AMA Arenacross: Kansas Preview
The AMA Arenacross Series showcased tremendous on-track action at its opening round from Tulsa, Okla., with several of the sport’s biggest stars and some new faces sharing the spotlight throughout the evening.
At the conclusion of the night, 2009 AMA Arenacross Champion and TUF Honda rider Jeff Gibson stood atop the podium and carries the momentum into this weekend’s second race from Kansas City, Mo., and Kemper Arena.
Currently, Gibson’s points lead over Babbitt’s Monster Energy/TiLUBE Kawasaki presented Maxxis rider Tyler Bowers by only three points. However, in a discipline and a championship where consistency is key, Gibson holds the upper hand, particularly from a mental standpoint.
Last Saturday, mere tenths of a second separated the top 15 riders in the Arenacross class. With competition closer than its ever been in the AMA Arenacross Series, the mental edge could be the key to a season of dominance, or a season of frustration. No rider is more evident of that than Gibson.
After one of the most impressive full-time debuts the series had ever seen, Gibson surprisingly cruised to the Arenacross class title just two seasons ago.
When the gates dropped on the 2010 season, all eyes were on Gibson to continue his impressive run and seemingly innate ability to navigate the technical arenacross layouts better than any of his competitors. However, after an offseason of misfortune and frustration, Gibson wasn’t able to rekindle the magic.
A life-threatening injury set Gibson’s preparations for his title defense behind the eight ball before he even had a chance to hit the test track.
Furthermore, the return of the 450cc motorcycle to the Arenacross class wasn’t something Gibson was looking forward to. Despite a full recovery and a solid start to the season, Gibson never seemed to display the same confidence and it showed as he went winless en route to finishing fourth in the championship.
Now, Gibson is back and the field of competitors are more talented than ever before. Arguably the most confident rider in the pits based on his performance in 2010 is Bowers. He gave Gibson all he could handle last Saturday night, but settled for the runner-up spot, perhaps knowing that second is good enough and that his time at the front of the field will come.
Moreover, two-time AMA Arenacross Series champion Chad Johnson is hot on Gibson and his teammate Bowers’ heels thanks to a third-place effort in the opening round.
As the most experienced and tactical rider in the class, Johnson’s approach is much more thought out than his counterparts, relying on years of experience and a tremendously successful résumé to carry him to the title.
A wild card in the championship mix is the winner of his heat race last weekend in Tulsa, ARMA Energy/MainEventRock.com Honda’s Daniel Blair. After making his debut in the AMA Arenacross Series for the newly-formed team with his brother Vincent in the best way possible, Blair fell in the main event and soldiered home to a 14th-place result.
One would think with the competition being as tight as it is and mistakes holding such a heavy consequence that Blair would be factored out of the championship picture. However, just last season, reigning AMA Arenacross Series Champion Josh Demuth defied the odds, kicking off the season with a 13th-place finish before battling back to capture the title. While his mulligan is gone, Blair shouldn’t be counted out just yet.
The same can be said for several other of the stars of the AMA Arenacross Series like Zach Ames and Nathan Skaggs of the Foremost Insurance/Spinechillers/Honda Fairfield Racing team as well as Kevin Johnson and Kelly Smith of Team Faith Yamaha. With 13 weeks to go, it’s still anyone’s championship to win, but this weekend the entire Arenacross class field will be looking for their edge in the hunt for the title.
Since opening in 1974, Kemper Arena has become one of the landmark venues in the middle portion of the United States. In addition to numerous sporting events, it has also played host to several of the world’s most famous musical artists like Elvis, Kiss, AC/DC, Michael Jackson and Garth Brooks. It rose to fame as a premier event facility by serving as the home of the renowned Kansas Jayhawks basketball program.
On Saturday night, Kemper Arena will transform into a man-made dirt battleground, showcasing some of the most exciting racing on the planet.
The first gates drop on the Kansas City Arenacross Saturday, January 15 beginning at 7:00 p.m. The action concludes with Amateur Day on Sunday, beginning at 10 a.m.
Advance tickets are available for this weekend’s Kansas City Arenacross at Ticketmaster charge by phone and ticketmaster.com. Tickets cost $2 more the day of the race.
Fans in attendance also can take part in the Track Party on Saturday prior to the start of the show for the chance to meet the riders and get autographs. Simply recycle any MONSTER ENERGY can at the gate entrance for FREE admission. Must have valid Saturday event ticket to enter.