Big E’s Race Report: Phoenix

I had a feeling today was going to be a good day. To start off with, GuyB and I decided we would eat breakfast at my favorite place, the world-famous Waffle House. Right as we got out of the truck I bagged my first mullet photo of the day, and proceeded to have the best breakfast I’ve had since uh…well, the last time I was at the Waffle House. It doesn’t get any better than this—Waffle House and SX.

In The Pits

Yesterday, Michael Byrne apparently lost control in practice and drilled Grant Langston in the back of the same knee that he had surgery on a couple of times last year. Grant told me that it was not going to be an excuse tonight.

Chad Reed and Ricky Carmichael had also apparently hooked up in a Friday duel that more closely resembled a bonus main event than a Friday practice session.

All the riders I talked to told me that they liked the track. There was a lot of rhythm in the design of it, and the riders are having fun with the different possibilities of linking everything up.

Saturday practice in Phoenix went off without any major happenings, save for the fact that Ezra Lusk crashed and practically ripped off all of his plastic on the right side of his bike! Both Brock Sellards and Steve Lamson had to ride the qualifiers for the night program. Brock qualified (and eventually made the main), while Steve cased a triple and re-broke the leg he’d injured last year at the San Diego SX. I spoke to Mike Craig, Steve’s T.M. and he told me that the bone cracked all the way around the rod that was still intact in Steve’s leg from the last time he broke it. Ouch! Mike told me he should be back in a month. Take some time Steve, no need to come back too soon.

Heat Races

With the roof of Bank One Ballpark wide open, the heat races got underway. In the first 125cc heat race, James Stewart cranked out a holeshot and never looked back. After three laps he had somewhere around a ten-second lead with a 53.08 lap time. Ridiculous.

The second heat race was won by Chris Gosselaar, followed by his teammate Travis Preston.


In the first 250cc heat race, there was a great duel between Ricky Carmichael and Travis Pastrana, with lots of great moves by the both of them. Then, about halfway through, both of them went down. I think they tangled! They both got up without missing a beat, but it was too late. Though Ricky did chase down new leader Grant Langston, he could not put the pass on the South African. Grant Langston wins! This was a fun race to watch.


The next heat race saw Ezra Lusk give chase to Chad Reed, and most of the time the two were so close together, you could throw a towel over them. Ezra was clearly the faster of the two and it showed on the last lap, as Lusk charged through the whoops and went under Reed in the next turn. After a little bump-and-run, Yogi took the win! You could tell that Chad had no idea that Ezra had it in him. This was also a great race to watch. Man, it was on!

The Mains

As the 125cc main got underway, Yamaha of Troy’s Craig Anderson nabbed the holeshot, with Matt Walker glued to his rear fender. James Stewart was back around sixth or seventh place, with Travis Preston in fourth. With one lap down it was Anderson, Walker, and Steve Mertens. James Stewart had put himself in fourth already!

On the fourth lap, Walker passed Anderson for the lead, and Stewart was gaining on Anderson. Preston was not letting Stewart get out of his sight. Stewart almost went for the pass, but lost momentum as he clipped a jump. On lap five, Stewart got by Anderson, and his sights were set on Walker. Travis Preston was still hanging around in back of Stewart.

Lap six, and Stewart went by Walker, placing himself in the lead. Walker was trying hard to not l Stewart get too far away. Preston went by Anderson and is now in third place. James Stewart is now starting to open up a sizeable lead on the rest of the field.

Lap nine saw Preston all over the fender of Matt Walker, Stewart was pulling away even further now.

As lap 11 came up, and Stewart fell! Quickly, he regained his composure and didn’t miss a beat. Almost lap 12 and Preston and Walker got together, Walker went down and Preston stayed up. Wow!

On lap 12, Josh Woods hit the mat and nearly took Sean Hamblin with him. Speaking of Hamy, he was quietly making his way through the pack. Poor Matt Walker was back in 16th place. Hamblin looked to be gaining ground on Preston, but the white flag came out and there was not enough time to make something happen to grab the final podium spot.

Stewart was busting nac-nacs on the final lap—apparently doing them all practice long was not enough! He deserves a ticket from the trick police for too many nac-nacs in a row. He got a “get out of jail” card though, after he started doing Michael Jackson-inspired moves atop the podium. Bubba later told me that he has been up at night practicing in front of mirrors to look so good doing it. Nice moves, James!


