It all came together for Team Amsoil/Factory Connection/Honda’s Mike LaRocco at Anaheim 2, as the 31-year-old came from behind to score his first 250cc SX win in over seven years. LaRocco gated mid-pack, but charged through the field in typical LaRocco fashion and ran down Yamaha’s David Vuillemin for the win.
“I decided that second and thirds were not good enough,” said a happy LaRocco after the race. “I’ve been feeling good and now that I see the light at the end of the tunnel, I want to win some races before I’m through.”
Travis Pastrana and Kevin Windham ran away with the first two positions early in the race, but Pastrana took over the lead on lap five and began to pull away from his Cajun teammate. As expected, Windham began to slow and eventually faded to 10th, but Pastrana ran strong until a miscalculation sent him cartwheeling across the track. Vuillemin took over and looked to have the race in the bag, but LaRocco turned up the heat and ran the Frenchman down.
For Vuillemin, it was a wonder he was racing at all.”I was at the gym last Sunday stretching, and my knee popped out of its socket,” said the Cobra. “I flew to France that night to get it fixed by my own doctor, then flew back home on Tuesday. My leg got a little tired, but other than that it was good. If you had told me on Sunday night that I would finish second at Anaheim 2, I would have never believed it.”
Team Honda’s Nathan Ramsey looked to have third wrapped up and was excited about his first trip to the podium in the 250cc class, but Pastrana ran him high on the last lap in the corner after the whoops and knocked Nate Dog to the ground.
“I am really sorry about what happened with Ramsey,” said Pastrana. “But I was coming in hot and it was a decision that I had to make if I want to be in the championship hunt.”
Ricky Carmichael, who is still feeling the effects of his Anaheim 1 crash, benefited from Ramsey’s crash and inherited fourth. Nate Dog got up to save fifth.
Jeremy McGrath improved upon his San Diego finish by one, earning a distant – and disappointing – ninth.
In the 125cc West main, a first-turn crash by James Stewart left the door wide open for Team KTM’s David Pingree. The class veteran scored a popular win ahead of Stewart, who passed 20 riders en route to an incredible runner-up finish. Team Yamaha of Troy’s Ivan Tedesco was third.
250 main: 1. Mike LaRocco (Hon); 2. David Vuillemin (Yam); 3. Travis Pastrana (Suz); 4. Ricky Carmichael (Hon); 5. Nathan Ramsey (Hon); 6. Ezra Lusk (Kaw); 7. Stephane Roncada (Kaw); 8. Chad Reed (Yam); 9. Jeremy McGrath (Yam); 10. Kevin Windham (Suz); 11. Heath Voss (Hon); 12. Damon Huffman (Suz); 13. Tim Ferry (Yam); 14. Mike Craig (Suz); 15. Nick Wey (Yam); 16. Tyler Evans (Hus); 17. Kyle Lewis (Hon); 18. Jean Sebastien Roy (Hon); 19. Michael Byrne (Hon); 20. Mike Brown (Kaw).
125 main: 1. David Pingree (KTM); 2. James Stewart (KAw); 3. Ivan Tedesco (Yam); 4. Casey Lytle (Yam); 5. Matt Walker (Kaw).
250 points: 1. Vuillemin (72); 2. LaRocco (67); 3. Lusk (45); 4. Reed (44); 5. Pastrana (44); 6. Carmichael (37); 7. Ramsey (33); 8. Huffman (31); 9. McGrath (31)