After months of hard work in the shop, on-track testing, and relentless training, the highly-anticipated premier of the 2011 AMA Arenacross Series championship was as captivating as advertised. After 25 laps of bar-banging excitement, TUF Honda’s Jeff Gibson stood above the rest and made the first statement of the new season.
After claiming the 2009 championship in his first full season in the AMA Arenacross Series, Gibson experienced a frustrating 2010 season, going winless en route to finishing fourth in the Arenacross class championship. However, he put in a dedicated offseason program aimed at regaining the magic he had two seasons ago and came out strong last Saturday evening, fending off both Tyler Bowers and Chad Johnson of the Babbitt’s Monster Energy/TiLube Kawasaki presented by Maxxis team.
While Gibson’s win was a popular one amongst fans and members of the industry, it was also a sign of the closeness of competition within the AMA Arenacross Series. While both Bowers and Johnson, the preseason favorites to win the title, rounded out the podium, Foremost Insurance/Spinechillers/Honda Fairfield Racing’s Zach Ames followed in fourth. Ames served as the only non-Babbitt’s rider to capture a win in 2010 and he kicked off 2011 where he left off. Ames’ teammate Skaggs rounded out the top five.
“The difference between the top riders is smaller than it’s ever been in the AMA Arenacross Series,” said series director Jayme Dalsing. “Gibson’s win in Tulsa is a sign of the potential parity the series could see this season.”
Beyond the top five, it was a promising debut for one of the series’ newest teams in MainEventRock.com Honda. An impressive heat race win by Daniel Blair looked as though a new name would be in the mix for the checkered flag, but misfortune struck in the main event. After an early crash, Blair soldiered home to a 14th-place result.
The talent pool in the Arenacross class is deeper than ever, with additional big names like Kelly Smith, Kevin Johnson and Robbie Reynard littering the entry lists. Additionally, young up and coming riders like former Arenacross Lites champions Dave Ginolfi and Daniel Aulsaybrook are looking to make some noise in their rookie seasons on the 450s.
This weekend, the AMA Arenacross Series heads to Kansas City for round two of the 2011 championship. Kemper Arena will play host to the world’s fastest arenacross riders and the early championship picture is sure to be shaken up.
Last season in Kansas City, eventual champion Josh Demuth captured his first win of 2010 en route to the title. The series’ most dominant figure at that point, Tyler Bowers, suffered one of his worst outings of the entire 2010 and allowed his teammate into the championship picture.
While the Arenacross class title fight continues to take shape, the Arenacross Lites Eastern Regional Championship will kick off its 2011 season. The future stars of the AMA Arenacross Series are fast and exciting and will no doubt bring the Kansas City fans to their feet.
Advance tickets are available for this weekend’s Kansas City Arenacross at the Kemper Arena Box Office, Ticketmaster charge by phone and ticketmaster.com. Tickets cost $2 more the day of the race.
Arenacross Class Points (After Race 1 of 19)
1.Jeff Gibson, Blacklick, Ohio, Honda – 25
2.Tyler Bowers, Danville, Ky., Kawasaki – 22
3.Chad Johnson, Rhinelander, Wis., Kawasaki – 20
4.Zach Ames, Prospect, Ohio, Honda – 18
5.Nathan Skaggs, Chillicothe, Ohio, Honda – 16
6.Gray Davenport, Lehi, Utah, Kawasaki – 15
7.Cole Siebler, Emmett, Idaho, Honda – 14
8.Dave Ginolfi, Lake Hopatlong, N.J., Suzuki – 13
9.Cory Green, Nowata, Okla., Suzuki – 12
10.Willy Browning, Pleasantville, Ohio, Honda –11
Arenacross Lites Class Western Regional Points (After Race 1 of 10)
1.Cory Green, Nowata, Okla., Suzuki – 25
2.Chad Cook, Oklahoma City, Okla., Kawasaki – 22
3.Aviery Hickey, Decatur, Texas, Kawasaki – 20
4.Brian Alquist, Lagrange, Calif., Honda – 18
5.Travis Smith, Lancaster, Calif., Yamaha – 16
6.Tanner Moore, Auburn, Kan., KTM – 15
7.Jeremy Huddleston, Eustace, Texas, KTM – 14
8.Chase McGrath, Bennington, Neb., Honda – 13
9.Travis Merrill, Fowler, Ill., KTM – 12
10.Cody Doerfler, Peyton, Colo., Yamaha – 11
New for 2011! Live timing and scoring from each round of the AMA Arenacross Series. To follow the intense racing action live, log onto www.Arenacross.com.