Round 14 of 16
Irving, Texas
By John Basher

It finally happened! The showdown between Ricky Carmichael and Chad Reed for the entirety of a 20 lap main finally materialized on Saturday night in Dallas. After three months and thirteen rounds of racing, somehow and some way Carmichael and Reed started off in the top five together. With thousands of screaming fans on their feet, the foregone conclusion became apparent that this was certainly going to be a race to remember.


Sure enough, Dallas proved to be the war ground for two of the world?s fastest racers. Chad Reed cannot accept defeat from Carmichael this late in the supercross series, as Reed still has an outside shot at taking the title. Ricky Carmichael, on the other hand, can afford to finish second place to a blazing fast Reed and still wrap up the series. However, Ricky carries the demeanor of a true champion, in that Ricky hates to lose. In the three races post-Daytona, Chad Reed had the upper hand and came away the winner. Expressing true disdain for losing these past three rounds, Carmichael has been fighting an uphill battle for the past month. Holding a 25 point lead after ten rounds of racing is quite an accomplishment, but watching that lead dwindle down to 16 points in front of Ricky?s very own eyes is certainly a letdown. Could RC get that elusive win that he?s been waiting for since Daytona, or would Reed continue his winning streak?


Ricky Carmichael, who has been slow off the gate these past few weeks, got the start that he wanted for the first time since Daytona. Quickly passing holeshot ace Larry Ward, RC jumped out to the early lead in front of Ward, Nick Wey, and Chad Reed. Reed, who undoubtedly knows the severity of beating Carmichael in hopes of seizing the supercross crown from Carmichael, immediately moved into second place. For the next 14 laps of the race, the lead would change throttle hands between RC and CR nearly ten times. Reed would gain momentum through the slippery whoops and cut inside Ricky, only for RC to respond with a tight pass. In fact, the racing was so tight that a towel could have been thrown over them, it was just that close. The turning point in the race surely was when RC was following Reed through lappers, but had a dismal time passing Brock Sellards. Ricky, who claimed that Sellards was holding him up, could not mount any further successful attempts at passing Reed. While the top two riders had blitzed through the field of 20, Ernesto Fonseca and Nick Wey were battling for the final podium spot. Fonseca has been cleaning up the trail left by RC and CR these past three weekends, but was having trouble when dealing with Wey. With four laps to go, Wey passed Ernesto briefly, but the pass would only stick for a lap. Fonseca was able to pass Mach 1 Motorsports? Nick Wey on lap 17 and hold on to third place by race end.


Dallas has come to be the only race this season where Chad Reed and Ricky Carmichael have battled for the whole main event without one of them crashing. Many questions were answered on Saturday night; it is true that Chad Reed is for real, it is also true that the rest of the supercross series and the entire Nationals will come to be a great rivalry between RC and CR. It?s a wonder how the supercross season will shape up in 2004, with Reed now knowing that he can beat Ricky straight up, as well as the fact that all the factory riders will have a fresh new start. In a season filled with disappointment for many factory riders, you have to give it up to Reed and Carmichael for saving this years supercross series.   


Ricky Carmichael might be having a tough time in the 250 class with series contender Chad Reed, but the 125 West has been almost the exact opposite. James Stewart had been dominating when the supercross series headed east, and with more practice time and preparation, it was all Stewart all Saturday night. “Bubba” ran away with the show, and in effect, the 2003 125 West championship. What had eluded Stewart last year was not about to happen again, as James dominated the entire Dallas race and took home his first 125 supercross title.
Defending champ Travis Preston might have been a slight thorn in Stewart?s side, but run-in?s with Eric Sorby and Matt Walker have left him down and out. A move to the 250 class during the east portion of the series proved to be a valuable learning experience for the tall and lanky rider. While proving to be a strong 125 rider, Preston should be riding the 250 class full-time from now on in hopes of securing a podium finish before the Nationals. With second place locked up, Travis has decided to take the opportunity to race the last two rounds on the potent CRF450. As for James Stewart, he can only watch from the sidelines as Ricky, Chad, and Travis battle it out in Salt Lake City and Las Vegas. In fact, we probably won?t be able to catch a glimpse of Stewart on a 250 until possibly the last National (if he has the 125 championship wrapped up by Binghamton).


The only real battle left in the points race is for third place between Andrew Short and Matt Walker. Short has been a fairytale story this year, and taking third place away from Pro Circuit rider Matt Walker would be a huge step for Andrew. On the other side of the fence, Walker hasn?t won a supercross race like he did last year, but has proved that consistency can certainly bring benefits. Going into Salt Lake City, it?s a simple matter of if Short beats Walker then Short takes third, and vice versa. Rounding out the top five in Dallas was Chris “G?d Up” Gosselaar, who should be happy with a fifth place finish. After crashing on the opening lap, Gosselaar charged through the field and looked great. Not only that, but Chris could jump two spots up the points ladder by beating Eric Sorby at Salt Lake (seventh place rider Danny Smith is out with injury).

Congratulations to James Stewart for capturing his first supercross title and for winning his sixth race of the season. As for Chad Reed and Ricky Carmichael, the title will not be wrapped up until Las Vegas, so hold on to your seats and watch the action unfold these last two rounds!   

1. Chad Reed…Yam   
2. Ricky Carmichael…Hon   
3. Ernesto Fonseca…Hon   
4. Nick Wey…Yam   
5. Heath Voss…Yam   
6. Ivan Tedesco…Yam   
7. Larry Ward…Hon   
8. Brock Sellards…Yam   
9. Casey Lytle…Yam   
10. Jason Thomas…Hon

1. Ricky Carmichael…323
2. Chad Reed…310
3. Ernesto Fonseca…185
4. David Vuillemin…169
5. Nick Wey…169
6. Tim Ferry…163
7. Heath Voss…155
8. Ezra Lusk…149
9. Larry Ward…139
10. Keith Johnson…125

1. James Stewart…Kaw   
2. Travis Preston…Hon   
3. Matt Walker…Kaw   
4. Andrew Short…Suz   
5. Chris Gosselaar…Hon   
6. Josh Hansen…Yam   
7. Steve Mertens…Yam   
8. Jeremy Chaussee…Yam   
9. Troy Adams…Yam   
10. Tiger Lacey…Yam

1. James Stewart…172
2. Travis Preston…138
3. Andrew Short…110
4. Matt Walker…110
5. Billy Laninovich…101
6. Eric Sorby…81
7. Danny Smith…81
8. Chris Gosselaar…81
9. Josh Hansen…76
10. Sean Hamblin…65


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