Round 15 of 16
Salt Lake City, Utah
By John Basher


I?m not a history buff in the least sense. I?ve grown up in the era where McGrath was king and dominated on an assortment of motorcycles. 1996 marked the first year that anyone had even come close to sweeping every round of the 250 supercross championship, when ?Super Mac? took 14 out of 15 rounds before trouble struck between Jeremy and Honda. ?97 marked a turn of the tide, where Roger Decoster and MC hooked up to form a Suzuki of Troy deal. While considered to be a match made in heaven, results proved otherwise, as Jeff Emig took the series at the final round in Las Vegas. And I?m sure you are well aware of the years following that heartbreak for McGrath, when he went blue and stuck to the indoor arenas. Three more titles later, and it was undoubtedly known throughout the motocross world that McGrath reigned supreme in supercross. In 2001 there was a changing of the guard when a once out of control 250 rider named Ricky Carmichael smoothed out and started winning. From then on, it was Ricky Carmichael winning the majority of the time. RC won back-to-back titles in 2001-?02, which now brings us up to 2003.


Daytona, Florida, was the race where Carmichael destroyed rookie 250 rider Chad Reed in the deep sand for 20 laps. It was a demoralizing loss for Reed, but more importantly, it gave Carmichael a 25 point lead in the race for the title. It was mainly smooth sailing for the defending champ (despite a few hiccup wins by Ezra Lusk and Chad Reed), but the two weeks after Daytona things changed drastically. Maybe Ricky started resting on his laurels, or maybe Chad Reed could no longer stand the embarrassment that had been cast upon him that dreary Daytona Saturday. What happened in St. Louis? Chad Reed won. What about Houston? Another Reed win. In fact, since Daytona, Chad has not lost. Imagine winning five straight times after being demoralized only weeks before, but Reed has begun to step up to the plate.

What is even more exciting than the underdog winning five events in a row is the fact that the title is still up for grabs. Sure, Chad Reed would have to win and Ricky finish below fifth place (something that hasn?t happened yet this year), but the supercross series has been rejuvenated. In a year littered with rider injuries, the top two early season contenders in Carmichael and Reed have given us exciting racing. What really happened in Salt Lake City, and was it exciting?


First off, Chad Reed and James Stewart were the winners. No real surprise there, except that Reed has strung together a winning streak longer that Ricky Carmichael has this whole season. Reed and Ricky started out fourth and fifth, with Tim Ferry grabbing the holeshot. Carmichael, in an attempt to forego any battles with Reed, took the lead on lap three. It was only moments later when Tim Ferry hit the deck, and was able to finish seventh by race end. Reed, sensing that he needed to get around RC quickly before Ricky had a chance to run away, made a tight pass on Ricky. This caused #4 to go down, and Reed to run away with his fifth straight win. Ricky remounted and worked up to second, while Ernesto Fonseca finished third. Nick Wey and Sean Hamblin finished fourth and fifth, respectively.

After the race was over tempers were flaring. Carmichael was hot and it wasn?t just because Chad Reed and him had gotten together and he had crashed. It seems Ferry had gotten into the mix as well and Carmichael wasn?t to happy about the team tactics. An impromptu meeting was held between Team Honda and Team Yamaha after the race to calm down everyone?s tempers.


No matter what Ricky Carmichael does he gets booed. In Salt Lake Ricky was the one who went down after a little bump with Reed and the fans still booed him when he was on the podium. To make things more fair Reed also got booed, but you couldn?t really hear his over all the cheering.


Who was the big winner Saturday night? James Stewart was, of course. Not only does this kid have energy and charisma, but he?s also got some killer zebra gear. Fuchsia last year and now zebra gear, I can?t imagine what?s in store for next year. Stewart ran away with his seventh race win in a row, with Billy Laninovich finished a season high second place in Salt Lake. Not only should KTM be happy with Laninovichs? finish, but Pro Circuit should be pumped with the riding of Eric Sorby. Eric rode hard and finished third, beating the likes of teammate Matt Walker (who crashed out after battling with Andrew Short). With Short?s fourth place finish, he took third place overall in the point standings, a season ending standing that was greatly deserved. Congratulations should also be given to Shane Bess and Josh Hansen, who had their best finishes of the season, placing fifth and sixth, respectively.


What will happen next weekend in Las Vegas? There will be a showdown and gun battle between Ricky Carmichael and Chad Reed. Carmichael is searching to regain composure, while Reed has nothing to lose. For Reed to win he needs to convince Vuillemin, Tortelli, Pastrana, Lusk and anyone else who has a shot at beating Carmichael into racing Vegas.

Don?t forget the 125 showdown as well, although Branden Jesseman is out with a broken thumb. Things should be interesting, so make sure to check back here for all the latest results.
250 RESULTS   
1. Chad Reed…Yam   
2. Ricky Carmichael…Hon   
3. Ernesto Fonseca…Hon   
4. Nick Wey…Yam   
5. Sean Hamblin…Suz   
6. Ryan Clark…Yam   
7. Tim Ferry…Yam   
8. Josh Demuth…Yam   
9. Keith Johnson…Yam   
10. Heath Voss…Yam

1. Ricky Carmichael…345
2. Chad Reed…335
3. Ernesto Fonseca…205
4. Nick Wey…187
5. Tim Ferry…177
6. David Vuillemin…169
7. Heath Voss…166
8. Ezra Lusk…149
9. Larry Ward…149
10. Keith Johnson…137

1. James Stewart…Kaw   
2. Billy Laninovich…KTM   
3. Eric Sorby…Kaw   
4. Andrew Short…Suz   
5. Shane Bess…Suz   
6. Josh Hansen…Yam   
7. Chris Gosselaar…Hon   
8. Kevin Johnson…Yam   
9. Steve Mertens…Yam   
10. Tiger Lacey…Yam

1. James Stewart…197
2. Travis Preston…138
3. Andrew Short…128
4. Billy Laninovich…123
5. Matt Walker…110
6. Eric Sorby…101
7. Chris Gosselaar…95
8. Josh Hansen…91
9. Danny Smith…81
10. Tiger Lacey…68


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