James Stewart has been competing in the AMA Motocross championships for less than three years, but already the 18-year-old from Haines City, Florida, is making an indelible mark on the AMA record books...
This past weekend in Millville, Stewart tied the legendary Mark Barnett for second on the AMA 125cc Motocross all-time wins list and this Sunday, August 22, Stewart could tie Ricky Carmichael atop the 125 wins list if he takes the win at Broome-Tioga Sports Center near Binghamton, New York. The race is round 10 of the 12-round series.
But while Stewart is chasing Carmichael's 125 record, Carmichael continues to rack up win after win in the 250 class. The Honda ace is now undefeated in nine races this year and is three-quarters of the way to yet another perfect season. RC comes to Binghamton with the confidence of winning there for the last four years.
“I'm looking forward to racing at Binghamton,” said Ricky. “I've won a lot of races there and everything is going really well for me at the moment.”
When asked if the pressure of completing yet another perfect season is building, Carmichael said it wasn't a major issue: “I've already set that record, so there's not nearly the pressure there was in 2002. The championship is my focus. One thing is for sure, winning the championship pays you a lot more than having an undefeated season.”
Carmichael needs only to win the final three rounds at Binghamton, Delmont and San Bernardino to earn his second unblemished record.
Joining Carmichael as the only other former 250 winner at Binghamton is fellow Honda rider Kevin Windham, who won the race in 1999. The Mississippi-based rider comes into this weekend ranked third, just seven points down to Yamaha's Chad Reed. Reed suffered a hard crash last week in Millville and his status for Binghamton is unknown.
Meanwhile, the race for the AMA 125 championship will very likely come to a conclusion this weekend. Stewart, who has won eight of the ten races leading up to Binghamton, needs only to finish second or better in one of the two 125 motos Sunday to clinch the 2004 title. It would mark his second 125 AMA Chevrolet Motocross Championship.
It could be a very historic weekend for Stewart with the championship and the all-time wins record on the line.
“Tying Mark is a real honour for me,” said Stewart after winning at Millville Sunday. “He helps build the supercross tracks now and I teased him a lot about getting his record this winter. I feel good about my chances of tying Ricky next week. I like racing at Binghamton and it's no secret that I'd like to become the all-time wins leader so it's definitely a goal of mine.”
Barnett earned his 25 victories over a six-year period. Carmichael needed to move back to the 125 class after wrapping up the 250 title in 2001 to beat Barnett's record, so that pushed him to a four-year timeframe to set the 125 wins record. Stewart can set the record in just three years.
Making the run at the record even more impressive is the fact that Stewart missed almost the entire first third of last season due to injury and is still on the verge of tying the all-time mark.