Kawasaki/Racer X Race Report

June 11, 2006 8:28pm

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.

Andrew Short
When 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.
Ricky Carmichael
Ricky 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.
Grant Langston
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.