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AMA: Lusk the Defender in Phoenix

22 January 1999

Pickerington, Ohio -- Taking his second win in a row last weekend in San Diego, Calif., Honda rider Ezra Lusk keeps the points lead of the 1998 American Motorcyclist Association (AMA) U.S. Supercross Series. Lusk holds 50 championship points, leading second-ranked Honda rider Mike LaRocco by a 10-point margin. The Supercross caravan will now travel to round three of the 16-race series, to be held Jan. 23, at the new Bank One Ballpark in Phoenix, Ariz.

Lusk won the 1999 season-opener in Anaheim, Calif., and followed up with a win last weekend in San Diego -- a close match to his performance last year when he started the season by winning rounds two and three. While he is in an enviable position, Lusk is now under pressure to defend the lead against the series top contenders, particularly Mazda Chaparral Yamaha rider Jeremy McGrath. At the San Diego race, Lusk was doggedly pursued by McGrath, who came back from a bad start to finish in second-place.

McGrath -- the reigning and five-time AMA Supercross champion -- is currently ranked in series fourth-place, with 36 points, and he needs a win to take a run at the series lead. At last year's round three race, held at Sun Devil Stadium in Tempe, Ariz., McGrath finished second to none other than Lusk. But while McGrath may be behind at the moment, he didn't take his first 1998 win until round four in Seattle, and that win began a streak lasting four races.

Factory Connection Honda rider Mike LaRocco -- the 1993 AMA 250cc National Motocross Champion -- has shown a new determination this season. LaRocco finished third for the second week in a row, and hw has accumulated a total of 40 championship points. LaRocco had just one podium finish in 1998, taking third at the St. Louis round.

Team Yamaha of Troy's Casey Johnson took his second win of the season in the AMA 125cc Western Region Supercross series. Johnson was followed -- just as happened the week before in Anaheim -- by his teammate Casey Lytle, who took second-place. The Yamaha of Troy team has established a considerable lead in the eight-round Western Region series, with Johnson holding a 14-point lead over third-ranked Primal Impulse Suzuki rider Michael Brandes, with 36 points.

For tickets to the Phoenix round of the AMA U.S. Supercross series at Bank One Ballpark, call (602) 462-6000.

The Phoenix round will be broadcast 4 p.m. Eastern time Jan. 31, on ESPN2. Check local listings as broadcast times may vary.

                           PAST PHOENIX WINNERS
   (Previous events were held at the Sun Devil Stadium in Tempe, Ariz.)
     250cc Supercross
     Date            Winner, hometown                Machine
     January 25, 1997 Jeff Emig, Riverside, CA       Kawasaki
     March 16, 1991  Jean-Michel Bayle, France       Honda
     May 2, 1987     Jeff Ward, Mission Viejo, CA    Kawasaki
     May 10, 1986    Rich Johnson, El Cajon, CA      Honda

125cc Supercross Date Winner, hometown Machine January 25, 1997 Kevin Windham, Baton Rouge, LA Yamaha March 16, 1991 Jeff Emig, Grand terrace, CA Yamaha May 2, 1987 Donny Schmit, Bloomington, MN Suzuki May 10, 1986 Willie Surratt, Canyon Country, CA Honda

For immediate post-race results, rider information, AMA Pro Racing notes and news, check the Pro Racing pages of AMAdirectlink, at