Monday, July 23, 2007

Mile High Madness

Today was the 7th round of the 2007 AMA nationals in Thunder Valley Colorado. James Stewart would make his return after an injury from a high-speed crash left him out last week at Unadilla. He skipped Saturday practice, like usual, but then, like usual, set the fastest lap in Sunday morning practice. It looked like things were finally going to go Bubba’s way. I don’t know what it is about the lucky number 7, but he can’t seem to catch a break. On what should have been a routine, day riding only as fast as he could to take the win, Bubba ended up battling the heat and the altitude in a wacky pair of motos. I’m going to do my best to keep this short, but no promises.
In the start of the first moto, James grabbed the holeshot, and was out front early. It was looking good for Stewart, and it seemed that even though he wasn’t 100% he would still pull out the victory. But then he started to slow down. I don’t blame him for taking it easy. Thunder Valley raceway is 6000ft above sea level, and it was about 100 degrees. I would have pussied out before the gate even dropped. But he rode strong and salvaged 4th. Millsaps got his first ever moto win in the motocross class, with local favorite Andrew short behind him then 800, Mike Alessi. So far Bubba still hasn’t won a moto since Ricky stepped away, and he would just miss out in the second moto.
Bubba was in his motor home, debating whether or not to even race moto number 2, when Big James (Bubba’s dad) came in and told James that he had more heart than that, and he should race. James would tough it up, and line up at the gate for the second moto, an achievement in itself.
When the gate dropped, it was Davi Millspaps with the holee, and it looked like the Duke was going to go 1-1 on the day and take his first overall victory. But about 3 laps in, an energized Stewart made the pass for the lead, and tried to open up a gap. Still Davi’s 1-2 would have gave him the overall, but with about 5 laps to go, he fell over, and began to fade, and could only hang on for 8th. Tough break for #118. Behind Bubba, was where the real racing was taking place. Local boy Andrew Short, Mike Alessi, Ivan Tedesco, and “Red Dog” Tim Ferry were battling it out. After 5 laps of bar-to-bar racing, Tim Ferry passed all the way from 8th to take over the lead with only 2 to go. James held on to 2nd, and Alessi got 3rd again, with Short in 4th.
The overall is really freaking hard to figure out. Stewart got a 4-2, Alessi got a 3-3, and Short got a 2-4. So who the hell wins? Well according to AMA rules, the rider with the best moto 2 score wins the tiebreaker, so that gives the overall win to, you guessed it, James Bubba Stewart. This is the first overall victory for Bubba this season, and the first time in a while, a rider has won an overall without winning a moto. Actually none of the 3 riders that tied for first won any motos today. Both Ferry and Millsaps had one good moto, and one bad moto, leaving them in 4th and 5th respectively. Wow what a day, and that was just the 450 class!
To keep things simple, it was another great battle between Kawasaki teammates Ben Townley and Ryan Villopoto in the 250 class. In the end, after swapping motos, Townley came away with the overall victory. Mr. 2nd moto comes through in the clutch again! But the 2 were tied for points going in to Thunder Valley, after Villopoto screwed up last week, so with both riders grabbing 47 points a piece today, they will still be tied going to Washougal next weekend. How crazy is that! Both classes had ties for the lead! Anyone who knows the last time that has happened, let me know, because I can’t imagine that happens too often. Then while your at it, let me know when the last time there was a 3-way tie for the overall lead, with no moto-winners in the 450 class. Good luck…
That’s what we’ve come to expect from the AMA nationals. Nothing but great racing week in and week out. So far, things haven’t been to bad without Ricky Carmichael, although I still miss him. But it is good to know that there will be a lot more weekends like this one to come. Get ready for ‘shougal next weekend! I get to actually attend this one. I know I’m excited, and you should be too.

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