After taking the win in Atlanta, James Stewart explained the race’s importance. Said Stewart, “This week was critical. You can’t just let people come in there and take over your season after all the hard work you did. I wanted to try and gain those five points back, and we did a good job at it tonight. Maybe I could get a few more with Chad crashing out, but I don’t know how he got back up. I wish Timmy (Ferry) would have stayed up because I think he probably had the speed to beat him tonight. Overall, we salvaged enough points to keep us in the hunt, and we are 17 points up.”
Stewart returned home to Florida where he will work on corner speed before heading to St. Louis.
Ferry, after tangling bars off the start in Atlanta, was unable capture a fourth-consecutive podium finish. “I am satisfied with my performance, but it’s hard to finish on the podium three weeks in a row and then get sixth,” said Ferry. “The main thing is that I rode well. I just had some bad luck on the start, and I think that held me back from being able to challenge Chad for that third spot.”
Ferry added, “I am looking forward to St. Louis. I really didn’t enjoy the track this week (Atlanta); it was tricky. We have been use to hard, smooth surfaces and here it was all ruts. It was kind of a shock to everyone. The track was really narrow and I didn’t feel like I could get on it as much as I have been.”
Monster Energy/Pro Circuit/Kawasaki rider Ben Townley put on a great performance in Atlanta until a mechanical problem ended his night. “It was going really well,” he said. “I was watching my board, and I was doing good lap times. I was edging up little by little on the leader and wasn’t actually too worried because I knew that it was early in the race. I was just trying to make sure that I was going to be there in the end.”
Townley will spend the week at his home in Florida and will keep his training program consistent. “I will go back home and do the same thing I have been doing,” said Townley. “I was really happy with my mind set during the race; it was really relaxed. Things were going better than I had expected them to, and I was really sort of relaxed and enjoying the race. Obviously, I didn’t finish the race and that’s a big disappointment, but I learned a lot of things and improved on a lot of things during the day. So I just have to go back and do the same things this week. I want to go to St. Louis with the mindset that I can do it.”
Darcy Lange, who debuted his ride on the Monster Energy/Pro Circuit/Kawasaki team in Atlanta, was all smiles after taking home the second-place podium position. “It was pretty good out there,” said Lange. “I have already done seven races this year, and in arenacross you have to pass your way through the pack when you don’t get a good start. At the end when I caught up to (Matt) Goerke, he kind of let me by. I didn’t know if I was in second or third. When I came off the track I asked, how did I do, how did I do? And they told me I got second, I was so excited.”
Although Stewart has six AMA Supercross wins on the season and 17 in his career, he’s only picked up one $1,500 Progressive Direct Holeshot Award. Currently, Reed and Nick Wey, who is sidelined with an injured thumb, share the lead in this category with three each. In the Western Regional AMA Supercross Lites division, Kawasaki’s Ryan Villopoto and Chris Gosselaar sit atop the Progressive Direct leader board with two a piece.
Fifteen-time AMA Supercross/Motocross Champion Ricky Carmichael returned to Amp’d Mobile AMA Supercross last weekend at the Atlanta’s Georgia Dome and picked up a podium finish after having been on hiatus for three weeks. Carmichael is running an abbreviated racing schedule this year and, prior to Atlanta, his last race was his win in San Francisco.
“Taking a break from racing did affect me a bit in Atlanta,” said 2006 Amp’d Mobile AMA Supercross Series Champion Carmichael. “You have to have split-second timing and you’ve got to be on it. But it didn’t take me long to get back to it. This week, we’ve been testing the Makita Suzuki RM-Z450 in Florida and trying to button up the areas we needed to work on.”
Four-time AMA National Champion Jeff Emig, who now provides color commentary to the SPEED/CBS Sports broadcast of Amp’d Mobile Supercross, was very impressed with Carmichael’s Atlanta race.
“I was very impressed with Carmichael’s ride in Atlanta,” said Emig. “For Ricky to take time off from racing and still come back to challenge Stewart for the lead was almost God-like. James took it to the next level and jumped a very difficult section that Ricky was not willing to do. If that situation had not come about, the race for the lead would have potentially been even closer … not bad for a guy with one foot already out the door into retirement.”
This weekend’s St. Louis race is one of several Amp’d Mobile AMA Supercross races that Carmichael is participating in. He was excited to race in Atlanta, which is basically a home-town race for the Florida native. He’s just as eager to return to the Edward Jones Dome in St. Louis, however.
“I really enjoy racing in St. Louis,” said Carmichael, who didn’t finish last year’s race due to a suspension-related fluke. “I love the dirt, I love the stadium and I rode well there last year in spite of what happened and that’s why St. Louis is one of the races I chose to do.”
