DNF.

Those are three letters athletes never want to see next their names. They stand for "Did Not Finish."

Perhaps the only initials more upsetting are DNS, as in "Did Not Start."

The following is a quick synopsis of AMA Motocross standout James "Bubba" Stewart's performances at the Unadilla Valley Sports Complex the past three years:

2005: Stewart's motorcycle hits the head the Ricky Carmichael on the 12th lap of the first moto, sending both riders crashing to the dirt. Stewart suffers a cut over his left eye and is sent to a Utica-area hospital as a precaution.

2006: Stewart crashes during a race-day practice and does not compete.

2007: Stewart lands on his head during a race-day practice, does not compete and is sent to an area hospital.

For those keeping score, that's a DNF and two DNSes over the past three seasons. And this is from no ordinary rider on the AMA Toyota Motorcross Championship circuit, which makes its annual stop at the UVSC on Sunday.

Stewart, of Haines City, Fla., is his sport's signature star, the guy who earned the 2007 Supercross points championship and has won all 14 motos this season en route to seven victories and a 105-point lead over second-place Tim Ferry through seven events.

Stewart was so dominant last week at Budds Creek that he won both motos by a combined 42 seconds at the track in Mechanicsville, Md.

But given Stewart's recent history at Unadilla, the 20,000 or so fans who'll attend Sunday's races probably would be happy just to see him on the starting line for both motos.

Admission for Saturday and Sunday is $40 for adults and $15 for children ages 6-12. For Sunday only, it's $30 for adults and $15 for children. Youths ages 5 and younger are admitted free, if accompanied by an adult.

Racing starts in the AMA's top two series at 1 p.m. Sunday, when the Motocross Lites run the first of their two motos. The first moto of the Motocross Division _ the series' top class _ follows at 2 p.m.

The Lites' second moto starts at 3:30 p.m., followed by the Motocross' second moto at 4:30 p.m.

The second moto carries more weight in terms of deciding the order of finish. For example, if two riders each win a moto and each finish second in a moto, the rider who wins the second moto would earn the title. Motos last for 30 minutes, plus two laps.

Fans who show up at Unadilla this weekend also will see a dramatic overhaul at the track. Though track promoter Ward Robinson wouldn't go into great detail on the changes, he said fans will say, "Oh, my God!" upon seeing them.

"They're the most extensive we've ever made in one shot," said Robinson, the track's promoter since 1969.

He said the track is wider, possibly a little longer and has a lot more sand and top soil. He added the changes cost quite a bit of money, but he didn't divulge any numbers.

"I'm of the old generation and the younger generation is saying we have to change and we changed it," Robinson said. "I think it makes sense. It needed some changing.

"All the tracks are running loose these days," he continued. "There's nothing packed down anymore."

Of the finished product, Robinson said: "I'll tell you after the race. We've had single bikes on it and the guys riding it think it's pretty neat. We'll see what happens when 40 bikes go on it."

Some of the old features of the track _ Gravity Cavity, The Wall and Skyshot _ still remain.

Brandon Short, a spokesman for the AMA, said riders love softer surfaces.

"They have to search to find lines," he said. "They like options. It's more fun and more experimental."

One has to wonder if feedback given by Carmichael in 2006 _ his final race at Unadilla _ and the numerous accidents Stewart has suffered at the track had something to do with the changes.

Carmichael, the sport's biggest star until switching to compete in NASCAR in the middle of last season, won eight times at Unadilla, including six titles in the Motocross Division.

Still, after winning in 2006, he said: "... as much as I dislike this place, I've always done pretty well here."

Interview requests set up through Short to speak with Stewart and Lites standout Ryan Villopoto were not honored.

One rider who will not be back is 2007 Unadilla Motocross champion Kevin Windham, who hasn't competed this year in the AMA Motocross. Last season at Unadilla, he won the first moto and placed third in the second to beat runner-up Ferry, 45-41.

"I'm taking some time off to let my body heal and spend some time with my family," said Windham, also the 2003 champion at Unadilla. "I'm one of the older guys and it's a tough sport."

Windham, 30, still competes indoors during the Supercross season. He said he wouldn't rule out a return to the outdoor season.

"When you get to a certain point, you have to pick one or the other," he said.

There also will be a new champion in the Lites Division. Last year's Unadilla winner, Ben Townley, graduated to the Motorcross Division. Like Windham, Townley used a victory in the first moto coupled with a third-place finish in the second for the title. He beat runner-up Ryan Dungey, 45-44, in 2007.

The undisputed favorite this year is 2006 Unadilla Lites champion Villopoto, who followed a 37th-place finish in the first moto after crashing by winning the second moto in 2007. Villopoto finished seventh overall at Unadilla a year ago.

He has a commanding lead in the Lites points race, with 341. Dungey is next with 238, followed by Brett Metcalfe (198) and Jake Weimer (187).

Villopoto, the two-time defending Lites points champion, has won 13 consecutive motos in this, his last season in the Lites Division. Next year, he'll compete in the Motocross division. Short said there's a lot of anticipation about the move.

"When Villopoto moves up next season, it will create a lot of buzz," Short said. "He's the next big thing."

___

Rob Centorani can be reached at rcentorani@thedailystar.com or 607-432-1000, ext. 209.

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