Only the GOAT could pull off this stunt. It takes a true champion, a now five-time Supercross
champion to be exact, to manage winning the war by simultaneously winning and losing the battle. Makita Suzuki's Ricky Carmichael
closed out his final full season of Supercross racing by clinching the hardest-earned title of his career. After overcoming practically every imaginable obstacle this season, the reigning champion battled tooth and nail until the final round this weekend in Las Vegas. After establishing a solid 12-point lead at Houston, Ricky's lead slowly evaporated under the scorching pressure of Kawasaki's James Stewart and Yamaha's Chad Reed
Ricky Carmichael has now earned Makita Suzuki two Supercross championships and five for himself. He truly is the GOAT.
Coming into the final round, RC and CR were tied at 316-points apiece with Stewart five points back. Judging from Bubba's recent string of wins and un-matchable speed, it was set to be a race for second between the two former champs, and it was. James Stewart
picked up a cool 1,500 bucks for the Progressive Direct Holeshot award and never relinquished the lead. The Sobe/Samsung/Honda of Kevin Windham pulled out of the first corner in second with Ricky in third, Ivan Tedesco in fourth and Reed in fifth as 35,500 fans waited for the ensuing scrap to commence.
It didn't take long for Carmichael to relieve Windham of the position as he dispatched the Number 14 rider on Lap 2. Reed meanwhile had lost a bit of time as he got pinched off and was not able to do an early triple. Carmichael's teammate, Tedesco was in perfect position to hold up the Yamaha rider, but proved to be less of a roadblock than he could have been allowing Reed by before the first circuit was complete. The Aussie also moved past Windham two laps later as the Honda rider graciously moved out of the way so that the championship battle royal could take place.
The Big Three were in a freight train formation by the start of Lap 5, setting the perfect stage for a championship race and turning Sam Boyd Stadium into the eye of the perfect storm. No come from behind rages, no bad starts, and no team tactics. The time gap from first to second place and second to third was nearly the same at around three seconds each, but it was the spread between those yellow and blue bikes that really mattered.
Over the next 15 laps it would shrink to nearly two-and-a-half seconds and swell to roughly four, but both riders were obviously attacking the dry, slippery track with everything that they could possibly muster. Carmichael's strategy was to race ahead to try to catch the quick-triggered Stewart.
"I tried to set my sight on James because I knew if I did that then I'd be okay," he said.
The trio ran into heavy lapped traffic at around the halfway point, adding a new dimension to the contest. At one point during Lap 14 Carmichael pulled alongside Reed's fellow factory Yamaha rider, Heath Voss, who like Tedesco, put up a small block before giving way. Call it an even trade. After successfully navigating the potential minefield of slower riders, the trio broke into clear sailing with four laps to go and would enjoy a relatively empty track for the remainder of the race.
James Stewart came across the finish line first for his eighth win of the season, easily enough to claim the FIM World Supercross GP title, which was presented to him by FIM Race Manager, John Gallagher.
"I felt like I could come in here and at least get the win," said Stewart. "This is an honor just to win it here in Vegas."
The title is Stewart's first of what will surely be many in the premier class, but the young Kawasaki pilot was gracious in his AMA Amp'd Mobile Supercross defeat, giving credit where due.
"I've been busting my butt all year but I've got to give it up to Ricky for winning the championship," he said.
Stewart tied with Reed in the overall points at 336, but his eight-win total easily earned him the nod in the tie breaker compared to Reed's two victories.
Carmichael finished 3.2 seconds ahead of Reed for a season total of 338 points and his 14th major AMA title (5 Supercross and 9 Motocross).
"I kept saying to myself there is no way Chad is beating me tonight," said Carmichael. "He beat me last weekend in Seattle heads up, and I was not going to let it happen. This has been a team effort; we had a lot of adversity this season and we overcame it. I had a heck of a career, and I wanted to go out on top."
