James Stewart made his debut in this year’s outdoor series, but that wasn’t the biggest news at Budds Creek, Maryland. Instead the talk focused on an off-track scuffle between Ryan Hughes and Mike Brown. The two riders collided several times during Saturday’s practice session, including once when Brown reportedly knocked Hughes over a berm and caused him to crash. Already, Hughes is riding with a broken bone in his lower leg, and that injury was expected to cost him a shot at his first-ever 125cc AMA National Championship. During this past week, Hughes was fitted with a special brace made by Allsports Dynamics, and he wanted to gain a few points before the series takes a three-week break before Red Bud in Michigan. However, the pain proved too much, and Hughes decided at the last minute not to race. As of now it’s not known when he will be back, but he does have some time to heal before the next race. To add insult to injury, AMA’s Duke Finch put Hughes on indefinite suspension for his involvement in the scuffle with Brown.Up until this point, the 125cc title chase has been a two-man battle. Everyone expected Stewart to dominate the class once he healed from his broken collarbone, but many wondered if he would have a legitimate chance at the title. It’s a longshot of epic proportions, but if something were to happen to Brown and Langston, there is an outside chance we could see Stewart repeat as champ. Remember, we said it’s a huge longshot, but stranger things have happened.Stewart trailed Kelly Smith at the start of the first moto and quickly worked his way into the lead. He rode by himself the entire moto and went on to win by an impressive 40 seconds. Stewart is so quick that many wondered what would happen if he ever got a bad start. Well, the fans at Budds Creek found out when the 17-year-old superstar fell in the first turn of the second moto. Stewart picked up his Jeremy Albrecht-tuned KX125 in 39th place and by the end of the first lap was in 20th. A lap later he was up to 14th, and by the third lap he was in the top 10. It was on the 10th of 15 laps that he took the lead away from Ivan Tedesco. Stewart’s 1-1 gave him the overall win.South Africa’s Grant Langston finished second overall and picked up several valuable championship points on Mike Brown. The former 125cc World Champion went 2-3, and would have won the overall had Stewart not shown up.Ivan Tedesco rounded out the podium with a 6-2. Tedesco led nine laps in the second moto, but couldn’t keep up with Stewart who passed 38 riders to take the win. Brown had an off day and finished fifth in both motos. He still expanded on his points lead, but did allow Grant Langston to make up some ground. Langston moved from third to second in the point standings and now trails Brown 173-188. Hughes (151) dropped to third ahead of Frenchman Eric Sorby (145). Stewart is 17th in the standings with 50 points. With seven rounds remaining, Stewart would only gain 42 points on the title if he were to win every moto, and Brown were to take second each time. We broke out the calculator and found out that Brown could finish fifth all the way to the end of the season and still beat Stewart. That means Langston becomes the only real threat at this point to battle Brown for the title unless Hughes comes back strong on the July 4 weekend event at Michigan’s famous Red Bud circuit.Team Honda’s Ricky Carmichael continued his win streak he started in 2001 by claiming yet another overall in the 250cc class, but it wasn’t easy. Tim Ferry beat Carmichael in the first moto after RC suffered a sub-par start and then fell while chasing down the factory Yamaha rider. Unfortunately for Ferry, he was involved in a second