Ga. ~ During the first seven rounds of the AMA Supercross 250cc
Series a rider from Team AMSOIL/Chaparral/Honda has made the
podium six times, including the one-two finish by Kevin Windham
and Mike LaRocco in the season opener. Add the two podiums by
125cc West rider Billy Laninovich, and the team has represented
its sponsors well in 2005.
But the last few weeks have been rough for one
of the sports superstars. A series of crashes have left Windham
limping around the pits and finishing just off the scorching
pace of series leaders Ricky Carmichael and Chad Reed.
"K-Dub", who led the series for the first two weeks,
sandwiched a third place finish in Indianapolis with a bad crash
in Anaheim and an unspirited ride in San Diego. But as they say,
time heals old wounds.
"I just keep working hard, you
know," said Windham. "I try not to get to down on
myself. I had a couple of big get-offs two weeks in a row and
lost my confidence and banged myself up. But it's good to get my
healthy Windham is a dangerous thing for the rest of the field
as he once again proved his ability in Atlanta this past
weekend. The Mississippi native would start heat number two in
third, but quickly powered his big Honda 4-stroke past Yamaha's
Heath Voss for second. Now sitting behind Carmichael, Windham
would push the reigning outdoor champ around the track. He would
match RC's lap times of 51.8 seconds and was looking like the
healthy rider from the start of the year.
Meanwhile, LaRocco also found a second place
finish during the first 250cc heat race. The 34-year-old legend
started in third and was one of three Hondas that led the start
of the heat race. Long considered Honda's best 250cc 2-stroke
rider, he quickly tracked down Andrew Short for second during
lap two. LaRocco, who went into the weekend two points ahead of
Windham in the overall standings, was able to hold of Reed at
the finish line for second place.
main event would turn into a broken record for Team AMSOIL.
Starting strong and grabbing the holeshot was Reed, followed
closely by Carmichael. Behind the frontrunners was Windham in
fifth place. By the time the pack had reached turn number 5,
K-Dub was sitting in third and gaining ground on the leaders. On
lap seven Carmichael found himself in a familiar place. He
crashed and Windham was able to make up the difference and move
into second. But a few laps later, Carmichael roared his Suzuki
back into the mix. Windham would have to deal with RC, who
forced his way past Windham in turn seven after a series of
bumping between the two top riders.
"Yeah, he came in there pretty
aggressive," said Windham. "But he's trying to make a
move up to the front of the pack and he rode good tonight. I'm a
little disappointed he got by me there, but I just kept
fight wasn't out of Windham, who would keep pace for the next
few laps before settling into the three spot behind Carmichael
and Reed. As has been the case for a number of races this year,
Windham was all alone in third, finishing five seconds ahead of
fourth place finisher Sebastian Tortelli. LaRocco, who started
the race in seventh, worked his way to another top five finish
with his fifth. Carmichael eventually caught Reed and took his
sixth checkered flag of the year.
In the 125cc Eastern Regional, Team AMSOIL
found a top 10 finish in the form of rookie Josh Grant. Grant
finished seventh and moved into ninth overall in the Eastern
standings. Teammate Joaquim Rodrigues found the riding rough and
missed the main after a fifth place finish in the last chance
qualifier. Rodrigues, who finished sixth in Indianapolis,
dropped out of the top 10.
Team AMSOIL/Chaparral/Honda will be in St.
Louis next weekend at the Dome at America's Center. The AMA
Supercross Series airs every Sunday afternoon on ESPN2.
Late Season Charge
Buffalo, N.Y. ~ The World Snowmobile
Association was back in the United States last weekend for a
rare doubleheader in Buffalo. After a crash-heavy weekend of
racing in Valcourt, Quebec that took Team AMSOIL/Scheuring Speed
Sports pilot Carl Schubitzke and Team Ski-Doo and points leader
Blair Morgan out for the season, the WSA was hoping for some
safer riding in upstate New York.