We'll see Ricky plenty in the future as he's signed a contract with Suzuki for three more years. Despite all the controversy that has swirled around the Suzuki camp and the race series in general, things are as they should be for the greatest champion our sport has ever seen. Things have turned out all right in the Supercross world. Hell, it's tough to imagine anything better, but we might just have our questions answered as the outdoor Motocross series comes barreling closer. Enjoy it while you can, Ricky, because James is going to be after you come summertime.
In presenting Carmichael with his monumental award, AMA Supercross Series Manager Steve Whitelock said, "Ricky this is what you worked sixteen races for, and my god you worked hard."
Well said, Steve.
1. James Stewart (KAW)
2. Ricky Carmichael (SUZ)
3. Chad Reed (YAM)
4. Kevin Windham (HON)
5. Travis Preston (HON)
6. Nick Wey (HON)
7. Ivan Tedesco (SUZ)
8. Josh Demuth (HON)
9. Brock Sellards (HON)
10. Heath Voss (YAM)
AMA Amp'd Mobile Supercross Series Final Standings:
1. Ricky Carmichael, 338
2. James Stewart, 336
3. Chad Reed, 336
4. Ivan Tedesco, 255
5. Nick Wey, 249
6. Michael Byrne, 228
7. Travis Preston, 207
8. Ernesto Fonseca, 125
9. Ryan Clark, 118
10. Mike LaRocco, 108
"After last weekend I didn't really care about tonight," said Honda's Andrew Short in reference to his devastating title loss in the final Western Region event in Seattle. "I just wanted to win to get the confidence going again."
Well he can feel good now as the 250Fs take to the open skies of the AMA Motocross Lites series in two weeks at Hangtown. Short redeemed himself to some degree with his second career victory in the Dave Coombs Sr. East/West Shootout. Short started a few positions out of the lead while Monster/Pro Circuit/Kawasaki's Ryan Villopoto grabbed another Progressive Direct Holeshot award. The field was without the strong presence of Villopoto's teammate and West Coast champion, Grant Langston due to a wrist injury he sustained in a press-day crash. Mike Alessi shoved his Red Bull KTM by Villopoto for the lead almost immediately causing the KX-F rider to go down.
Short took over the lead on Lap 3 and was followed by Honda teammate and East Coast champion, Davi Millsaps. Millsaps dogged the leader for the next four laps before crashing himself out of contention. That opened the gate for Alessi to slip into the runner-up spot where he fended off a gang attack from Sobe/Samsung/Honda teammates Josh Grant and Tommy Hahn. Grant would eventually fall to fourth while Hahn posted his best finish by staying smooth and smart and wound up on the podium in third.
Dave Coombs Sr. East/West Shootout
1. Andrew Short (HON)
2. Mike Alessi (KTM)
3. Thomas Hahn (HON)
4. Josh Grant (HON)
5. Ryan Morais (SUZ)
6. Ryan Villopoto (KAW)
7. Darcy Lange (KAW)
8. Bobby Kiniry (HON)
9. Kyle Partridge (YAM)
10. Justin Brayton (YAM)
AMA Amp'd Mobile Eastern Regional Supercross Lites Final Standings:
1. Davi Millsaps, 166
2. Chris Gosselaar, 134
3. Josh Grant, 119
4. Thomas Hahn, 102
5. Branden Jesseman, 96
6. Kelly Smith, 81
7. Bobby Kiniry, 75
8. Teddy Maier, 61
9. Martin Davalos, 60
10. Jay Marmont, 54
AMA Amp'd Mobile Western Regional Supercross Lites Final Standings:
1. Grant Langston, 161
2. Andrew Short, 153
3. Ryan Villopoto, 141
4. Mike Alessi, 129
5. Billy Laninovich, 125
6. Nathan Ramsey, 116
7. Brett Metcalfe, 116
8. Paul Carpenter, 89
9. Ryan Morais 75
10. Darcy Lange, 64