Oh boy! Not again. I have a sneaky suspicion that this season’s 450 class is playing out the same tune again and again. How many times have we looked at the standings and shook our heads ever so slightly? It’s Ricky on top again. That’s ho-hum news. In fact, these days it’s hardly news at all.
Another 1-1 for Ricky wrapped up the proceedings at Red Bud over the weekend. And this happened even after James Stewart’s return to competitive racing from injury. We expected some biff-and-barge, duck-and-dive racing between these two stalwarts. It used to be that what Ricky can, Bubba can do it as well. Of course, it’s too impish of us to expect Bubba to be battle-ready from the get-go. Since this being his first race after the injury. But as Ricky told Steve Bruhn after the race, he didn’t feel perturbed seeing the “Green Monster” behind him, and that he made adjustments to his bike set-up that gave him the comfort zone.
Imagine the nature of the competition when Ricky said he was at will to take the lines and not bothered about Bubba behind him … and that nonchalance did have a bearing on the overall results. But Stewart did put on the game-face even though he was short of being 100 percent fit. This kid tries hard, always. I just can’t wait to see him race Ricky wheel-to-wheel, but at the same time I am worried that Unadilla’s rocks may cause blood for someone. I hope that Bubba keeps it up just fine and doesn’t hurt his banged-up knee again at Unadilla. That would be painful both for him and the rest of the season.
Even though we haven’t reached the halfway stage in this year’s championship, I feel that unless Chad Reed steps it up, Ricky clinching his championship before the last-round ceremony seems like a foregone conclusion. And certainly I am not prescient here. But that’s what has happened before—nine times in the last nine years, actually—and that’s what is going to happen this year. Because Ricky has already racked up the points and almost leads by 100 over Kevin Windham, who is third and light-years behind Ricky and Reed, so one cannot expect any late-season charge from the peloton. (The Tour de France has started, hence a little cycling flavor.) Even though a healthy James could compile a few wins, he’s way far back to have any impact on Ricky’s standings. Of course, we all know that between Ricky and Bubba, Ricky won’t treat that as a playing-for-the-points race—no way outdoors.
But I was disappointed with Reed’s performance. The only time Reed did win the AMA Supercross title was when Ricky sat out the season. But that’s probably prejudicial against Reed. Even Wikipedia mentions about Reed’s inability to duke it out with Ricky. While mentioning about his SX title, it says something to the effect of, “While still a major accomplishment, Reed has never been recognized as the world's best supercross racer because he has so far been unable to beat Ricky Carmichael over the course of a championship season.” And that’s a stigma that sadly would be attached to Reed as long as he fails to upend Ricky’s run, especially indoors.
As far as this season’s concerned, it’s time that Reed ratchets up the competition to induce some sort of a showdown between him and Ricky. But we all know that Reed is a better supercross rider than when he is outdoors. I could be counted as a Pollyanna if I were to dream of such a scenario to unfold this year. Maybe next time. But that phrase has also been worn out.
Hopefully, if James can start fit and manages to avoid any spills, things could be interesting. Until then I’m going to focus myself on the Lites class.