2006 Moto GP World Championship - Checkers

Nicky Hayden, World Champion

After the most un-predictable season in decades, the scenario no one predicted produced an ending American MotoGP fans had nearly given up hoping for. The seemingly indomitable "Doctor," Valentino Rossi, loses the front end of his Yamaha on the brakes and falls after five laps. The Kid-sliding around like it's the Castle Rock TT instead of the Grand Prix of Valencia-does exactly what he has to do, bringing his Honda home third behind the Ducatis of surprise winner Troy Bayliss and Loris Capirossi to claim the 2006 World Championship by 5 points. It's the sort of script not even Frank Capra could have written. Thanks to Nicky Hayden, nobody had to.

"When you dedicate your life to something and the dream comes true, it feels so good," Hayden said. "I want to thank everybody back home, and I hope they're partying back there in Owensboro. When I went down at the beginning of the Estoril race, I thought the dream was over, but I just didn't give up. Anything can happen in racing, and you just keep fighting until the end. I just believe good things happen to good people, and this is a great day for me." Us too, kid, us too.