Ricky Carmichael comes to the 2005 Daytona Supercross a man on a mission: On Friday night, March 11, the 25-year-old Floridian will attempt to become the first rider to win five times at the historic AMA Supercross event.

And the omens look good. Carmichael is currently experiencing his best season ever in the AMA Supercross Series. The Makita Suzuki rider has won seven of the nine rounds and earned his 40th-career victory last weekend in St. Louis. In turn, RC has built a 35-point lead over defending series champ and Daytona winner Chad Reed. Daytona is the one race that Carmichael always circles on his calendar.

"I love Daytona, I think everybody knows that," said the four-time Daytona Supercross winner. "I've done well there and I think only good things can happen there. I look forward to it. When I go to Daytona I have a special feeling. I'm just really confident going there and I definitely feel I can win. Let's just say that there's not too much pressure on me when I go there."

If Ricky wins the 35th running of the race he will pass former Honda great Jeff Stanton as the all-time Daytona wins leader. Stanton won at Daytona four years in a row from 1989 to 1992 and Jeff, who helped coach Carmichael in the past, is philosophical about his record being broken.

"Supercross, like everything else, is a big circle of life," said Stanton. "Riders like Bob Hannah and Rick Johnson were the stars there before me, I had my time and now it's time for a new generation of riders to have their time in the sun. Ricky's a great champion and if the Daytona record is going to be broken I can't think of a rider who deserves it more."

Daytona is the oldest Supercross race in the AMA series. It began on the back section of the track in 1971, which pre-dates the actual formation of the AMA Supercross Series. The 2005 race will mark the second year in a row that the race is being held on Friday night, a very popular move with fans. Additional lighting has been brought in to benefit both the riders and spectators.

While Carmichael is favoured to win this year's race, Yamaha's Chad Reed is hoping to start a winning streak of his own at Daytona. He says there will be a few changes to his Yamaha for Daytona - the longest and most gruelling race on the AMA Supercross circuit - but nothing drastic.

"Even though it's a lot longer track, I think Daytona has become more like a typical Supercross as far as the track layout is concerned," said Reed, who also won the 125 East race at Daytona in 2002. "Ricky is tough there no doubt, but I think I'm prepared for the race."

Interestingly, the Gary Bailey-designed circuit will be different than past Daytona layouts. Constructed within Daytona's famous tri-oval, this year's track has been shortened and will feature a completely new starting gate area. Lap times should be shorter and fans seated in the main grandstand will have a better view of the racing action.

However, one thing that has not changed is that a win at Daytona only comes to the fittest, most well prepared riders. The course is famous for its challenging obstacles and punishing track surface and that remains a hallmark. Careers are made by winning at Daytona.

Other top riders at Daytona will include Kevin Windham and Mike LaRocco. Both Honda-mounted riders are battling for third in the series point standings. Windham has twice finished runner-up at the circuit and would like nothing more than to finally break through and earn his first win, but he knows many things have to go right to win the rugged race.

"I definitely want to be up there at Daytona," said Windham. "It's a tough field of riders and a tough environment. Daytona puts a mid-season twist on the Supercross season. In my 11 years of pro racing I've yet to see the track duplicated. That makes it hard to prepare for. We know what to expect going in, but it's so difficult to say that you are truly prepared for Daytona. I feel like I'm getting healthy again and I'd love to inch up on Chad and Ricky with a good performance at Daytona."

Meanwhile, South African Grant Langston leads the AMA 125 East Supercross Series coming into Daytona. At Daytona the Team Monster/Pro Circuit/Kawasaki rider is going for his third straight series victory and is happy at how he's holding off the young guns of the series.

"I always knew I'd be competitive," said Langston, a former AMA 125 Motocross Champion. "I was a little nervous coming into this season because it seems every year some youngster comes in and steps it up. Daytona is going to be an important race. It's one of those races where you always like to do well."

Makita Suzuki's Davi Millsaps, who won the opening round of the series in Indianapolis, is second in the 125 East standings, seven-points down to Langston. Red Bull KTM's Josh Hansen is third in the series and will be aiming to give KTM its first Daytona 125 win.