The Monster Energy Nice N Easy Pro National Presented by Renegade Haulers will see James Stewart trying to overcome the spate of bad luck he’s suffered at Unadilla over the last couple of seasons. In 2005 Stewart had a collision with Ricky Carmichael as the two battled for the lead. Last year Stewart suffered a high-speed crash during morning practice and missed the race altogether. This year Stewart is the pre-race favorite to win his first national of the season aboard his Monster Energy Kawasaki.
Series leader Ricky Carmichael will not race at Unadilla. The defending champion is transitioning into a NASCAR racing career and is slated to race only one more national this summer on his Makita Suzuki. This will mark the first Unadilla without Carmichael in 10 years.
Stewart said he’ll approach Unadilla no differently than any other race in spite of the fact that his biggest rival will not be on the line.
“It’s going to be different without Ricky there,” Stewart said. “It took me awhile in Supercross to get used to it and now I’m going to have to do it outdoors. I’m going to focus like I always do. I don’t think I’ll ride any differently.”
Stewart, who is 16-points behind Carmichael in the championship, should take over the series lead with a good performance at Unadilla. If he does take the series lead it would mark the second time Stewart has led the series. He won the opening round in 2006 and held the series lead for one week. Stewart is a three-time Unadilla Motocross Lites winner, but will be seeking his first win in the premier class.
Kawasaki last won the premier event at Unadilla since 2001.
The big question is whether or not any rider can step up to challenge Stewart in the second half of the season. His teammate Tim Ferry comes into Unadilla ranked third in the standings. He’s holding off a group of riders hoping to try to intensify the series and challenge Stewart in Carmichael’s absence. Honda’s Andrew Short, Yamaha’s Grant Langston and Red Bull KTM’s Mike Alessi are closely grouped together just behind Ferry in the standings.
Kevin Windham has a good history at Unadilla. He beat Carmichael heads up in the 2003 race there. The veteran Sobe No Fear/Samsung Honda rider is very fast on the high speed rolling hills of the Unadilla Valley Sports Center.
Defending Unadilla Motocross Lites winner Ryan Villopoto leads the class again this year coming into Sunday’s race. He’s involved in a good championship race with Monster Energy/Pro Circuit Kawasaki teammate Ben Townley. Both riders have two national wins so far this season.
“It’s good to have the momentum, but I know Ben’s going to come back at Unadilla and will be going just as fast has he was earlier in the season, Villopoto said. “We’re probably going to get back to having the battles like we’ve had all season.”
Townley said he is anxious to get into the meat of the summer’s racing schedule.
“It’s tough being beaten four motos in a row,” said Townley. “I want to get back on track and start winning again. I’m looking forward to racing the three weekends in a row starting with Unadilla. It’s going to be a major factor in the championship.”
Unadilla is one of the most historic venues in the AMA Toyota Motocross Championship. The track, considered the most European of the American tracks, has hosted United States Grand Prix races and was the track where the U.S. first hosted the Motocross of Nations in 1987. After 20 years the prestigious international event is coming back to America, at Budds Creek, Md., this September.
This year marks the 35th Anniversary of the first AMA National held at Unadilla. Gary Jones won that first race in 1972.
The Unadilla Motocross race will be televised on SPEED on Saturday, July 21 at 8:00 pm eastern. Motocross Lites will air on Tuesday, July 24 at 3:00 pm.
WHAT: The 2007 FMF Monster Energy Nice N Easy Pro National Presented by Renegade Haulers, round six of the AMA Toyota Motocross Championship presented by FMF.
WHERE: The Unadilla Valley Sports Center complex is located 5 miles North of New Berlin, N.Y., at 5986 State Route 8
WHEN: July 14-15, 2007.
COURSE: 1.7 miles (approx), rich, rocky, dark loamy dirt.
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.