AMSOIL swooped into Buffalo after spending two days at Orange
County Choppers in New York. Orange County is the famous
motorcycle shop that is featured on the Discovery Channel. The
team made a promotional stop for the U.S. Air Force, one of
"We spent two days at the shop visiting
with Paul Senior and Mikey," said Steve Scheuring. "We
even let them take one of the sleds out and play around. They
liked that a lot."
leaving O.C.C., the team made it into Buffalo for two days of
WSA Nationals. The doubleheader marks the only time this season
that there would be two-full days of racing. It also meant that
Team AMSOIL could make up some ground in the points races in
both the Pro Stock and Pro Open. There were 170 combined points
up for grabs last weekend. With D.J. Eckstrom sitting in second
in Pro Open and fifth in Pro Stock heading into Buffalo, a
strong effort could vault him to the top.
"It's going to be a long weekend for
everyone," said Eckstrom after returning home from Valcourt.
"I'll probably hit the gym this week for some extra
conditioning because two full days can take a toll on your body.
But I'll be ready."
On Saturday, the U.S. Air Force Eastern
National featured a full day of action inside Wilson Stadium,
the home of the NFL's Buffalo Bills. The Pro Stock event ran
first in the afternoon. Eckstrom would find himself in the front
row for the start of the main event after finishing with two
thirds and a second in the qualifying heats.
Eckstrom described the track as small and
tight, a lot like the course the WSA set up in Green Bay two
weeks earlier. But the bad luck that followed Team AMSOIL at
Lambeau Field had disappeared by Buffalo. In the final, Eckstrom
got a great start and grabbed the lead, winning the race and
moving up in the overall points standings.
the Pro Open field, Eckstrom tied Robbi Malinoski for the number
two qualifier. Points leader Steve Martin qualified poorly in
tenth, meaning Eckstrom had gained more ground on the
championship. The final didn't start until after 9 p.m.
Saturday, and it was Martin who found the right line for the
win. Eckstrom, meanwhile, took a step backwards. While pushing
for third, he caught an edge and crashed on the ice. He would
regroup for an eleventh place finish.
Sunday brought an early wake up call and
another full day of racing in the U.S. Air Force Buffalo
National. Eckstrom would find him self flip-flopping the
previous day's results. In Pro Stock, he again found himself in
the front row after a second round win and a second in the final
heat race. In the main, Eckstrom would grab the holeshot with
Malinoski. The Arctic Cat rider immediately fell off his sled,
tying Eckstrom up and sending him to the middle of the pack.
With the smaller track, passing was at a minimum all weekend
long. Eckstrom finished the race in seventh. The good news is
that he picked up two spots in the overall points race. T.J.
Gulla is in the lead with 635 points, Malinoski is second at 417
and Eckstrom is third with 409.
second Pro Open race of the weekend again started after the sun
fell below the horizon. Eckstrom was looking to reverse the
previous day's finish. Eckstrom won two of his three heat races
and was the number three qualifier for the second day in a row.
The main event was a lot friendlier to Team AMSOIL this time
around. Eckstrom got out in front with the leaders and grabbed
his second podium of the weekend with a second place finish in
the final. Martin again found the faster line and won the race,
keeping him in the overall lead with 439 points. But with two
races to go, Eckstrom sits in striking distance with 417.
The WSA heads to the birthplace of snocross
racing this weekend in Hill City, Minn. Racing begins on
Saturday with the pro finals on Sunday. Speed Channel has also
started airing the WSA season on Sunday afternoons. Rounds three
and four will air this weekend.
Late Season Swap
Aurora, Minn. ~ Team AMSOIL/Scheuring Speed
Sports pilot Carl Schubitzke suffered a broken arm at the
Valcourt race two weeks ago. After meeting with his doctor,
Schubitzke has been ruled out for the remainder of the season.
"He's trying to stay positive," said
Scheuring. "He's worked so hard but is disappointed that it
had to come to an early end like that."
For the remaining two WSA races of the season
and a Canadian Snowcross Racing Association race in April,
Scheuring will add Mike Schultz to the team. Schultz hails from
Pillager, Minn. and has been racing snowmobiles for the past six
years. He has been competing in the Rock Maple Racing circuit
this season. He is a former Winter X Games finalist and won the
Pro Stock race at Eagle River in 2004.
"He has been running out east and ran the
nationals at Buffalo this weekend," said Scheuring.
"He made the main event in both classes out there and will
be a strong runner for AMSOIL/Scheuring Speed Sports."