125cc Main—Phoenix (West round 2)

  1. James “Bubba” Stewart (Kaw)
  2. Travis Preston (Hon)
  3. Danny Smith (Suz)
  4. Sean Hamblin (Suz)
  5. Kevin W. Johnson (Yam)
  6. Craig Anderson (Yam)
  7. Eric Sorby (Kaw)
  8. Steve Mertens (Yam)
  9. Andrew Short (Suz)
  10. Billy Laninovich (KTM)
  11. Travis Elliot (Yam)
  12. Chris Gosselaar (Hon)
  13. Josh Hansen (Yam)
  14. Matt Walker (Kaw)
  15. Turbo Reif (Yam)
  16. Tiger Lacey (Yam)
  17. David Pingree (Suz)
  18. Tyler Evans (Suz)
  19. Josh Woods (KTM)
  20. Akira Narita (Suz)
  21. Pascal Leuret (KTM)
  22. Tommy Harrison (Suz)

When the gate dropped in the 250cc main event, Chad Reed went right to the front of the pack. Lusk, Carmichael, Fonseca, Vuillemin and Tim Ferry rounded out the top six on lap one.

A few laps in, it was apparent that Lusk was totally faster than Reed through the whoops. After three laps were completed, Langston went down hard. Poor Zulu.

Ezra Lusk looked like someone lit a fire under him, he is riding awesome! Lap 6 and Ezra showed Reed his front wheel and the crowed was screaming. This could be Ezra’s night, as he was climbing all over the back of Chad Reed. You could throw a blanket over Reed, Lusk and Carmichael.


Lap seven started and just as Carmichael rounded the first turn, he fell! Three riders got past him; Fonseca, Ferry and Vuiellmin, until he started motoring again.

Ezra bobbles a little on lap ten, and Ricky was on the move, he passed Vuillemin and moved into fourth place. Chad Reed put about two seconds between him and Ezra, and lapped riders were starting to come into play.

On lap 17 Ezra went for a move on Chad Reed and made it stick. There was contact on the pass, and I couldn’t believe the fickle crowd was not booing him too. Ezra, in my opinion, was riding better than he had since the ’99 battles with McGrath.

It looked like Carmichael was trying too hard. He clipped a jump and came so close to endoing on lap 17.

Lap 18, Reed bobbles a bit and gives more ground to Lusk. This race has my adrenaline pumping! Lapped riders are all over in front of Ezra and Chad, it could go either way. Checkers for Ezra! This has to be one of the most exiting races since Ricky and MC went at it at Anaheim 3 two years ago!

250cc Main—Phoenix (Round 4)

  1. Ezra Lusk (Kaw)
  2. Chad Reed (Yam)
  3. Tim Ferry (Yam)
  4. Ricky Carmichael (Hon)
  5. David Vuillemin (Yam)
  6. Sebastian Tortelli (Suz)
  7. Mike LaRocco (Hon)
  8. Ernesto Fonseca (Hon)
  9. Ivan Tedesco (Yam)
  10. Brock Sellards (Yam)
  11. Michael Byrne (Hon)
  12. Travis Pastrana (Suz)
  13. Stephane Roncada (Suz)
  14. Damon Huffman (Hon)
  15. Keith R. Johnson (Yam)
  16. Ryan Clark (Yam)
  17. Steve Boniface (KTM)
  18. Mike Brown (Kaw)
  19. Nick Wey (Yam)
  20. Grant Langston (KTM)

Ezra Lusk hadn’t won a 250cc main event in four years. Ricky Carmichael went 24-0 this past summer and is now 0-3 since the U.S. Open. I can’t remember when Ricky finished off the podium. Who could have ever dreamt such a thing? Stay tuned as the series moves back to Anaheim next Saturday for Round 5.

Talk to you then!

an Tortelli (Suz)

  • Mike LaRocco (Hon)
  • Ernesto Fonseca (Hon)
  • Ivan Tedesco (Yam)
  • Brock Sellards (Yam)
  • Michael Byrne (Hon)
  • Travis Pastrana (Suz)
  • Stephane Roncada (Suz)
  • Damon Huffman (Hon)
  • Keith R. Johnson (Yam)
  • Ryan Clark (Yam)
  • Steve Boniface (KTM)
  • Mike Brown (Kaw)
  • Nick Wey (Yam)
  • Grant Langston (KTM)
  • Ezra Lusk hadn’t won a 250cc main event in four years. Ricky Carmichael went 24-0 this past summer and is now 0-3 since the U.S. Open. I can’t remember when Ricky finished off the podium. Who could have ever dreamt such a thing? Stay tuned as the series moves back to Anaheim next Saturday for Round 5.

    Talk to you then!