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Carmichael on verge of 100th AMA victory
16 June 2004
Ricky Carmichael is poised to reach an historic milestone this Sunday at Budds Creek, where the 24-year-old Honda rider could win his 100th AMA pro race.
Carmichael is undefeated in all three races of the 2004 Outdoor season, despite the 10-time AMA champion making a comeback after knee surgery, and having missed the entire AMA Supercross Series while recovering. In addition, RC has been riding a four-stroke Honda for the first time after racing two-stroke race bikes the first seven years of his pro career.
"This season has been fun so far," smiled Ricky, due to join Suzuki at the end of this season. "I feel like I'm still learning things everyday, especially on the new four-stroke. It's hard to believe I'm this close to getting my 100th win. It doesn't seem possible really. Being the first rider in AMA history to reach that mark would be very special to me."
Last year Carmichael passed the legendary Jeremy McGrath - who had 89 combined AMA Supercross and Motocross wins - to become the leader in the combined wins category. No other rider in AMA history has won 100 races: Scott Parker, nine-time Grand National Dirt Track Champion, amassed 94 Grand National victories in his career.
Carmichael, the defending and four-time AMA 250 Motocross Champion, is coming into this Sunday's race with a four-race winning streak at Budds Creek. The track, built in a small valley creating a natural amphitheater for fans, is often one of the most grueling of the season due to the late June heat and humidity in Southern Maryland – another factory likely to help the ultra-fit Carmichael reach his goal.
The Floridian has built a 26-point lead over Chad Reed and Kevin Windham, who are tied for second in the championship chase.
Reed is coming off a second-place finish on his factory Yamaha last Sunday in Southwick and the Aussie, who is the reigning AMA Supercross Champion, admits he is among the AMA series regulars who haven't figured out how to deal with Carmichael's pace yet this summer.
"Ricky's probably one of the most dedicated riders our sport has ever seen," Reed said. "I respect him a lot for returning to racing as strong as he has. I'm training very hard to be able to match his pace. Right now I'm just hoping to stay close enough to him to give him a challenge. That'll be the next step, but obviously at this point that's a big step."
While Carmichael is dominating the 250 class, young James Stewart is trying to write some history of his own in the 125 class. Like his fellow Floridian Carmichael, Stewart is undefeated coming into Budds Creek and he's been dominating the smaller class just like Carmichael, with the possible exception of his starts.
"I've been terrible off the starting gate this year," Stewart admitted. "That's something I definitely need to figure out. I'm happy with the rest of my riding, but I know that bad starts could cost me at some point this season so I'm going to get that turned around."
While poor starts are a bother to Stewart, it has been a bonus to fans that have been fortunate to witness the 18-year-old Kawasaki phenom at his finest working his magic as he slices his way through the field in the early laps.
Stewart is chasing Carmichael's record of 26 AMA 125 Motocross wins. Stewart admits that he enjoys putting his mark in the record book. Interestingly, Stewart's career so far almost exactly mirrors Carmichael's.
Starting just his third season in the pros, Stewart already has 20-career wins – just one more than Carmichael had at the same point in his career... but keep in mind that Stewart missed four rounds last year with a shoulder injury.
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