In what was dubbed the most anticipated Supercross race ever, Ricky Carmichael has won his fifth AMA Supercross championship by just 2-points from World Supercross GP title winner James Stewart and Chad Reed.
Heading into Saturday night's Las Vegas season finale, Suzuki star Carmichael and Yamaha rider Reed were tied at the top of the AMA standings, with Kawasaki's Stewart just five-points behind - but holding a commanding 12-point advantage in the less prestigious world championship.
In the last main event of the season, man-of-the-moment Stewart earned the $1,500 Progressive Direct Holeshot Award as he held off Honda's Kevin Windham through turn one. Behind them, Carmichael had exited the first corner in fourth place, but moved into second - the position he needed to secure the title - on lap two, with Reed third.
As at many events this season, Stewart remained out of touch up front - while Reed was unable to get close enough to make a championship winning pass on Carmichael.
"I kept saying to myself there is no way Chad (Reed) is beating me tonight," said Carmichael who, in a pre-race press conference, announced that this would be his last full year of racing. "He beat me last weekend in Seattle heads up, and I was not going to let it happen. This has been a team effort; we had a lot of adversity this season and we over came it. I had a heck of a career, and I wanted to go on top."
"We went through a tough year, and I was down in the dumps, but I came on strong at the end of the season and learned a lot," said Stewart, who finished 15-points clear of 2005 champion Carmichael in the SX GP series, which consisted of the AMA championship (minus Daytona) plus two season-opening rounds in Canada . "Winning this World Supercross GP championship is awesome, and I take my hat off to Ricky for winning his championship."
In the Dave Coombs Sr. East/West Shootout, Kawasaki rookie Ryan Villopoto earned the holeshot award with Honda's Andrew Short one wheel behind in second place through turn one. KTM's Mike Alessi then moved into the lead as the pack negotiated their way through the rhythm section, while Villopoto crashed on lap one and remounted in last place.
Short and his championship winning team-mate Davi Millsaps passed Alessi on lap two and held down the top two positions, respectively. But on lap eight Millsaps crashed, allowing Short to ride away with his second Dave Coombs Sr. East/West Shootout and a 2006 Toyota Tundra truck. Alessi finished a season-best second place with Honda's Thomas Hahn third.
"My first win in 2003 was pretty good but this one was even better," said Short. "Maybe some of us west coast riders had a little advantage (racing in the outdoor-like stadiums). It was good to race against the riders on the east coast. In was looking forward to racing with my team-mate Davi Millsaps but he had some bad luck."
The AMA stars will now turn their attention to the Outdoor Motocross championships, which start at Sacramento on May 21.
Amp'd Mobile AMA Supercross Series Event Results, Las Vegas:
1. James Stewart, Haines City, Fla., Kawasaki
2. Ricky Carmichael, Havana, Fla., Suzuki
3. Chad Reed, Dade City, Fla., Yamaha
4. Kevin Windham, Centerville, Miss., Honda
5. Travis Preston, Hesperia, Calif., Honda
6. Nicholas Wey, Dewitt, Mich., Honda
7. Ivan Tedesco, Murrieta, Calif., Suzuki
8. Josh Demuth, Grapevine, Texas, Honda
9. Brock Sellards, Sherrodsville, Ohio, Honda
10. Heath Voss, Mico, Texas, Yamaha
Amp'd Mobile AMA Supercross Series Season Standings:
1. Ricky Carmichael, Tallahassee, Fla., Suzuki, 338
2. James Stewart, Haines City, Fla., Kawasaki, 336
3. Chad Reed, Dade City, Fla., Yamaha, 336
4. Ivan Tedesco, Murrieta, Calif., Suzuki, 255
5. Nicholas Wey, Dewitt, Mich., Honda, 249
6. Michael Byrne, Murrieta, Calif., Kawasaki, 228
7. Travis Preston, Hesperia, Calif., Honda, 207
8. Ernesto Fonseca, Murrieta, Calif., Honda, 125
9. Ryan Clark, Waddell, Ariz., Honda, 118
10. Mike LaRocco, Corona, Calif., Honda, 108
Amp'd Mobile World Supercross GP Season Standings:
1. James Stewart, Tallahassee, Fla., Kawasaki, 380
2. Ricky Carmichael, Havana, Fla., Suzuki, 365
3. Chad Reed, Dade City, Fla., Yamaha, 354
4. Ivan Tedesco, Murrieta, Calif., Suzuki, 292
5. Nicholas Wey, Dewitt, Mich., Honda, 286
6. Michael Byrne, Murrieta, Calif., Kawasaki, 259
7. Jason Thomas, Melrose, Fla., Honda, 193
8. Jeff Gibson, Blacklick, Ohio,, Honda, 188
9. Ryan Clark, Waddell, Ariz., Honda, 185
10. Tyler Evans, Corona, Calif., Suzuki, 138
Dave Coombs Sr. East/West Shootout:
1. Andrew Short, Murrieta, Calif., Honda
2. Mike Alessi, Apple Valley, Calif., KTM
3. Thomas Hahn, Decatur, Texas, Honda
4. Josh Grant, Riverside, Calif., Honda
5. Ryan Morais, Temecula, Calif., Suzuki
6. Ryan Villopoto, Poulsbo, Wash., Kawasaki
7. Darcy Lange, San Jacinto, Calif., Kawasaki
8. Bobby Kiniry, Lafayette, N.Y., Honda
9. Kyle Partridge, Las Vegas, Nev., Yamaha
10. Justin Brayton, Fort Dodge, Iowa,