Retro night at Anaheim is about to get started and, so far, it’s looking good. The pits are filled with JT jerseys, Motley Crue concert tees, fanny packs and girls with big hair. It’s totally radical. Best costume award has to go to Erin Bates who looks like she just rolled off the set of a Cindy Lauper video shoot.
The track itself looks great. The sand that was brought in is creating bumps, berms and alternate lines, just like the track that Bailey and RJ dueled on 21 years ago. Some of the sections are strange, uneven obstacles that almost look like they were taken from a Gary Bailey design at Daytona. There is also a 75-foot triple (huge!), a right-hand first turn and a big sand section to challenge riders. The racing should be insane.
In practice, Chad Reed put down the fastest lap times in both sessions, followed by Stewart, Langston, Hill and Short. The top-five order was the same in both practice sessions. Something strange was going on today with James Stewart. The Monster Energy/Kawasaki rider put down some decent laps and then pulled in to the pits in the middle of both practice sessions. Reed was able to best his times in both sessions, relegating James to the second spot. Nothing is wrong with the Kawasaki rider, according to his camp, but it was odd that he pulled off the track both times. If something is ailing him, we’ll know soon enough when the gate drops.
In the Lites class, Jason Lawrence notched the fastest time. However, Dungey, Hepler, Stroupe, Brayton, Weimer, Metcalfe and Reardon were all close in lap times. As the sand sections develop and roughen-up there will be riders making mistakes all over the place. The multi-rider battle we saw in Phoenix last weekend could very well continue tonight here in Anaheim.
Ricky Carmichael and Jeremy McGrath also did a handful of laps today to prepare for their part in the opening ceremonies tonight. MC threw down a nac-nac over the triple and Carmichael jumped through a rhythm section after the finish line in two big leaps, a line that only Stewart and Reed were able to duplicate. RC could easily line up tonight and land on the podium. Be sure to watch the race tomorrow on Speed at 6:00 P.M. EST!