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SUPERCROSS

Carmichael Takes Early Lead, Wins

January 19, 2003|Martin Henderson | Times Staff Writer

It took Ricky Carmichael four races last season to win a race, and he managed to clinch his second consecutive AMA supercross series title after 15 of 16 rounds.

Carmichael did himself one better Saturday at Edison Field in front of 44,732, leading from start to finish to win Round 3 of the series aboard his factory Honda. He was never seriously challenged over 20 laps.

Carmichael, of Havana, Fla., became the third winner in three races and has won 27 races in his career, tied with Bob Hannah for third place on the all-time list.

That's not the way to beat the two-time champion, says Suzuki team boss Roger DeCoster.

"Shaking his confidence is the best way to beat him," DeCoster said. "Chad Reed beat him [in Round 1]. Ezra Lusk beat him [in Round 2]. That should give confidence to the other guys, that he's not unbeatable. But it's not going to be enough to do it one at a time."

Carmichael didn't win his qualifier, but he had no problems in the main event.

Instead, the spirited battle was for second place between Honda's Mike LaRocco and Kawasaki's Lusk, until Lusk fell on the final lap. LaRocco finished second, more than three seconds behind, and third went to Suzuki's Sebastien Tortelli.

Chad Reed, who led the series by eight points after two rounds, finished sixth.

In the 125cc field, after James "Bubba" Stewart, 17, of Haines City, Fla., slipped past KTM's Billy Laninovich in Turn 1 on the start and had a clear field in front of him, the only question was whether he would fall. And, if he did, whether his lead would be so big that he could climb back on his Kawasaki and still stand atop the podium.

Stewart won by more than 25 seconds en route to his second consecutive victory, but first ever in Anaheim. He has six wins in his career.

Stewart broke a tie for first place in the Western Region Series with defending champion Travis Preston of Hesperia, who finished sixth.

Andrew Short took second place.

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