moto, first turn pileup that took him out of the overall picture. The first moto loss was only the second time RC has been beaten in a moto in a year and a half off National racing. This past May Kevin Windham beat RC on Mother’s Day in the first moto at Glen Helen, and might have won the overall, had he not jumped off the track while leading the final race off the day.Team Sobe Suzuki’s Stephane Roncada was a surprise second place. After suffering bike problems in the 125cc class, Roncada made the jump to the injury-riddled 250cc team and put in his best overall since battling with Travis Pastrana for the 125cc National Championship. Roncada finished 4-2 to edge out Windham’s 3-4.The ugliest crash of the day involved Mike LaRocco. The Rock cartwheeled his works Honda down the start/finish hill and it went into the crowd. LaRocco got up and finished an unlucky 13th overall with a 7-21 tally.Carmichael’s win allowed him to expand his points lead over Kevin Windham. Out of a possible 250 points, RC has 244 while Windham has 191. Chad Reed is third with 186.RESULTS
125cc: 1. James Stewart (1-1); 2. Grant Langston (2-3); 3. Ivan Tedesco (6-2); 4. Mike Brown (5-5); 5. Eric Sorby (7-6); 6. Steve Boniface (3-12); 7. Brian Gray (11-8); 8. Darryle Hurley (14-7); 9. Andrew Short (9-14); 10. Brock Sellards (38-4); 11. Steve Lamson (13-11); 12. Michael Brandes (4-37); 13. Matthieu Lalloz (12-13); 14. Bret Metcalfe (17-9); 15. Craig Anderson (8-21); 16. Michael Byrne (21-10); 17. R. Kiniry (15-16); 18. Steven Mertens (10-36); 19. Keith Johnson (18-15); 20. Chris Gosselaar (16-39).250cc: 1. Ricky Carmichael (2-1); 2. Stephane Roncada (4-2); 3. Kevin Windham (3-4); 4. Chad Reed (5-3); 5. David Vuillemin (6-5); 6. Ernesto Fonseca (9-8); 7. Tim Ferry (1-35); 8. Nathan Ramsey (14-6); 9. John Dowd (13-7); 10. Ezra Lusk (12-9); 11. Joquim Rodriques (10-14); 12. Clark Stiles (16-10); 13. Mike LaRocco (7-21); 14. Larry Ward (8-39); 15. Jim Israel (22-11); 16. Kyle Lewis (19-13); 17. Nick Wey (11-34); 18. Josh Demuth (23-12); 19. Keith Johnson (15-19); 20. Jason Thomas (20-15).POINT STANDINGS
125cc: 1. Mike Brown (188); 2. Grant Langston (173); 3. Ryan Hughes (151); 4. Eric Sorby (145); 5. Brock Sellards (117); 6. Ivan Tedesco (109); 7. Michael Brandes (108); 8. Michael Byrne (104); 9. Steve Boniface (101); 10. Craig Anderson (100); 11. Bret Metcalfe (88); 12. Stephane Roncada (77); 13. Chris Gosselaar (77); 14. Andrew Short (75); 15. Darryl Hurley (57); 16. Brian Gray (55); 17. James Stewart (50); 18. Steve Mertens (50); 19. Ryan Mills (49); 20. Kelly Smith (47).250cc: 1. Ricky Carmichael (244); 2. Kevin Windham (191); 3. Chad Reed (186); 4. Tim Ferry (174); 5. Mike LaRocco (138); 6. Ezra Lusk (118); 7. David Vuillemin (111); 8. John Dowd (111); 9. Ernesto Fonseca (103); 10. Larry Ward (100); 11. Nick Wey (76); 12. Nathan Ramsey (74); 13. Sean Hamblin (66); 14. Joquim Rodriques (60); 15. Clark Stiles (45); 16. Kyle Lewis (45); 17. Stephane Roncada (40); 18. Sebastien Tortelli (33); 19. Keith Johnson (30); 20. Bobby Bonds (30).NOTES-Ernesto Fonseca has resigned with Team Honda and will rejoin Nathan Ramsey and Ricky Carmichael working out of the factory semi.-Seven-time AMA Supercross Champion Jeremy McGrath has hired Chad Watts to work on his supermoto bikes. Watts had worked with Ricky Carmichael until earlier this year when the two ran into personal problems. McGrath has put together a racing team with Jeff Ward and famed helmet painter Troy Lee for the inaugural AMA Red Bull Supermoto Series-With many of the top riders signing deals for 2004, a lot of the major teams are filling up fast. So far Stephane Roncada and Ezra Lusk do not have deals for next year’s season.