Ward, at 45, still shows all the speed that earned him AMA Motocross and Supercross titles in the 1980s. He’s won a series leading eight Supermoto races so far this season and holds a 32-point over series rival Doug Henry, of Graves Motorsports Yamaha. Ward won the first AMA Supermoto race held at Music City Motorplex in 2004, and scored another victory last fall at the track located inside the Tennessee State Fairgrounds.
Even though Ward’s had a great season to this point, he knows one of the most important factors is to finish solidly in Nashville.
“I know I have to just keep plugging away and hopefully not make any more mistakes,” Ward said after winning the last round in Wisconsin. “I’ve lost points leads before this year and then pulled them out again, so I know not to panic. I’m happy. I’ve got a bigger points lead so I can’t complain.”
Doug Henry is returning to Nashville for the first time since 2004. The 37-year-old rider from Torrington, Conn., led the race at Music City Motorplex two years ago before stalling his bike and having trouble re-starting. He eventually got going and finished sixth. Henry is looking forward to coming back to Nashville and is hopeful that he can chip away at Ward’s lead.
“My plan is to go into Nashville and win,” Henry said. “Before I was looking maybe just to finish ahead of Jeff [Ward], but now I’ve got to focus on winning. I haven’t given up hope by any means. I’m looking forward to going into Nashville. I’m hoping the layout is high speed; I tend to do better at high-speed courses. If I can pull out both wins there you never know what might happen going into the final in Long Beach. If I can put a little pressure on Jeff, maybe he’ll make a mistake.”
Ward’s young teammate Chris Fillmore is third in the standings. The 19-year-old from Oxford, Mich., won his first AMA Supermoto race a few weeks ago in Elkhart Lake, Wis., and is gaining in confidence. Fillmore finished fifth and sixth last year in Nashville.
Jurgen Kunzel, along with Ward, is the only other past Nashville Supermoto winner in the field. The German ace has had a tough time trying to defend the No. 1 plate on his Red Bull KTM HMC machine. But in recent rounds Kunzel is starting to display the kind of riding that earned him last year’s championship. He is ranked fifth coming into Nashville and is hoping to duplicate his victory at the track last year.
The equation for AMA Hot Wheels Supermoto Lites class leader Cassidy Anderson is simple coming into Nashville. If the Utah rider wins he’ll clinch the 2006 Lites title for himself and the Troy Lee Designs Honda team. Californian Brandon Currie also knows that he must win on his Graves Yamaha to give himself at least some chance at Long Beach in November.
Anderson is certainly deserving of the Lites title. He’s won all but a single round leading up to the Music City event. Currie has stayed close by virtue of his amazing consistency, finishing on the podium in all but one round.
The AMA 70/30 Racing Supermoto Unlimited class is the most hotly contested this year. At Nashville the top three riders are separated by just seven points. Wisconsin’s Ben Carlson leads the standings coming off a victory at his home track last month. Frenchman David Baffeleuf is just two points back. Whoever finishes ahead of the other between Carlson and Baffeleuf in Nashville, will likely head to the final round with the series lead. Defending champ Micky Dymond is still very much in the hunt again this year. He’s a close third coming into this Saturday’s race. A win there would make the championship a virtual tossup.
There are plenty of activities leading up to the X’treme Cycle Jam 2006 presented by Sloan’s Motorcycle/ATV Supercenter. On Thursday afternoon, Oct. 12, riders will visit Fort Campbell for a special Soldiers Appreciation from 11 a.m.-2:00 p.m. On Friday, Oct. 13 from 5-7 p.m. there will be an autograph signing session at Sloan’s Motorcycle/ATV Supercenter. Friday will also see practice and media day at the Motorplex. Saturday are the pro events featuring the national races and Freestyle Motocross and Street Bike exhibitions. On Sunday the track will host an AMA Sports/NASMOTO Supermoto Grand Championships Regional Qualifier.
Tickets are available at participating area motorcycle dealers and at Ticketmaster. Visit www.musiccitymotorplex.com for additional information.
WHAT: The X’treme Cycle Jam 2006 presented by Sloan’s Motorcycle/ATV Supercenter, round nine of the AMA Supermoto Championship presented by Parts Unlimited.
WHERE: Music City Motorplex, located inside the Tennessee State Fairgrounds at 615 Smith Ave, just a few miles south of downtown Nashville.
WHEN: Oct. 13-15, 2006.
COURSE: Music City Motorplex Supermoto circuit featuring road racing, urbancross, and motocross sections.
SCHEDULE: Friday, Oct. 13, Promoter practice 1:00-4 p.m. and 6:00 to 9:00 p.m. Media ride 4:00-6:00 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 14 – Practice begins at 2:00 p.m. Timed qualifying from 2:45 to 4:15 p.m. Last chance qualifiers 5:00 p.m. Sloan’s Supermoto Superpole at 6:00 p.m. Opening ceremonies at 6:30 p.m. Final events begin at 6:45 p.m.