Reed also took the honor of winning the first-ever Daytona supercross “under the lights,” and he is the first-ever Australian to do so. After last year’s Daytona 200 caused a one-day delay due to heavy rain, event planners moved the supercross from Saturday afternoon to Friday night, and the 200 to Saturday. Staying an extra day at Daytona Beach is expensive and can be a frustrating experience since everything is booked solid.
“It’s a lot different for me to be here today and not have my gear on,” said Carmichael, “It’s a bit frustrating, because I love this place and being that this is my home state – I live in Florida, and was born and raised here. So it’s real difficult for me not to be racing, and I wish I could participate.”
Even though the current champion Carmichael is out, Travis Pastrana returned to racing and brought the premier 250 some excitement. Pastrana, who is as well-known for his gutsy freestyle tricks like backflips as he is for supercross, has been out of racing since last May due to knee injuries. He was pitted with the factory Suzuki team, somewhat picking up where he left off.
Reed won his heat race easily. The second 250 heat featured an extended and close battle between Kevin Windham and Pastrana. Pastrana pressured Windham lap after lap, much to the delight of the crowd. Near the end, Windham made a mistake and went off the track briefly, handing the heat race win to Pastrana.
In the main, Reed again took the lead immediately and was followed by Pastrana, Sean Hamblin, Craig Anderson, Michael Byrne, and his Yamaha teammate David Vuillemin. LaRocco and Windham were not far behind, but passing at this rough, sandy track can take time drain a rider’s energy.
Pastrana rode a great pace until the midway point. Reed slowly pulled away and seemed to have no one to challenge him. Pastrana started getting tired about the halfway point and then made a mistake and fell, then he got going again but started going backwards. He eventually finished 10th.
Windham was charging hard the whole time and worked his way up to second. Reed had such a strong lead, he had time to get back up after a hard fall and still stayed in the lead, even though he was visibly in pain and stopped jumping some of the obstacles. LaRocco made a pass on Vuillemin for third on lap 10 and finished there. With 4 laps to go, Grant Langston then caught Vuillemin after charging up from the back and took 4th.
“I’m just feeling the effects of it. I made a small little mistake,” said Reed of his crash, “I’m just happy to be able to make a silly mistake like that and still go on to win. I started next to Kevin and I knew the four stroke would be strong down the start straight. I got a great start. There was one other rider – he’s actually my cousin (Anderson) – I almost came together with him. I was happy to keep it on two wheels and make a good push from the beginning. It was a goal this year to come to Daytona and win and I’m real happy to be able to do that.”
“I wasn’t worried about him catching me,” said Reed about Windham closing in after that crash, “I had a decent lead. (The crash) took my breath away. I was kind of struggling standing up and sitting down. It was a track where you need to stand up and sit down a lot. It just made it tough for me. I just had to kind of dig deep and get through it.”
“I definitely think the people who work hard and train hard win Daytona,” said Reed, “That’s why Ricky (Carmichael) has so many wins. (And) people like Jeff Stanton and those guys. It’s definitely a race with a lot of history. I’m real proud to be a part of that now. I’m the first one to get the night event as well. I’m excited for the future of the event.”
“I was watching him the whole race,” said Windham, “I got in second, I’m not sure what lap it was but it was too late. (My) ninth place start was horrible. I got a late jump. Reed and I were starting next to each other and I think he was over the gate before I even moved. It was horrible. I was very disappointed with that. It can be so hard to work to get second. When you’re in the lead, that’s the easy scenario to gap the field as quick as you can, put in some hard laps and then cruise around. Obviously that was what he was able to do. He was able to fall and still win. I was frustrated with that. I knew where he was at. I was happy with the way I rode other than the start. That was the downfall.”
“It’s definitely one race that I want to win,” said the veteran LaRocco, who celebrated his 200th career 250 main supercross start, “Tonight, I really didn’t have the speed. I knew I just wanted to get out on the start and smooth things out and try to stay strong. It didn’t work. I was clumsy early. I snagged a hay bail by my front brake and made things harder on myself. But it turned out all right.”
LaRocco is 33 and more 250 supercross starts than anyone in the sport’s 30 year history.
THQ World Supercross Series/THQ AMA Supercross Series Event Results, Daytona
1. Chad Reed, Dade City, Fla., Yamaha
2. Kevin Windham, Centerville, Miss., Honda
3. Mike LaRocco, Corona, Calif., Honda
4. David Vuillemin, Murrieta, Calif., Yamaha
5. Nick Wey, Dewitt, Mich., Suzuki
6. Michael Byrne, Temecula, Calif., Kawasaki
7. Grant Langston, Lake Elsinore, Calif., KTM
8. Heath Voss, Mico, Texas, Yamaha
9. Nathan Ramsey, Menifee, Calif., Honda
10. Travis A Pastrana, Davidsonville, Md., Suzuki
THQ AMA Supercross Series Season Standings
1. Chad Reed, Dade City, Fla., Yamaha, 241
2. Kevin Windham, Centerville, Miss., Honda, 212
3. David Vuillemin, Murrieta, Calif., Yamaha, 188
4. Mike LaRocco, Corona, Calif., Honda, 187
5. Michael Byrne, Temecula, Calif., Kawasaki, 136
6. Nick Wey, Dewitt, Mich., Suzuki, 121
7. Damon Huffman, Valencia, Calif., Honda, 111
8. Heath Voss, Mico, Texas, Yamaha, 109
9. Grant Langston, Lake Elsinore, Calif., KTM, 88
10. Sean Hamblin, Murrieta, Calif., Suzuki, 88
THQ World Supercross GP Season Standings
Note: This did not change due to Daytona not participating in World Supercross
1. Damon Huffman, Valencia, Calif., Honda, 221
2. Heath Voss, Mico, Texas, Yamaha, 202
3. Grant Langston, Temecula, Calif., KTM, 188
4. Tyler Evans, Canyon Lake, Calif., Suzuki, 183
5. Ryan Clark, Albuquerque, N.M., Yamaha, 133
6. Keith Johnson, Albuquerque, N.M., Yamaha, 124
7. Erick Vallejo, Dallas, Texas, Yamaha, 110
8. Mike Brown, Johnson City, Tenn., Yamaha, 95
9. Andrew Short, Colorado Springs, Colo., Suzuki, 88
10. Joe Oehlhof, Hesperia, Calif., Honda, 85
Stewart’s only competition is still the 250 class lap times, which he tries to beat each week. This time he set the fastest lap of the night in his heat race, with a lap time that was over a second better than 250 class winner Chad Reed’s best.
