Bench Racing Ammo:  Drive for Five

Bench Racing Ammo Drive for Five

March 15, 2012 1:25pm
This weekend, Justin Barcia aims for his fifth-straight win to open the Lites East Regional Championship. Many are buzzing about a perfect season from Barcia, but he has a long way to go since the Las Vegas finale includes the final rounds of the East and West Regions—so Barcia will have to win nine, not the typical eight, races to be perfect. And then the Dave Coombs Sr. East/West Shootout comes up right after that!

So Barcia would really have to win ten races to go undefeated for the year, which is a tall order. In fact, doing just half of that isn’t very easy, if history is an indicator.

For this week’s Bench Racing Ammo, we dug through the entire history of the AMA 125/Lites Regional Championship to see how many times a rider started the season with five-straight victories. The class started in 1985, which makes this the 28th season of racing, and two regions each season, which makes for 56 separate championships. How many started with a five-race streak? Let’s have a look:

IT suffered one loss during the 2004 West Regional Lites series.
Photo: Simon Cudby

-- 2004: Ivan Tedesco wins the first five West Regional rounds before being defeated by Nathan Ramsey at round six in San Francisco. That loss would be IT’s only defeat in the West that year.

-- 2004: James Stewart logs similar domination back east, winning the first five races before knocking himself out in practice at Indianapolis. Josh Hansen won the race, but like Tedesco, Stewart wouldn’t lose another East Regional race all year. Stewart also won the East/West Shootout.

-- 2002: Chad Reed came oh-so-close to perfection, winning the first six East Regional rounds before being edged by Branden Jesseman at the east finale, round seven in Pontiac, Michigan. Reed started way back but nearly caught Jesseman on the last lap. Reed also lost the East/West Shootout to Stewart.

-- 1999: Ernesto Fonseca blasted onto the pro scene by winning the first five 125 supercross races he ever entered. That’s a record that still stands! Ernie lost round six in Pontiac but won the rest of the East Regional races that year. He didn’t win the shootout, though.

It was a near perfect season for Chad Reed (center) in 2002.
Photo: Simon Cudby

-- 1998: We mentioned this one last week, as Ricky Carmichael logged the only perfect season in SX history by going eight-for-eight in the East Regional. He then also won the Shootout, so make that nine-for-nine.

-- 1995: Damon Huffman is one of the all-time greats of 125 SX, taking the 1994 West Regional title and then claiming the first six rounds in 1995. This was especially tough because, back in those days, races in the center of the country (such as Dallas and Houston) were East/West rounds, with the same stacked field as the Shootout. Huff-daddy’s streak included two East/West wins, but his streak ended in San Jose, California…by our own David Pingree!

(Those East/West races often wreaked havoc on streaks. In 1991 and 1992, the East Regional riders kicked off the season in Orlando, and round two featured an East/West race in Houston. Both times, West Regional contender Jeremy McGrath struggled against the East riders, who already had a race under their belt. MC then ran off huge win streaks starting with the second western rounds.

Ernesto Fonseca still holds the record for consecutive wins to begin a career with five.
Photo: Karl Ockert

A similar fate jacked up Denny Stephenson in 1990, as he had a big crash at the East Regional opener in Houston (which was round two of the 1990 series, the West riders had kicked off the tour a week earlier in Anaheim). Denny came back to win eight-straight East Regional races after that.)

So that’s all. Only six times in 56 tries has a rider won the first five rounds of a 125/Lites championship. Will Barcia complete the drive for five this weekend?