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Bench Racing Ammo: RC vs. Bubba

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  • RC in 2002
  • Another perfect season in 2004
  • James comes across for moto victory #24
"It's pretty impressive, really. You don't ever see this that much in motorsports," said Tim Ferry, a longtime pro and James Stewart's Monster Kawasaki teammate, in an ESPN.com article last Friday about Stewart’s perfect summer. "He's winning by quite a bigger margin than Carmichael did. That's the most impressive thing. We're trying to get close to him, but he's still beating us by 30 to 40 seconds pretty consistently. Ricky had done it, but on a few occasions he barely won motos."

So who had the more impressive perfect season—Ricky Carmichael in ’02, Ricky Carmichael in ’04, or James Stewart in the 2008 AMA Toyota Motocross Championship? All three were masterpieces, all three ended with the champion scoring a maximum 600 points, winning all 24 motos and winning by a huge margin.

Let’s go back to 2002. Carmichael had just joined Team Honda and, after a slow start, he won the AMA Supercross title after catching a lucky break: midseason points leader David Vuillemin got hurt doing a photo shoot and had to sit out Daytona, dropping 25 points to RC, who eventually won by just 35.

Outdoors, Carmichael raced a factory Honda CR250 to all 24 moto wins and 12 overalls. The next-closest competitor? None other than Tim Ferry, who was riding a Yamaha factory YZ450F. Carmichael ended up with a 160-point lead, which amounts to more than six full motos.

Final Standings for 2002

1. Ricky Carmichael 600
2. Tim Ferry 440
3. Ezra Lusk 396
4. Sebastien Tortelli 359
5. Kyle Lewis 325

{LINKS}The ‘04 series and ’08 series are very similar in how they shaped up: both Carmichael and Stewart suffered knee injuries that knocked them out of defending their AMA Supercross titles, so they were coming in cold (or so everyone thought). Both RC and JS were about to switch teams, as Ricky was about to switch from Honda to Suzuki, and James is about to switch from Kawasaki to L&M. Both are from Florida, both wear Fox, both left broken records in their wake in the 125 class.

In 2004, Carmichael did not match his ’02 gap on second place. This time, he was only 124 points ahead of the runner-up, who just happened to be the newly crowned AMA Supercross Champion, Chad Reed. But many thought RC’s biggest competition wasn’t on the same starting gate—James Stewart was busy laying a nearly perfect season (23 for 24) in the 125 class.

Final Standings for 2004

1. Ricky Carmichael 600
2. Chad Reed 476
3. Kevin Windham 444
4. David Vuillemin 441
5. Ernesto Fonseca 300

In 2008, Stewart won by a remarkable 186 points over the very same Tim Ferry who started this whole exercise with the ESPN quote. Many thought his biggest competition wasn’t on the starting gate: the newly crowned AMA Supercross champ is again Chad Reed, though this time he sat out the summer, as did SX #2 Kevin Windham, and Ryan Villopoto was busy running away with the 250F title. Along the way, Stewart was aided by injuries to top talent like defending champ Grant Langston, Ben Townley, Ivan Tedesco, Mike Alessi, Broc Hepler and more. But he was so far in front of everyone else—at least on all but two occasions: the muddy Unadilla Moto 2 (Cody Cooper) and the pressure-fueled final moto at Steel City (good old Tim Ferry).

Final Standings for 2008

1. James Stewart 600
2. Tim Ferry 414
3. Andrew Short 392
4. Michael Byrne 377
5. Cody Cooper 266

So is Ferry correct? He did have a front-row seat to both the ’02 and ’08 masterpieces by Carmichael and Stewart, respectively. Regardless of what anyone thinks, we should appreciate all three efforts for being the complete works of motocross perfection that they are.

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