In just a few short days, the 2010 AMA Arenacross Series will commence with arguably the deepest, most talented field in the history of the sport. Hundreds of riders will take their shot at making the coveted pair of main events in the AMA Arenacross and AMA Arenacross Lites classes, but one man in particular will have a bullseye on his back as the defending AMA Arenacross Series champion.
Jeff Gibson was essentially a rookie in the AMA Arenacross Series when he joined as a full-time competitor last season. The longtime veteran of the sport spent most of his years on the supercross scene before taking advantage of the opportunity to become a member of the most dominant team in recent years of the AMA Arenacross Series. Over the next three months, Gibson took the series by storm, winning the most races as well as posting the most podium finishes to win his first ever AMA national title and give Tuf Honda its third consecutive AMA Arenacross Series championship.
During the off-season, Jeff Gibson suffered a life-threatening injury while competing in motocross that required emergency surgery and left him off the bike for an extended period of time. When the AMA Arenacross Series hosted its second annual prequel race from Des Moines, Iowa in November, it marked Gibson’s first race back since his injury. Here is what Jeff had to say:
Question: Jeff, as a veteran of the sport, what did it mean to you to finally break through last season and capture that elusive AMA national championship?
Jeff Gibson: Honestly, it was a dream come true to win the series. It was actually like a dream season because things went way too easily and way too smooth. I just kept plugging away, racing each race one at a time and it just turned out really great. I was really thankful for the way the whole year went. I was having a ball with it and it couldn’t have been better.
Question: The intimate and technical setting of arenacross seems to suit you. What made the transition into the AMA Arenacross Series so easy for you?
Jeff Gibson: I don’t know. I think that the tighter arenas and tighter tracks are more suited to me a little bit I’d say. It’s what I grew up around and what I grew up racing so I guess I just really enjoy riding in arenas.
Question: What do you have lined up for the 2010 season in defense of your title?
Jeff Gibson: As far as I know right now we are Tuf Racing again with great support from our sponsors like Thor, Fulmer Helmets, Dunlop and others helping us out again. We’re going to do the same thing and just go at it and take it one race at a time. Really just try to have fun like we did last year. (Overall), not a whole lot has changed for 2010.
Question: You were hurt during the off-season for the AMA Arenacross Series. Could you talk a little bit about what exactly happened?
Jeff Gibson: I got hurt in August. I think the middle of it. I messed my wrist up pretty good and ended up putting a hole in my small intestine. The doctors had to go in and patch up my intestine and in order to do that had to cut through my stomach and all my ab muscles. I’ve never had anything quite that serious so it’s been a hard recovery coming back. It’s been tough to train and get back where I was but I’ve been feeling good the past month or so and feel really good on my bike so I’m just excited about the series.
Question: You raced in Des Moines for the prequel. How did that help you for not only coming back from injury, but also preparing for the upcoming season?
Jeff Gibson: Des Moines was just kind of a test race. Get out there on a 450 and see how that felt in an arena as well as see how I felt myself. I was still coming back from the injury obviously. It helped me see how much work I had to put in. You (obviously) need to put in as much as you can, but I just wanted to feel it out and get used to putting in 25 laps again.
Question: Who do you think will be the main challengers to your title this season?
Jeff Gibson: It’s going to be everybody. There are a couple newcomers to the series, but everybody out there goes the exact same speed. It’s a lot like NASCAR. Everyone pretty much runs the same second lap times and in a 25 to 30 second lap time it’s hard to make up time with such a short amount available. It’s going to be anybody’s ball game. Everyone is going to be gunning for it and all I can do is try my hardest every time I’m out there and do my best.
Question: To wrap everything up, what are your goals for 2010?
Jeff Gibson: For 2010 I want to just do what I did last year and really enjoy the series. I’m looking forward to having the number one plate on my bike and I’m looking forward to racing every single weekend. I’m really excited about race weekend and just want to enjoy the season. That’s what I did last year. I didn’t have any goals last year. I didn’t plan on winning. I didn’t plan on losing. I just wanted to go out there and work every single race and that’s what I want to do this year. It worked really well and I just want to do the same thing.