After a season-opening three-race tear to start the year, TUF Honda’s Jeff Gibson finds himself in a battle for the Arenacross class points lead as the AMA Arenacross Series heads to Louisville’s Freedom Hall for its fifth round of the 2011 championship.
Saturday night’s race signifies the return of the AMA Arenacross Series for the first time since 2009.
Last weekend in Toledo, another strong two-night outing by Babbitt’s Monster Energy/TiLUBE Kawasaki presented by Maxxis’ Tyler Bowers, highlighted by his second win of the season on Friday night, helped the Kentucky native close to within just three points of his rival as the championship heads to his home state.
While his closest challenger took a win and runner-up finish, Gibson did what he needed to, following just one spot behind Bowers on each night and minimizing the damage to his points lead. Despite that, the entire title chase is taking on a different outlook even just five weeks into the 14-week season.
Jayme Dalsing (AMA Arenacross Series Director) says: "Both Jeff and Tyler are beginning to establish themselves as the elite riders in the class. There have been several other riders that have engaged in incredible battles to this point and four competitors in total have had their chance in the spotlight atop the podium, but it’s consistency that’s giving Gibson and Bowers the advantage."
That consistency, combined with a tough weekend from third-place holder Chad Johnson, has widened the gap between the top two and the rest of the field. After sixth and fourth-place efforts in Toledo, Johnson fell from second in the points with a six-point deficit, to third and a double-digit 15-point hole.
Meanwhile, Gibson’s TUF Honda teammate Cole Siebler added his name to the winners list with a first-career win. Siebler has been one of the fastest riders in the class on several occasions, but a lack of consistency currently has him outside of the championship picture, 46-points out of the lead in sixth place, despite the victory.
While he may not be in the fight for the Arenacross class crown at this point, Siebler’s win in addition to a season-best third-place result by Foremost Insurance/Spinechillers/HondaofFairfield.com’s Zach Ames shows that on any given night, any rider has the chance to steal a victory.
This trend is expected to continue and with the likes of riders such as Gray Davenport, Nathan Skaggs, Kevin Johnson and Kelly Smith, Arenacross class main event wins are up for grabs, including on Saturday night. As the rest of the field puts forth their challenges to the duo atop the standings, the method in which Gibson and Bowers respond will be a defining trait of the way the championship plays out.
The Arenacross Lites Eastern Regional Championship will compete in its fourth round of the 2011 season in Louisville. Privateer rider Adam Gulley has been nothing short of a revelation, winning all but one of the four races this season. The Missouri-born rider currently holds a 12-point lead in the standings.
Advance tickets are available for this weekend’s Louisville Arenacross at the Freedom Hall Box Office, Ticketmaster charge by phone and ticketmaster.com. Tickets cost $2 more the day of the race.
Arenacross Class Points (After Race 6 of 19)
- Jeff Gibson, Blacklick, Ohio, Honda – 155
- Tyler Bowers, Danville, Ky., Kawasaki – 152
- Chad Johnson, Rhinelander, Wis., Kawasaki – 140
- Gray Davenport, Lehi, Utah, Kawasaki – 112
- Zach Ames, Prospect, Ohio, Honda – 112
- Cole Siebler, Emmett, Idaho, Ho nda – 109
- Nathan Skaggs, Chillicothe, Ohio, Honda – 89
- Kevin Johnson, Spring, Texas, Yamaha – 82
- Kelly Smith, Ludington, Mich., Yamaha – 79
- Cory Green, Nowata, Okla., Suzuki – 73
Arenacross Lites Class Eastern Regional Points (After Race 4 of 10)
- Adam Gulley, Jonesburg, Mo., Kawasaki – 95
- Patrick Massie, Washington Court, Ohio, Honda – 83
- Steve Mages, Sardinia, Ohio, Kawasaki – 64
- Tyler Sehr, Belleville, Ill., Honda – 54
- Austin Coon, Spencer, W.V., Honda – 53
- Kyle Goerke, Lake Helen, Fla., Suzuki – 40
- Scott Zont, Algonquin, Ill., Honda – 40
- Kyle White, Freeport, Ill., Honda – 38
- Austin Primavera, Larue, Ohio, Suzuki – 30
- Maxx Malatia, Itasca, Ill., Kawasaki – 29
New for 2011! Live timing and scoring from each round of the AMA Arenacross Series. To follow the intense racing action live, log onto Arenacross.com.