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MOTOCROSS AMA/MAZDA TRUCK NATIONAL CHAMPIONSHIP 125cc MX SERIES Round 5: Budds Creek MX Park ,. iarmrnae By Jerry Athey Photos by Karl Ockert BUDDS CREEK, MD, JUNE 21 ~ 10 t must ha ve felt like 1997 all over ag ain for Team Spl itFi re /Pro Circu it / Axo / Kawasaki's Ricky Carm ich a el as th e 18-vear-o ld Floridian cha rged to th e ov~ra ll wi n a t Budds Creek MX Park for the second yea r in a row. Carmicha el, w ho marked his third ·overall victory of the 1998 ou tdoor seaso n , fl ew h is C had W att s-pre p p ed KX125 to a decisive 1-1 showing in fron t of the 12,423 di e-hard racing fans w ho br a ved the oppres sive Maryland heat and humidity. "I feel pretty good about tod ay : ' said C a rmichael short lv a ft er th e sec o nd m oto . " I did my ho mew o rk th is past w eek, rod e hard and it seems to have paid off, so I'm reall y happy." Also, for th e seco nd ye ar in a row, Budds Creek ma rked a comeback, of sorts, for Carmic hael, who was eager to improve u pon his luck after suffering a first-moto D F at the rain-soaked Southwick round the week befo re. The scenario may have been all too familiar to Carmichael, as he suffered a similar situa tion last year, faltering temporarily at the muddy Mount Morris rou nd , only to come back with a vengeance to score a command ing double mo ta wi n at Bud ds Creek. While he acknowledged the similarities betwee n the tw o situations, Carmic hael wa s qu ick to point ou t one very impor tant d ifferen ce between now and then. " I don't have a 36-poin t lead leaving Budds Creek this year like I d id la st y ea r," said th e d efend in g Na tiona l Champion . "So, th is tim e, it' s a tot all y d ifferent si tu ation for me." Fini s hing second o ve ra II to Ca rmichae l was Team Honda of Tro y / Sin isaIo/ O a kley's Mike Brown . After havin g probl em s in bo th mot os of th e p revious ro u nd and sco ring zero points, Brown's strong 3-2 Budds Creek pe rfo rmance was just the rejuvena tion the hard-charging rid er was looking for. "Th is is the best rid e I' ve h ad all vear," Brown said. "I kn ew I cou ld run up fro nt but, I jus t haven't go tten good s ta r ts lat el y . It takes a better rider to come from the back, I guess, bu t it's a lot eas ier if yo u get a good start." Brown's impressive rid e a t Bu dd s Creek catapulted him from 10th to sixth place in the series' points sta ndi ngs. The final spot on th e podium w ent to Team Yama ha 's John Dowd with his 4-3 rid e. Whi le it w asn't exac tly th e re sult Do wd had hoped for, th e fri endly 32year-o ld w as s till p leased to m ake it throu gh th e hi stori cally to ug h event unscathed . " It wasn ' t the best of d a ys , bu t I guess it wasn't the worst of days either:' reaso ned Dowd . "I just didn't rea lly feel too comfortable out th ere today . For so me reason, I was making a lo t of mistak es, especially in the turns . After concen tra ti ng on sa n d for the las t th ree weeks, it seemed like I wa s havin g trouble adapting to the face-fo rward riding sty le you need for ha rd pack and all of th ese off-ca mber turns. I had my prob le m s, but it wasn ' t too bad of a d ay. Hopefull y, I can d o a littl e be tte r at th e next few rou nds." Fo r th e second co nsecutive week, Te am Spii tFi re / P ro C ircuit's C a se y Johns on fini sh ed fo u rt h overa ll. The Californian's 7-4 ride w as follo wed by th e consistent 8-6 tally of Team Primal Impulse Suzuki's rider Rob bie Reynard for fifth ove rall. "I jus t didn't ge t good sta rts today and had to try to come fro m behind in both mo tes," sa id Reyn ar d . "In the seco nd m oto, 1 started off not riding very we ll and then finally sta rted to pick up my pace at the end . 1 feel good, thou gh, th e heat didn't bother me, at all. Aft er th is race we have a weekend off, so I can go ho me and put in so me more w or k." For the se cond tim e in its nin e-year hist ory of hostin g pro fessional com pe tition, the beaut ifu l Budds C ree k course, built and managed by Jonatha n Beasley, w as ru n in the op pos it e direction (see Briefly ...), throwin g a new a nd un expected cu rve at the national rid ers . Also n ew for 1998 w a s a recen tl v revised sta r ting area and first turn; offerin g spec tators greater visibility and access ibility to the racing action . MOTOONE As th e rid ers h it the Budd s Creek s ta rt for the first time, it was Johnson blasting to the holeshot, followed by his teammate, Car m ichael, Tea m Moto XXX's Brandes, Team Cha pa rra l Yamaha ' s Jimmy Butt o n a n d Br o wn . Carmichael was the firs t rid er to be bitten by th e gnarly Budds Cr eek course, wh en h e went down o n on e of the track's num erous and steep off-cam ber turns late in th e firs t la p . "My fro nt end just washed ou t:' said Ca rm ichael. " I go t up a n d go t goi ng pre tty quickly so it wasn' t reall y a big dea1. " With Ca rmichael re-entering the race jus t inside the top 10, Brandes inh erited the lea d and rode stro ng ly ou t front for the nex t several laps before even tually (Above) Ric ky Carm ichael (1) won bo th motos and closed to with in one po int of series leader John Dowd (9), who went 4-3 for th ird ove rall . fa lling int o th e clu tches of Bu tton ju st before the halfway point. " I felt pretty g ood leading ," sai d Brandes lat er. "I was running at a pa ce that I w as comfo rtable with and th e bike was w orking really well, but I've recen tly been struggli ng with a naggin g lefthand-thumb injury that made it hard for m e to ho ld o n to th e bike later in th e moto." As Button m oved past the wounded Brandes for the lead, Carmichael continued hi s relentles s charge to the front, sailing pa st Dowd for third as the riders began la p number fiv e. With th e top four rid er s in th e moto separated by a few seconds , Carmic hael took the me as u re of Brand es in the sa me turn in which he had crashe d ea rlie r, m oving in to th e runner-up positio n. Wi th the lea der now in his sig h t, Ca rmichae l began to hound Butto n for the top spot, eventually tak ing the position wi th an ins ide block pa ss in a tight, left-handed tu rn a p p roac hing Budds Creek's monstrous tabletop jump. " I kind of overjumped the double just before the turn a nd th a t allowed Ricky to get on th e inside of me: ' Butto n said lat er. Wi th cl e ar tra ck a head of h im , Carmichael pu t his head d own and contin ued to charge, increasing his lead on Butt on by as much as a second a lap as Bro wn, w ho c1iarged ba ck from outside the top 10 after falling early in th e mot o, attacked Dowd for third .