Ricky Carmichael secured his fifth consecutive AMA 250cc Motocross title on Sunday at Steel City Raceway, the Honda hero wrapping up the crown one round early after continuing his perfect winning streak - which now stands at 11 events.

However, Carmichael's win was just one of the highlights of a historic weekend of racing at Steel City which also saw James Stewart set a new record for all-time AMA 125cc wins, Supercross legend Jeremy McGrath make a hugely popular return to the series for the first time in over four years - and young gun Mike Alessi score his first podium finish, in only his second pro race.

Carmichael, as usual, was flawless. He led every lap of both 250-class motos after avoiding a first turn pile-up in race one - which claimed Chad Reed, McGrath, Alessi and others - then rocketing away to an easy win.

In the second outing, Reed hung with the 24-year-old for a few laps before steadily dropping away from the #4's rear wheel.

"This winter I just sat in front of the TV watching supercross and dreaming about getting back to this point," said Carmichael, who sat out this winter's AMA Supercross Series after having knee surgery. "I want to thank everyone who helped me get to this point. Winning five straight 250 championships is something I never imagined I could do when I started racing."

Carmichael is the only rider in AMA racing history to win five straight motocross titles. In 2002 he also became the only one to go an entire season undefeated. If Carmichael wins the final round of the championship next Sunday in San Bernardino, he will complete an incredible second perfect season.

Meanwhile, Kevin Windham scored his seventh podium of the year with 2-3 finishes, and so closed to within six points of Reed for second in the standings.

But a bigger shock was the performance of Alessi, who finally 'delivered the hype' by claiming third overall. In the first moto the Honda rider came back from the first lap pile-up to finish fifth, while in the second he ran as high as third before being chased down by Windham just before the halfway point. His finish gave Honda a sweep of the 250 podium.

"It's awesome to be up here with these guys," said Alessi, sounding a little more humble than he had before his ill-fated pro debut at Millville. "I didn't want that crash in the first moto to ruin my day again like it did at Millville a few weeks ago so I gave it everything I had to come back. I was pretty exhausted by the second moto."

Meanwhile, McGrath's return got off to a dramatic start with the first turn pile-up, but 'MC' - riding a Honda 450F - would recover for 15th by the flag, before running as high as fourth for a couple of laps in the second moto - much to the delight of the 21,174 Steel City fans.

Unfortunately, his bike then developed mechanical problems and Jeremy pulled out of the race. As a result, McGrath would be credited with 20th overall and so can keep his #3 plate for another year.

In the 125cc class, James Stewart once again took his factory Kawasaki two-stroke to victory and in doing so became the all-time wins leader in AMA 125 Motocross. Stewart now has 27-career wins, surpassing Ricky Carmichael.

Stewart, who wrapped up the championship two weeks ago in Binghamton, then gave the surprise announcement that he will ride a Kawasaki KX250F four-stroke in the series finale at Glen Helen next week.

"I wanted to make sure I got the 125 wins record," he said. "Now that I have that I've done what I set out to do. With the big hills at Glen Helen I figured it would be a good time to try out the four-stroke. I'll need the power."

Local favorite Broc Hepler was second overall with a 3-5 on his factory Suzuki, while Troy Adams went 7-3 aboard a Team WBR Kawasaki to take third overall and his first AMA Motocross podium.

The AMA Motocross season concludes with the championship finale in San Bernardino next Sunday.