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Windham hoping to halt Carmichael at Unadilla
15 July 2004
It was at Unadilla one year ago that Kevin Windham stopped Ricky Carmichael and the longest winning streak in AMA Motocross history and this weekend the Factory Connection Honda rider finds himself heading into the event in a similar situation.
The 2003 Unadilla battle between Windham and Carmichael was one of the most exciting AMA Motocross races in the history of the series. An enthusiastic crowd of fans mobbed Windham after he took the chequered flag and the win.
A year later and Carmichael is again in the midst of another long winning streak and many feel that Windham is one of the few riders capable of stopping the defending four-times AMA 250 Motocross champ.
On Sunday the top motocross racers from across the country will converge on the tiny burg of New Berlin, New York, for the Lucas Oil Pro Motocross Nationals, round six of the 12-race AMA Chevrolet Motocross Championship.
Carmichael is nearly halfway to matching his historic 2002 campaign where he went undefeated the entire season. Since switching to Honda's four-stroke motocross race bike, the CRF450R, the Floridian has been even more dominant than he was two years ago on a two-stroke.
An example of just how strong he's been since making his comeback from knee surgery this winter came at the last round in Buchanan, Michigan: RC won by margins of 42 and 30-seconds in the pair of 250 motos, but he still tries to find areas of improvement.
"Over the last two weeks, I just did my thing like these guys," Carmichael explained. "They're trying to pick up the pace, and so am I. I look at areas where I think they're better than I am, and that's where I try to capitalize. I'm always trying to improve."
Windham is coming off a runner-up finish to Carmichael and is in a heated battle with AMA Supercross champ Chad Reed for second in the series. Windham's victory last season is still fresh on his mind and he's looking forward to getting back to the hilly, natural terrain of Unadilla.
“I had a great race there last year and the fans were really on my side,” Windham said. “It's seems right now that it's going to be tough for anyone to beat Ricky, but I think Unadilla is a good track for me and I'll do my best and see how it comes out. I've got to work on coming out of the gate ready to race. We can't let Ricky open up a lead so early in the race. It's just too tough to chase him down.”
Carmichael and Windham will be the only former Unadilla winners in the 250 class, with Ricky shooting for his fourth win at the historic circuit.
Meanwhile, in the 125cc ranks Kawasaki's James Stewart will attempt to become the first three-time Unadilla 125 winner.
However, the series leader is coming off his first motocross loss this year when a first turn pile-up, a further fall and subsequent clutch damage in the second moto at Red Bud on July 4, caused Stewart to retire from the race and cost him his chance at a perfect season.
Boost Mobile Yamaha's Mike Brown was in the right place at the right time in Michigan, and was able to take advantage of Stewart's unlucky break for his first victory in over a year. Brown, who is 31 points behind Stewart in the 125 standings, is looking to earn his first victory at Unadilla.
New York fans will have a number of home state riders to root for with veteran Bruce Stratton, of Clifton Springs, racing a limited schedule in the series, but having already scored a solid 15th-place finish in Southwick a month ago. Stratton feels at home at Unadilla and will be aiming for a top-10 finish.
In the 125 ranks New York riders Ryan Mills, Paul Carpenter and Brian Gray are all threats to score podium finishes. Mills has already scored a top-10 result this year on his Amsoil/Chaparral Honda, is ranked 12th nationally and hoping to improve on his standing with a good result this weekend.
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