Houston, Texas
Round 12 of 16
By John Basher

Nearly 167 years ago, the cry “Remember the Alamo” was first voiced at the Battle of San Jacinto. In that battle, Sam Houston lead fellow Texans into a battle that effectively allowed Texas to be incorporated into the Union. It had been less than a month since the bloodshed at The Alamo, but the Texans had rallied and used that prolific battle as a stepping stone for independence. Freedom might seem to be commonplace today in the U.S. (even while the U.S. is at war with Iraq), but one can look at The Alamo as the spark that lit the cannon in Texas. And, just like the hard fought battles in Texas, there needs to be a catalyst in order for a professional racer to do well. Desire to be the best, factory equipment, fat paychecks, or superstardom might be the initial driving forces for a rider to strive for the top, but sometimes there is another reason. In Houston, some 180 miles away from San Antonio as the crow flies, that reason became clearly evident.

It wasn?t timed or planned as battles often are, but instead appeared out of determination and the search for number one. It was Ricky Carmichael and Chad Reed who were left in the gunfight after eleven rounds, and were also top marksmen since the beginning of the year. Reed, some 22 points behind Carmichael in the chase for the championship, needed desperately to win. Carmichael, who controls his own destiny at this point, was looking to put Chad?s championship hopes to rest at Houston by winning and extending his points lead. On Saturday night, that reason for achieving greatness became obvious when Reed grabbed the lead and Carmichael crashed off the start. It was clear as day that both Reed and RC have the will to be the best, both have the will to take chances, and both have the will to win at all costs. That is what has made supercross racing exciting this year, even while nearly all of the factory riders are sidelined. With four rounds remaining, the race for the number one plate is still up for grabs between CR and RC.

“Remember Houston” might as well be spoken on the lips of Ricky Carmichael and Chad Reed, because both had shining moments at Houston. Carmichael showed that there is nothing stopping him (short of a big get-off) that will derail him from his third 250 supercross title. Cutting like a hot knife through butter, RC charged up to second place by race end after falling in the first turn and starting out last. Would Ricky have been able to do this at the beginning of the series when Vuillemin, Ferry, Pastrana and company were healthy? That?s a question for the ages, but with many of the factory riders injured, Carmichael can pirouette through the privateers in order to find the podium. Not to discredit privateers (and some of the privateers should easily have factory rides), but factory equipment is an ace in the hole for any professional rider. In stating this, Ricky has no reason not to be up towards the front by race end because no one is challenging him for position. That is why Carmichael controls his own destiny, even if he doesn?t win the four remaining rounds.

Chad Reed, on the other hand, can only look forward. “Remember Houston” will bring the continued motivation he needs in order to try and win his first 250 supercross series. After Daytona, Reed knew he was a few steps off Ricky?s pace (14.5 seconds to be exact) and prepared for St. Louis. Taking the win in St. Louis, it became a points game between RC and Chad, with Ricky being up by 22. All Reed could do was keep winning and hope that Carmichael crashed or had mechanical problems. In Houston, Reed continued his winning ways and caught a huge break when Ricky crashed at the start. There was only one thing that was holding Chad back from having a fairytale evening, that being that no one was holding Carmichael back from charging up to second! Reed needs to win the remaining four rounds, with Ricky finishing second at three rounds and seventh at another round. Another scenario could be; Reed wins the last four rounds, Ricky places second at three of the rounds and sixth at another round, effectively bringing them to a tie. The winner would be determined by number of race wins, and Chad Reed would become the champion (with eight wins). There is currently two other riders in the 250 field that have beat Ricky Carmichael this year, Chad Reed and Ezra Lusk. Reed can only figure on Ricky having a mechanical problem or crashing hard, because nobody besides Reed and Lusk have proven to stop the Carmichael train this season.

What really happened at Houston? Chad Reed won his fourth race of the season, gaining three points on Ricky Carmichael for the championship. Ricky Carmichael crashed off the start and came back to second place by race end, showing there is little stopping him in his quest for another championship. Ernesto Fonseca finished third place, taking his second straight podium appearance. Larry Ward and Nick Wey rounded out the top five.

In the 125 class, Brock Sellards took his second win of the season aboard the Yamaha of Troy YZ250F, with Ivan Tedesco in second and Brett Metcalfe in third. Points leader Branden Jesseman struggled as he crashed early on, only being able to pass Mike Brown in the late stages for fourth place. With Jesseman finishing in front of Brown, he now holds a twelve point lead heading into the 125 East final at Pontiac. Meanwhile, Sellards has closed up to within five points of Mike Brown for second place in the standings. Making his win even more spectacular was the fact that Sellards couldn?t shift out of third gear all night because of a bent shift lever.

Ricky Carmichael and Chad Reed might not know the connotation behind “Remember the Alamo,” but it is certain that both will remember Houston. Reed might look more positively at what happened at round twelve, but the fire has certainly been lit for Carmichael. As stated in post-race interviews, he plans on stringing together wins at the remaining rounds before heading outdoors. With two riders having such a strong will to win, both will not only remember Houston, but also the entire 2003 supercross series. It?s a case of what would have, should have, and could have happened for Ricky or Chad to win the series. One thing is certain though, the last four rounds will surely be exciting even with the absence of all the other factory stars.

250 RESULTS   
1. Chad Reed…Yam   
2. Ricky Carmichael…Hon   
3. Ernesto Fonseca…Hon   
4. Larry Ward…Hon   
5. Nick Wey…Yam   
6. Keith Johnson…Yam   
7. Greg Schnell…Yam   
8. Clark Stiles…Hon   
9. Sean Hamblin…Suz   
10. Ryan Clark…Yam

1. Ricky Carmichael…279
2. Chad Reed…260
3. David Vuillemin…169
4. Tim Ferry…163
5. Ezra Lusk…149
6. Ernesto Fonseca…145
7. Nick Wey…138
8. Heath Voss…123
9. Larry Ward…111
10. Keith Johnson…101

1. Brock Sellards…Yam   
2. Ivan Tedesco…Yam   
3. Brett Metcalfe…KTM   
4. Branden Jesseman…Suz   
5. Mike Brown…Kaw   
6. Ryan Mills…Hon   
7. Steve Boniface…KTM   
8. Tiger Lacey…Yam   
9. Jeff Gibson…Suz   
10. Michael Blose…Yam

1. Branden Jesseman…135
2. Mike Brown…123
3. Brock Sellards…118
4. Brett Metcalfe…85
5. Kelly Smith…83
6. Steve Boniface…72
7. Erick Vallejo…71
8. Matt Lalloz…67
9. Ryan Mills…63
10. Michael Blose…47


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