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Sep 24, 2010

Chris Ulrich Having A Tough Time At Barber Motorsports Park After Suffering Two 125-mph Crashes In Two Weeks

Chris Ulrich (18) during better times on his Team M4 Monster Energy Suzuki GSX-R1000 Superbike.
AMA Pro National Guard Superbike racer Chris Ulrich has had one his best seasons ever as a Pro in 2010.

The Californian started his year off by taking sixth in the AMA Pro Superbike race at Daytona International Speedway, and he followed that up with 13 more top-10 finishes that enabled him to maintain seventh in the Championship point standings heading into the penultimate round of the series.

But two 125-mph crashes in the span of two weeks this month have left the Californian battered, bruised and in pain at the season finale.

Ulrich was running seventh and racing with his M4 Monster Energy Suzuki teammate John Hopkins and Rockstar Makita Suzuki's Blake Young for fifth in AMA Pro Superbike Race One September 4 at New Jersey Motorsports Park when on lap nine he lost the front end of his GSX-R1000 in the final corner, crashed at 125 mph and tumbled into a haybale-fronted trackside barrier.

X-rays revealed that Ulrich had broken no bones, but he suffered extensive bruising. Still, Ulrich raced the next day and finished ninth in spite of significant pain.

Then on Friday, September 17, Ulrich, who is also the Racing Editor of Roadracing World magazine, was riding at a press introduction at Willow Springs International Raceway when he hit someone else's oil on the track and highsided at an estimated 125 mph.

Initially, Ulrich's biggest injury concern from the new crash was a painful right foot and ankle, which he improved somewhat with intensive therapy over the past week, but when he tried to ride during AMA Pro Superbike practice Friday at Barber Motorsports Park intense pain in his left hip told he had even more problems than he originally thought.

"The first time I hit the bump coming up and over the bridge it was a pretty big shock to the system," said Ulrich. "It's surprising to me, because I feel like I've ridden in a lot of pain before, like when I raced Sunday at New Jersey, but this is different. It's really intense."

The pain was so intense that Ulrich stopped after a few laps of practice Friday and went to the infield medical center at Barber Motorsports Park. X-rays did not find any broken bones, but they confirmed Ulrich had a deep bone bruise on the lower left portion of his pelvis.

Ulrich changed from a thinly-padded Superbike seat to a plusher streetbike seat and received a pain-killing injection, but that only provided a minimal amount of relief during the following qualifying session, in which Ulrich finished 14th.

"It's right where you sit when you hang off," said Ulrich, "and you sit in that position a lot and put a lot of weight on it around here. Plus, I'm already having trouble putting weight on the pegs because my left ankle was messed up in the New Jersey crash and my right one got messed up in the Willow crash.

"It's hard to maintain a high level of concentration while I'm riding due to the pain, and it's hard to do what I need to do while I'm riding because my body's so beat up. And it all equates to going slow.

"I'm going to ride tomorrow morning and qualify and see how it goes, because doing a few laps is a lot different than doing 21 laps [race distance]."