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Ricky Carmichael's Views on His Very Successful 2001 Supercross Season

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Uploaded on Oct 16, 2010

In 2001, Chevy Trucks Kawasaki's Ricky Carmichael surprised us all, including the sport's icon, Jeremy McGrath with 14 wins in the 16 races, and the last 13 on the season, which tied him with Jeremy McGrath's 1996 record of 13 consecutive Supercross wins in one season. Ricky won his first 250cc championship over the summer with the 250cc Outdoor National Championship in his rookie year in 2000, finishing out that season with 6 consecutive overall wins, 9 on the season, setting a new record for most wins in a rookie 250cc/450cc Outdoor National season; ironically, Suzuki's Ryan Dungey broke that record this past summer with 10.

Ricky backed that first championship up with wins for Team U.S.A. at the 2000 MX des Nations, and the 2000 U.S. Open. Coming into the 2001 season, he would step up his game to challenge the 7-time Supercross Champion, Jeremy McGrath, and beat him at his own game... giving Kawasaki their first 250cc Supercross championship since Jeff Emig in '97; at Anaheim 3, Ricky also gave Kawasaki back-to-back wins in Supercross (winning Phoenix the week before) for the first time since Jeff Ward in 1987.

Later that summer, after a bumpy start to the 2001 Motocross season with overall finishes of a 4th at Glen Helen, 2nd at Hangtown, and 5th at Mt. Morris, and moto finishes of 8-1 (4th overall), 5-1 (2nd) and 13-1 (5th), Carmichael won his 2nd consecutive 250cc Motocross championship winning 8 of the last 9 Nationals (7 250cc), including the first 5 from Southwick - Troy, and even made history along the way.

At the Red Bud National that year in 2001, Carmichael tied Bob Hannah for the all-time record of 37 National wins in his career with a 1-1 sweep. At the next round at Unadilla, Carmichael surpassed that record with a 2-2 for the overall win, also marking the first ever overall win for Ricky without winning at least one moto... including 25 career 125cc wins at the time. His only loss came at the Washougal National with a 2-2 to Suzuki's Kevin Windham with a 1-1 sweep. Carmichael would win the last 3 Nationals of the 2001 season, including a 125cc overall win at the grand finale at Steel City, while riding out of Mitch Payton's Pro Circuit Kawasaki team. A 3-1 was good enough for Ricky to surpass Mark Barnett's record of 25 career all-time 125cc National victories with his 26th win on that day in September 2001; ironically, Kawasaki-mounted James Stewart eclipsed that record in 2004 with 28 125cc National victories.

From 2002-2006, Carmichael was able to put together a string of 5 consecutive seasons of at least 6 straight 250cc/450cc overall wins together, including 3 perfect seasons in 2002, and 2004-2005. In 2002, while riding for Team Honda, Carmichael won Honda's first 250cc Supercross championship since Jeremy McGrath in 1996, and their first 250cc National championship since McGrath in 1995. At the High Point National in 2003, Ricky surpassed the great Jeremy McGrath with his 90th career Supercross/Motocross career victory, to Jeremy's 89 (72 Supercross, 17 Motocross) with a 1-1 sweep in a battle with a new and improved Kevin Windham. After a torn ACL in his knee ended his 2004 Supercross season before it even began, Ricky came back for the Outdoor Nationals that summer aboard a 450cc bike and became the first rider ever to win 100 career Supercross/Motocross combined races at the Budds Creek National in 2004; he later became the first rider to achieve a perfect season aboard a 4-stroke (riding a 2-stroke CR250 to his first perfect season in 2002). At the same race track 3 years later in 2007 (while riding for Makita Suzuki for an abbreviated season), Carmichael won his 100th Motocross National alone with a 2-1 for the overall win, to James Stewart's 1-2.

In 2005, Carmichael made the switch to the Makita Suzuki team and won Suzuki their first Supercross championship since Mark Barnett in 1981; he also won his first ever World Supercross Championship winning all but 1 race. Later that summer, aboard the new Suzuki RMZ-450, Carmichael earned his 3rd perfect National season, winning 22 of the 24 motos with losses in first motos at Southwick and Unadilla to Yamaha-mounted Chad Reed (Southwick), and Amsoil Honda's Kevin Windham (Unadilla). At the time, Ricky won Suzuki its first National championship since Greg Albertyn in 1999. Carmichael backed that up with his 3rd U.S. Open win, and his first since 2001; it was also Ricky's first ever Grand Slam, winning the World Supercross, AMA Supercross, National Outdoor, and U.S. Open Championships.

ESPN2's Art Eckman sat down with the newly crowned 2001 250cc Supercross Champion to hear his thoughts on how his Supercross season went and how it felt to beat the sport's greatest... Jeremy McGrath. Take a look.

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