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.