Makita Suzuki teammate Ivan Tedesco goes into St. Louis fresh off of two fourth-place AMA Supercross finishes: one in Atlanta last weekend and one in San Diego, the weekend prior. These are Tedesco’s best finishes so far this season.
“These last two weeks have been better for me,” said Tedesco. “After I got injured at Toronto in December, I was in kind of a slump that just snowballed in the wrong direction. I was struggling with everything. But at San Diego, I had a new mindset and that paid off again in Atlanta. I felt good, I felt comfortable on the Makita Suzuki RM-Z450 and I feel like it’s all working for me.”
Tedesco is a fan of the Edward Jones Dome and picked up his best finish of the 2006 season there with a second-place podium spot. This week, he’s been staying at his house in Texas, training and preparing for this weekend.
“I’ve been in Houston all week, working on getting my speed up and my endurance is coming around now. Being in Texas is great; it’s way mellow and I can be like a cowboy and live on a farm,” joked Tedesco.
In the AMA Supercross Lites class, newly signed Ryan Dungey made an impressive debut on his Makita Suzuki RM-Z250 by winning his first-ever professional Amp’d Mobile Supercross race in Atlanta last weekend. This week, 17-year-old Dungey has been training and getting ready for Saturday night’s race.
“Getting the win in Atlanta was a big relief,” said Dungey. “I wanted to get a good finish on the Makita Suzuki RM-Z250 and be consistent. I feel like I accomplished those goals. This definitely helps my confidence going into St. Louis.”
One of the milestones at St. Louis’ Edward Jones Dome is Emig’s first win in the premier AMA Supercross class. In dramatic fashion, Emig stopped Jeremy McGrath’s 13-race win streak on April 27, 1996.
When asked if St. Louis is a special place race for him, Emig replied: “Ah yes, St. Louis has been good to me. Winning the main event in 1996 was the biggest supercross win of my career. I was able to stop the season-long win streak by my arch rival Jeremy McGrath in what could be considered my hometown race; it was a dream come true.”
While Emig did have a successful 1996 season, 13 races passed before his confidence swelled enough to beat the all-time winningest supercross race in history.
“There were a couple of races that year that I thought I could have won before St. Louis, but it took all of my family, friends and fans from the Midwest to give me the boost of confidence to delegate McGrath to the second spot on the podium that night,” said Emig “It was the first time that I beat McGrath straight-up in an AMA Supercross, and it will always remain a special race in my heart.”
The following year, Emig’s race in St. Louis should be underscored in his championship campaign.
“In 1997, I came into St. Louis as the points leader,” said Emig. “I suffered a crash in Friday's practice session that left me with a severely bruised right leg. I thought for sure the race the next day and season were over for me. After the first practice on Saturday morning my leg muscles were in bad shape. I had reached a point where I had hit rock bottom, with two choices before me. The first one was to accept that my leg was in too bad of shape to race and give up the points lead, and most likely, the championship. or the second, to mentally overcome the pain brewing in my leg and go out and race to the best of my abilities, to earn as many points as I could towards the AMA Supercross championship. So, as with all champions, I dug deep, persevered through the pain and came away from St. Louis with a second place and 22 valuable championship points.”
Moving onto Emig’s new job in the booth. In the same sentence that Emig said SPEED/CBS Sports host Ralph Sheheen was a great mentor, he added that he’s one heck of a singer as well. The rookie color commentator realizes that the production of each race is as hard as being a competitor in the event.
“Mistakes happen, and you must put them behind you and get on with the show,” said Emig. “There are many challenges in putting together the supercross broadcasts, but the crew that I am fortunate to work with has been very helpful to me in learning the ropes. it has been a real pleasure so far to work with everyone from Live Nation, SPEED, CBS Sports, Bondo TV, and Larrison Productions. It takes a lot of work to prepare for each and every show and we truly work together as a team to bring the fans the best possible supercross experience that television will give them. Plus, I get to hang out with Erin Bates for two days a week, what racer wouldn’t like that?”
In closing, Emig analyzed Dungey’s AMA Supercross Lites début.
“Ryan Dungey was very impressive,” said Emig. “Obviously the players at Makita Suzuki sensed something special about this young man last summer, and Ryan did not disappoint. Ryan rides with a confidence and a calmness not usually found in a rookie. I believe part of this is in his nature and part of it has came from months of training and practicing with a team full of champions, riders and crew. It seems Ryan has put out the effort and done the work required to come to the first race with enough confidence in himself to win. This very well could be the start of a career that is influenced by the best of the best; one where the team doesn’t just concentrate on the rider at the top of the totem pole, and more importantly, one where the rider actually listens to the senior members and takes advantage of their knowledge in the sport of supercross. Ryan is for real and congratulations to him for living a dream and winning the first lites supercross of his career.”