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Carmichael Gets Win Number 5 In Atlanta!

AMA Supercross Series 250cc/125cc East

Round 8: Atlanta, GA

February 22, 2003

Ricky Carmichael's Havana, Florida home lies 275 miles east of Atlanta,

Georgia, but the 63,749 fans who attended round eight of the AMA Supercross

Series made Carmichael feel right at home inside the Georgia Dome. "They

definitely made me feel welcome," said Carmichael about the Southern crowd.

"It's nice to come to Atlanta. The crowd is so loud and it gives me a good

feeling." Winning gives Carmichael a good feeling too, which is why he took

the lead on lap two and dominated the rest of the 20-lap race.

Carmichael's victory marked his fifth since the series began. Of the eight

rounds run thus far, Carmichael has finished in the top five at every event

and currently holds a 17-point advantage over second place. Unfortunately,

Carmichael's Honda teammate, Ernesto Fonseca, has not been as lucky.

"He's had a couple of weeks with some bad luck," said Honda Team Manager

Erik Kehoe about Fonseca's recent crashes. "However, this week Fonseca was

not about to let his nagging thumb injury keep him from running near the

front." Fonseca made clear his intent early in the evening when Carmichael

and Fonseca raced to first and third place finishes, respectively, in their

heat race. The strong Honda showing was just a foreshadowing of things to


Representing the Red Riders in the other 250 Heat was Team

Amsoil/Chaparral/Factory Connection's Mike LaRocco and Travis Preston. The

Atlanta event marked the first race for LaRocco since injuring his shoulder

at round five in Anaheim, California. Still hampered by his injury, LaRocco

finished an impressive third and transferred to the Main. For Preston,

Atlanta marked the first time the 125 Western Region standout would compete

on a Honda CRF450R and it proved to be a valuable learning experience.

Preston was forced to qualify for the Main by way of the 250 LCQ, but each

time he took to the track aboard the powerful four-stroke, his results

improved. He would ultimately finish 13th in the Main.

"Each time Preston went out on the track, he rode better," commented Kehoe

about the strong performance. "He just needs some more time on the bike."

In the Main, Larry Ward grabbed the holeshot on his Honda CRF450R, with the

Honda CR250Rs of Fonseca and Carmichael hot on his heels. Just before the

completion of the first lap, Carmichael squeezed into second place past

Fonseca, and passed Ward on lap three. From there, Carmichael simply

vanished, finishing a comfortable 6.227 seconds ahead of runner-up Chad

Reed and lapping all the way to 8th position. "I felt real good all night,"

said Carmichael of his performance. "My bike was excellent, especially

through the big whoops. I'd still like to get the holeshot. It makes life a

lot easier."

As Carmichael stretched his lead, Fonseca and LaRocco were turning in their

own valiant performances. Pushing through the pain of their injuries,

Fonseca and LaRocco posted fourth and eighth place finishes, respectively.

Just missing the podium, Fonseca garnered his best performance since the

series began. "It was a great finish for Ernesto and it will build up his

confidence," said a proud Kehoe. "He really needed this."

 In 125cc action, Team Amsoil/Chaparral/Factory Connection Red Rider

Michael Byrne's quest for a 125 Eastern Region race win was postponed

again. For the second time in as many weeks, Byrne suffered another

first-lap crash and was forced to work his way up through the pack,

ultimately finishing fifth. Despite being caught in traffic, Byrne's lap

times were as fast as those of the race leader, and The Burner had no

problem winning his heat race earlier in the evening. With five rounds

remaining in the 125 East series, Byrne trails the points leader by only 11


Meanwhile, Byrne's young teammate Ryan Mills fought to a tenth-place

finish, one spot better than the previous week. In addition, a young

privateer named Shane Lusk?yes, Ezra Lusk's younger brother?piloted his

Honda CR125R to a commendable 14th place.

With the series halfway complete, round nine heads for Indianapolis,

Indiana, where Mike LaRocco will enjoy a hometown crowd. On March 1, The

Rock hopes his tender shoulder is completely healed so he can corral a win

in front of his fellow Hoosiers inside the RCA Dome.

250 Main Event Results:

1. Ricky Carmichael ? Honda

2. Chad Reed - Yamaha

3. David Vuillemin - Yamaha

4. Ernesto Fonseca - Honda

5. Tim Ferry - Yamaha

8. Mike LaRocco - Honda

13. Travis Preston - Honda

16. Larry Ward - Honda

17. Clark Stiles - Honda

20. Damon Huffman - Honda

250 AMA Supercross Point Standings:

1. Ricky Carmichael ? Honda - 185

2. Chad Reed ? Yamaha - 168

3. David Vuillemin ? Yamaha - 147

4. Tim Ferry ? Yamaha - 130

5. Ezra Lusk ? Kawasaki - 122

7. Ernesto Fonseca ? Honda - 77

10. Mike LaRocco ? Honda - 73

14. Larry Ward ? Honda - 58

15. Damon Huffman ? Honda - 43

19. Paul Carpenter ? Honda - 22

125 East Main Event Results:

1. Brock Sellards - Yamaha

2. Mike Brown - Kawasaki

3. Branden Jesseman - Suzuki

4. Erick Vallejo - Yamaha

5. Michael Byrne ? Honda

10. Ryan Mills - Honda

14. Shane Lusk - Honda

125 Easter Region Supercross Point Standings:

1. Brock Sellards ? Yamaha - 47

2. Branden Jesseman ? Suzuki - 45

3. Mike Brown ? Kawasaki - 40

4. Michael Byrne ? Honda - 36

5. Kelly Smith ? Yamaha - 29

9. Ryan Mills ? Honda - 21

16. Shane Lusk ? Honda - 7