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A Ride Too Hard to Resist

Supercross standout McGrath, 34, ended a restless retirement and returns to Anaheim, site of 10 of his wins, to race younger stars.

January 07, 2006|Shav Glick | Times Staff Writer

Jeremy McGrath came out of Murrieta in 1993 and raised the standards in supercross with a daring style that led to seven championships in eight years before he retired in 2003.

Like so many great athletes who find retirement boring, McGrath came back to ride a few races last year and starting tonight in the Amp'd Mobile AMA championships at Angel Stadium, he will ride a Honda in the first six races of the 2006 season.

"I can't seem to put it down," the 34-year-old said of his latest adventure. "I miss racing. Like I said last year, I have done all the winning that I have to do. Last year was difficult and I didn't come in as ready as I could have."

In seven races, McGrath's best finish was fifth, in the second Anaheim event. McGrath has won 10 races at Anaheim in his career.

"I'm not foolish enough to come out and say I'm going to beat Ricky, James or Chad, but I'm going to do everything I can to finish as high as I can," he said. "Obviously, it gets harder when you're 34. It takes a lot longer to recover."

Ricky Carmichael, defending world and national champion; James "Bubba" Stewart, winner of the first two world SX rounds last month in Canada, and Chad Reed, 2004 supercross champion, are the top contenders as the stadium motocross season gets underway.

The two Canadian races had the same results: Stewart first on a Kawasaki, Carmichael second on a Makita Suzuki and Reed third on a Yamaha.

"James gave us a lot of motivation in Canada," Carmichael said. "It's great to see a rider evolve as he has. I've seen him since he was on peewees and it's great to see people come up through the ranks as far as he has.

"He's an amazing rider and does things on a bike that a lot of people can't do. He definitely has a new style and new way of riding. I'm here to see if I can beat him."

Stewart, who had a disappointing rookie season last year, says he has changed his attitude.

"If I get a bad start, I'll just try and finish the best I can," the 20-year-old Florida rider said. "It's a 16-race season and not a one-race shootout. I think that's the way I looked at it last year. I was trying to win every race, no matter what happened.

"This year I'm trying to win the race to Vegas and win the title."

The season ends May 6 in Las Vegas. Two more races are scheduled at Angel Stadium, Jan. 21 and Feb. 4.

Kevin Windham, who won last year's mud bath in Anaheim, will not be in tonight's race. He broke his left arm in a crash while testing his Honda three weeks ago.

Riders in tonight's 20-lap main event will be aboard either 250cc two-stroke or 450cc four-stroke machines. There will also be a 15-lap semi-main for Supercross Lites with riders on either 125cc two-stroke or 250cc four-stroke bikes.

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