by John Basher

What can be better than one great weekend of supercross racing to start the new season? Try two bar-banging weekends of racing with surprise winners at each event! At Anaheim, Chad Reed lead from nearly start to finish in his most remarkable feat since hitting the States last year. Round two at Phoenix was thought to be another Reed win, but with only two laps remaining, Team Kawasaki rider Ezra Lusk snuck by the Yamaha rider for his first win since 1999 (Indianapolis, round 15).

Where has Ezra been all this time? After changing teams last season from Honda to Kawasaki, Lusk has been adapting to the KX and has finally made it pay off by winning Phoenix. Saturday night proved that Kawasaki did have a hidden ace up their sleeve after the they chose to keep Lusk as the sole 250 rider and James Stewart as their 125 guy. It kind of makes you wonder if the factories will dump their second and third string riders and concentrate their efforts on one main 250 rider and also a 125 rider.

So far things look to be positive for Kawasaki, as their two riders (Lusk and Stewart) are fourth and first respectively in their classes. The answer to the question is that factory teams would be taking a huge gamble at placing trust in only two riders, because if one rider ends up injured then that bike manufacturer cannot truly represent their product in an event. Let’s face it, there are unforeseen risks in supercross that are out of a riders grasp, and one wrong move could put a rider in plaster. Besides, look at Honda last season outdoors in the 250 class. Carmichael ran away with every moto win, but Ramsey and Tortelli sometimes put icing on the cake for Honda by finishing on the podium as well.

With Kawasaki taking the top spots in each class at Phoenix, basking in the radiance of winning was well deserved for not only Lusk and Stewart, but also the green machine. Lusk should have regained loads of confidence after passing the U.S. and World Supercross points leader in the late stages of Saturday’s race, it’s certainly his time to step up. As for ‘Bubba’ Stewart, what can you say about this kid except ‘wow.’ Blazing speed, amazingly quick reflexes, and a great attitude can only carry him further up the ladder of winning. So where did everyone else finish up at Phoenix?

Chad Reed could have won, and if it were anyone else besides Ezra Lusk behind him, he just might have won. Earlier in the night, Reed was in a similar position, only it was the heat race. Lusk studied Chad’s lines and pounced on the opportunity to pass Reed when he could. Ezra won the heat race and gained valuable knowledge on what lines Reed was using to possibly use for the main if a similar situation was to occur. Just like in the movie ‘Groundhog Day,’ Ezra Lusk was the Bill Murray of Saturday night in the main when he was staring down the silencer of Chad Reed, just like he had only hours before. D? vu or coincidence maybe, Lusk slipped past Reed and stood atop the top step that had eluded him since 1999. Reed held on for second overall (and extending his points lead), with his Yamaha teammate Tim Ferry nabbing his second straight podium.

Ricky Carmichael floundered for the second straight weekend, only this time he couldn’t pick up the pace and cut through the competition as he did in Anaheim. Maybe Ricky has concentrated so hard on psyching out Chad Reed and David Vuillemin that he in effect psyched himself out. Whatever has happened since the U.S. Open, Carmichael needs to stop. In effect, both Reed and Lusk now know they can bring down mighty Ricky, and Travis Pastrana also knows he has the speed to catch and pass Carmichael as long as he’s healthy. Then again, it has only been two races and in previous years RC has picked up speed as the season progressed.

David Vuillemin took fifth place, but just didn’t look all that fast compared to Lusk and Reed. After starting off the World SX Series with a win, David has been slipping backwards down the position ladder. Just like Ricky, Vuillemin needs to begin challenging for the lead early and charge.

In the 125 class, James Stewart stole the show after getting a top five start and charging up to the front. With Travis Preston in tow, it looked like things were going to shape up for an extremely close finish. It wasn’t to be, as Preston had trouble passing Matt Walker. Slowed by the Pro Circuit rider, Preston put an intense block pass on Walker but couldn’t catch back up to Stewart. Even so, Bubba’s lap times were a little faster than Travis throughout the race and would probably have beaten Preston even if Walker hadn’t gotten into the mix.

Danny Smith found himself on the podium for the first time this season and looked pretty fast. Sean Hamblin scored a fourth place finish in his first true to life supercross main, with Kevin Johnson rounding out the top five.

250 Main Event
1. Ezra Lusk – Kaw
2. Chad Reed – Yam
3. Tim Ferry – Yam
4. Ricky Carmichael – Hon
5. David Vuillemin – Yam
6. Sebastien Tortelli – Suz
7. Mike LaRocco – Hon
8. Ernesto Fonseca – Hon
9. Ivan Tedesco – Yam
10. Brock Sellards – Yam

250 Point Standings
1. Chad Reed – 47
2. Ricky Carmichael – 40
3. Tim Ferry – 40
4. Ezra Lusk – 38
5. David Vuillemin – 34
6. Sebastien Tortelli – 31
7. Ernesto Fonseca – 28
8. Ivan Tedesco – 21
9. Ryan Clark – 19
10. Stephane Roncada – 19

125 West Main Event
1. James Stewart – Kaw
2. Travis Preston – Hon
3. Danny Smith – Suz
4. Sean Hamblin – Suz
5. Kevin Johnson – Yam
6. Craig Anderson – Yam
7. Eric Sorby – Kaw
8. Steve Mertens – Yam
9. Andrew Short – Suz
10. Billy Laninovich – KTM

125 West Point Standings
1. James Stewart – 47
2. Travis Preston – 47
3. Danny Smith – 36
4. Andrew Short – 32
5. Chris Gosselaar – 27
6. Kevin Johnson – 27
7. Craig Anderson – 27
8. Billy Laninovich – 26
9. Matt Walker – 21
10. Sean Hamblin – 18


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