Stewart probably could have won the race easily from the back, but he made it worse on his competition by making a bold move in the first turn that put him from midpack to the front, then he just checked out.
After a lap, Josh Hansen was in second, followed by Michael Blose, Steve Lamson, and rookie Davi Millsaps, his best start of his short career so far. Millsaps factory Suzuki teammate, Bric Hepler, who came into the weekend with an impressive second in points, crashed in both his heat race and the LCQ, so he was out for the main and didn’t earn points.
Ryan Mills was deep in the pack after the first lap, but he was charging hard and moving up steadily, eventually finishing an impressive 5th.
Stewart still runs the #259 on his bike even though he has earned national numbers. He does this in tribute to his friend Tony Haines, who was a fast rider in Florida but suffered an injury that put him in a wheelchair. Stewart still like his friend Haines around and they talk about strategy. Stewart gave Haines credit for planning how to get a good start.
“The start of the race was planned,” said Stewart, “I was talking to my friend Tony Haynes and I was like I was going to go the right out the box and he said ‘no no no don’t do that cause your not going to get the holeshot.” Just go up there and let those guys bunch up and just creep around the inside. ‘ So I did it in the heat race too and in the main. I got a good jump but I spun on the grass a little bit so from there I just rode my own race.”
Stewart‘s first two seasons as a pro started in the west region, so he hasn‘t had a chance to race Daytona. “(It is) definitely a lot different,” he said, “I struggled through practice and stuff. I just got out and rode my own race. It’s a lot different. All the training and stuff paid off and I felt good the whole race.”
He didn’t have any problems with the difficult track, except the traffic, “It wasn’t really the track, it was some of the lappers,” he said, “You’re out there in your own pace and just getting out there jump ons and jump offs, and when you catch up with a lapper you have to roll a section and the hardest thing was trying to get your rhythm back up and trying to flow again and this track is so grueling and stuff you want to be able to do everything smoothly every lap.”
Second place was a huge relief for rookie Davi Millsaps. After a great amateur career, just like his teammate Hepler, Millsaps was feeling the pressure at his first race in Minneapolis a few weeks ago and his results have been disappointed. Daytona turned that around for him. “I’m real stoked,” he said, “Hopefully my mom is. She was kinda bummed the last two races. It was kinda weird going from amateur winning a lot of races and going to pro and getting 14th and 21st. It’s kind of hard to jump in with these guys, Bubba Stewart and Hanson and everyone else out there. They are great riders so we’ll see what happens next week.”
Finishing on the podium for the second time was Josh Hansen, who held on to third after Millsaps passed him. “I started off the race and got a pretty decent start. Davi got around me and I paced off him. I guess I need to make my outdoor stuff a little better. Davi checked out on me and so did James. So I don’t know, I thought it was a good race. It was definitely tiring and definitely a big learning experience from last weekend. I learned a lot up there in second and threw it away like halfway through about five laps to go, Got back into third and crashed again so definitely I was coming in on top of things and I’m looking forward to next week.”
All three top finishers were racing Daytona for the first time.
THQ AMA Supercross Series 125cc Eastern Regional Event Results, Daytona
1. James Stewart, Haines City, Fla., Kawasaki
2. Davi Millsaps, Cairo, Ga., Suzuki
3. Josh Hansen, Elbert, Co., Yamaha
4. Michael Blose, Phoenix, Ariz., Yamaha
5. Ryan Mills, Clintondale, N.Y., Honda
6. Eric Sorby, Murrieta, Calif., Kawasaki
7. Danny Smith, Middleton, Idaho, Yamaha
8. Brett Metcalfe, Murrieta, Calif., KTM
9. Kelly Smith, Ludington, Mich., Yamaha
10. Daryl Hurley, Corona, Ca., Suzuki
THQ AMA Supercross Series 125cc Eastern Regional Season Standings
1. James Stewart, Haines City, Fla., Kawasaki, 100
2. Eric Sorby, Murrieta, Calif., Kawasaki, 59
3. Broc Hepler, Kittanning, Pa., Suzuki, 57
4. Steve Lamson, Camino, Calif., Honda, 46
5. Danny Smith, Middleton, Idaho, Yamaha, 46
6. Ryan Mills, Clintondale, N.Y., Honda, 43
7. Kelly Smith, Ludington, Mich., Yamaha, 43
8. Ryan Clark, Albuquerque, N.M., Yamaha, 36
9. Paul Carpenter, Ithaca, N.Y., Kawasaki, 35
10. Brett Metcalfe, Murrieta, Calif., KTM, 32
Texts and photos by Steve Bruhn