As the 2011 AMA Arenacross Series makes its way to the halfway point in the championship with this weekend's annual two-night showcase from Reno's Livestock & Events Center, a new face leads the way at the top of the standings. With his third win of the season last weekend in Louisville, Babbitt's Monster Energy/TiLUBE Kawasaki presented by Maxxis' Tyler Bowers took over the championship lead from his rival Jeff Gibson.
Through six rounds and eight races, both Bowers and Gibson share three wins apiece to lead the series. Additionally, both riders boast seven podium finishes and a worst result of fourth. With such close competition on a weekly basis, the duo's budding rivalry and continually transforming championship battle is shaping up to be one of the most epic title fights in series history.
By virtue of back-to-back-to-back wins to open the season, Gibson set the early pace and appeared to be on another level from his competitors. However, Bowers' gradual climb is now in full stride and is highlighted by three wins in the last five races.
"It seems like once Tyler was able to break through and grab that first win, he had the momentum he needed to keep it going," said Miss Arenacross Lindsey Scheltema. "Based on the shift in standings it appears as if Bowers is in position to run away with things, but Gibson has been right behind him every step of the way and is by no means letting Tyler out of his sight."
This weekend's pair of races from arguably the most unique venue on the AMA Arenacross Series schedule presents the opportunity for Gibson to respond. A larger layout combined with a transition to pacific time zone could present some unforeseen circumstances to alter the championship yet again.
Last season in Reno, Bowers captured a second-night victory at the Events Center to go along with a runner-up effort on the opening night. It was also a solid weekend for Gibson, who posted third and fourth-place efforts. Both riders will aim to use their past success to their advantage on Friday and Saturday night.
The two-race west coast swing also signifies the return of the Arenacross Lites Western Regional Championship which will be competing in its third round of the championship. Currently, House of Kawasaki's Chad Cook carries the points lead after a pair of dominating performances at the previous West Region round from Denver. Additionally, female rider and Arenacross Lites rookie Vicki Golden continues her historic run in the class with her second race in the AMA Arenacross Series.
Advance tickets are available for this weekend's ArenOcross at the Livestock & Events Center Box Office, Ticketmaster charge by phone and ticketmaster.com. Tickets cost $2 more the day of the race.
Arenacross Class Points (After Race 8 of 19)
1.Tyler Bowers, Danville, Ky., Kawasaki – 177
2.Jeff Gibson, Blacklick, Ohio, Honda – 175
3.Chad Johnson, Rhinelander, Wis., Kawasaki – 158
4.Cole Siebler, Emmett, Idaho, Honda – 131
5.Zach Ames, Prospect, Ohio, Honda – 128
6.Gray Davenport, Lehi, Utah, Kawasaki – 126
7.Nathan Skaggs, Chillicothe, Ohio, Honda – 104
8.Kelly Smith, Ludington, Mich., Yamaha – 91
9.Kevin Johnson, Spring, Texas, Yamaha – 87
10.Cory Green, Nowata, Okla., Suzuki – 86
Arenacross Lites Class Western Regional Points (After Race 3 of 10)
1.Chad Cook, Oklahoma City, Okla., Kawasaki – 72
2.Tanner Moore, Auburn, Kan., KTM – 45
3.Aviery Hickey, Decatur, Texas, Kawasaki – 44
4.Bobby Fitch, Littleton, Colo., Honda – 44
5.Travis Smith, Lancaster, Calif., Yamaha – 38
6.Ricky Yorks, Murrieta, Calif., Yamaha – 29
7.Jeremy Huddleston, Eustace, Texas, KTM – 27
8.Zachary Jaynes, Princeton, Texas, Yamaha – 27
9.Cory Green, Nowata, Okla., Suzuki – 25
10.Tanner Young, Marland, Okla., Yamaha – 22
Arenacross Lites Class Eastern Regional Points (After Race 6 of 10)
1.Patrick Massie, Washington Court, Ohio, Honda – 103
2.Adam Gulley, Jonesburg, Mo., Kawasaki – 95
3.Steve Mages, Sardinia, Ohio, Kawasaki – 86
4.Austin Coon, Spencer, W.V., Honda – 78
5.Tyler Sehr, Belleville, Ill., Honda – 65
6.Kyle Goerke, Lake Helen, Fla., Suzuki – 56
7.Scott Zont, Algonquin, Ill., Honda – 47
8.Austin Primavera, Larue, Ohio, Suzuki – 43
9.Kyle White, Freeport, Ill., Honda – 38
10.Kenneth Henry, Ashtabula, Ohio, KTM – 36