed it up. The YOT machines of Brett Metcalfe and Andrew McFarlane
got into the mix as well as were freight training to the front of the
pack. But it was Andrew Short who flexed the biggest muscles as he took
his factory CRF250R past Alessi and into the point position. The
bombshell for this moto occurred around the halfway point when Ryan
Villopoto and Grant Langston both suffered an engine failure. Both
riders were among the fastest lap times in the field and it was a
crushing blow to both riders’ championship hopes. Meanwhile, Short kept
the heat on and gradually pulled away for the win over Alessi who had
to dig deep late in the moto to hold off a surprising Brett Metcalfe.
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.
made his move as they encountered heavy lapped traffic, and tried to
sprint away but Stewart kept him head down and kept contact. With about
5 laps to go RC had built up about a five second lead and appeared to
on his way to victory. The next lap, RC never emerged from the back
section of the track. The number seven came into view first and a very,
very long 32 seconds later came normally infallible Carmichael who had
gotten off hard on a whooped out series of rolling table tops.
Reportedly, Ricky was suffering from a soft shock set up and swapped
out. James went on to take the win while Ricky rolled home comfortably
ahead of Chad Reed who rode hard for third. After the race Stewart was
in a lot of pain and required the attention of his team and entourage
to help him get from his bike to his hauler. Meanwhile, Carmichael sat
dejectedly at his team hauler with his face in his hands. Clearly, both
men left it all on the track. The only question was, whom had the most
left for moto two?
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.
After a brief struggle Langston dispatched Metcalfe and pulled away all
the way to the checkered. Moto one winner Andrew Short gated poorly,
but rode hard to get into fourth place, but that was as high as he
would climb. The overall ended up being a three-way tie with Alessi
finishing 2-3, Metcalfe tallying 3-2, and Andrew Short with a 1-4. With
25 points going to a winner of the moto in AMA competition and 22
awarded for second, it was Short with the most points and the overall
win on the day.
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.