Championship Picture Changing Coming into Thunder Valley

A dramatic turn of events last weekend in New Berlin, New York, gave the 2007 AMA Toyota Motocross Championship presented by FMF an entirely new outlook as the series kicks off the second half of the season. The series now moves to Lakewood, Colo., and the Thunder Valley Motocross Park on July 21-22, for the Toyota Trucks Pro Motocross Nationals Presented by Division 7.

James Stewart, the rider most expected to take control of the championship in the absence of Ricky Carmichael, suffered a hard crash last weekend, and was forced to sit out both motos on Sunday. That left the door wide open for the other riders in the series and it was veteran Kevin Windham who took the victory on his Sobe/No Fear/Samsung Honda. It marked the first AMA Motocross win for Windham in nearly four years.

With Stewart out it also gave the rest of the field a chance to close the gap in the championship. As the series comes to round seven at Thunder Valley, Ricky Carmichael, who won the first five rounds, but is only riding part time as he moves into stock-car racing, still leads the championship with 241 points. Stewart is second with 225. Monster Energy Kawasaki’s Tim Ferry, who finished second last week at Unadilla, is now third in the series with 204 points.

With Carmichael not attending and Stewart questionable for this weekend, there’s a possibility that the AMA Motocross Championship could see a new series leader at Thunder Valley.

However, on Tuesday Kawasaki announced that Stewart will attempt to race this weekend.

 “Each day I feel better and better,” said Stewart. “My mobility has gotten a lot better and I think if it continues going this way, I will be ready for this weekend.”

Team Manager Mike Fisher added, “Our team goal is to be out there this weekend ready to race. And although that is our focus right now, the safety of our riders will always come first. If James is not feeling race-ready on Sunday, we will have to look at our options.”

Stewart plans to ride practice at Thunder Valley in order to secure a qualifying position for the motos. How he feels during the practice session will determine whether or not he will line up for the race.

Colorado native Andrew Short will be a fan favorite at Lakewood. Short, who raced at Thunder Valley during his amateur days, would love nothing better than to win in front of his home fans. He rides for Honda.

While the picture is in flux in the premier class, the championship battle couldn’t be tighter in AMA Motocross Lites.

Ben Townley’s victory last week tied the Lites championship. Townley and Monster Energy/Pro Circuit Kawasaki teammate Ryan Villopoto each have 263 points, 48 points clear of third-ranked Josh Grant. Townley has a slight edge on race wins with three victories so far to Villopoto’s two, but it’s the defending champ who has been a tad more consistent this year and is tied in spite of having a rock damage his radiator last weekend, ending his first moto in a DNF.

“We are six races into this and here we are tied up, so it is like a six race championship,” Townley said. “Ryan having the DNF was a huge help for me in the points race. I have got to go back and keep working. I didn’t take any time off the last two weeks. I am just tying to work on little things and I want to win this championship. We are so close and I will need every point I can get.”

Earlier in the season, both Townley and Villopoto were quoted as saying that their championship battle would likely go to the final race. With the series tied at the halfway point, that prediction is looking more and more accurate.

The AMA Motocross race from Lakewood will air on SPEED on Sunday, July 29, at 6:00 pm Eastern. The Lites class can be seen on Tuesday, July 31 at 3:00 pm.
For more information on the Toyota Trucks Pro Motocross Nationals Presented by Division 7 contact Thunder Valley Motocross Park at (303) 679-1003 or visit the website

WHAT: Toyota Trucks Pro Motocross Nationals Presented by Division 7 at Thunder Valley Motocross Park, round seven of the 12-round AMA Toyota Motocross Championship presented by FMF.
WHERE: Thunder Valley is located 15 minutes west of Denver off I-70.
WHEN: July 21-22, 2007
COURSE: 1.2 miles (approx), hard pack and sand.
2006 WINNERS:  AMA Motocross: Ricky Carmichael (Suzuki). AMA Motocross Lites: Ryan Villopoto (Kawasaki).
SCHEDULE: Saturday - Pro timed qualifying, 1:00-4:35 pm., Lites Consolation Race 4:45 pm; Sunday - Pro Motocross Consolation Race 9:15 am. Qualifying 10:00 am. Opening Ceremonies begin at 12:30 pm with final events beginning at 1 pm.