Arenacross: Grand Rapids Preview
With the holiday season officially over, the AMA Arenacross Series is ready to kick off 2012 with a return to action, hosting its fifth round of the championship this weekend from Grand Rapids, Mich., and Van Andel Arena.
Two nights of action will highlight the series’ first visit to one of the sport’s most storied cities since the 2010 season. Currently holding a six-point lead in the standings, FMF Power/Poynt TUF Honda’s Jeff Gibson will lead the field into action on Friday, Jan. 6, and Saturday, Jan. 7.
At the series’ previous stop in Wilkes Barre, Pa., back in December, Gibson maintained his points lead with a pair of solid efforts, including a runner-up finish on the opening night. However, he lost some ground to his two closest competitors in the championship, as the Babbitt’s Monster Energy/AMSOIL Kawasaki presented by Maxxis duo of Tyler Bowers and Chad Johnson each claimed big wins over the course of two nights of competition.
Currently, just 15 points separate the top three riders in the championship. The trio of Gibson, Bowers and Johnson have established themselves as the riders to beat to this point in the 2012 season, serving as the only winners through the first seven main events of the championship. Bowers’ series-leading four wins gives him an upper hand as the season moves forward, but Gibson’s impressive consistency has him out front.
Just beyond the top three in the standings sits Michigan native Kelly Smith, of Ludington. The hometown boy who rides for Team Faith KTM has been on the verge of victory on several occasions this season. With the support of his family and friends, Smith will surely be as confident as ever coming into this weekend’s action, in search of that breakthrough win that can vault him back into the championship picture.
Beyond the premier Arenacross Class, the fourth round of the Eastern Regional Arenacross Lites Class Championship will be the site of some intriguing storylines. Dragon Racing Fuels/AG Motorsports KTM’s Michael Willard has come on strong in recent weeks, winning three main events, including a sweep of the previous round in Wilkes Barre.
However, despite his success, he sits just five points ahead of Motocross Ministries Kawasaki’s Michael McDade, who has been a picture of consistency. While the battle for the championship lead will wear on, many eyes will be on the season debut of Babbitt’s Monster Energy/AMSOIL Kawasaki’s Vicki Golden. The Golden Girl of Arenacross has sat out the first portion of the season due to injury, but is set to make her debut this weekend in preparation for a run at the Western Regional Arenacross Lites Class Championship, which will resume next weekend. After making history last season, Golden will be looking to rewrite the record books some more on Friday and Saturday night.
The last time the AMA Arenacross Series paid visit to Van Andel Arena to kick off the 2010 season, Johnson and Bowers walked away victorious, giving the Muskegon-based Babbitt’s squad a clean sweep of the weekend. In Arenacross Lites Class action, Kurt McCabe and Taylor Futrell secured main event wins.
Back-to-back nights of action from Van Andel Arena kick off on Friday, January 6, before coming to a dramatic conclusion on Saturday, January 7. Opening ceremonies for both nights begin at 7 p.m. ET.
AMA Arenacross Class Points (After Race 7 of 19)
- Jeff Gibson, Blacklick, Ohio, Honda (2 wins) – 144
- Tyler Bowers, Danville, Ky., Kawasaki (4 wins) – 138
- Chad Johnson, Rhinelander, Wis., Kawasaki (1 win) – 129
- Josh Demuth, North Richland Hills, Texas, Kawasaki – 127
- Kelly Smith, Ludington, Mich., KTM – 117
- Nathan Skaggs, Chillicothe, Ohio, Honda – 86
- Zach Ames, Prospect, Ohio, Kawasaki – 79
- Willy Browning, Pleasantville, Ohio, KTM – 78
- Tyler Bright, Hamer, S.C., KTM – 56
- Michael Willard, Newark, Ohio, KTM – 55
Eastern Regional Arenacross Lites Class Points (After Race 6 of 10)
- Michael Willard, Newark, Ohio, KTM (3 wins) – 119
- Michael McDade, Indiana, Pa., Kawasaki (1 win) – 114
- Dave Ginolfi, Lake Hopatlong, N.J., KTM – 100
- Steven Mages, Sardinia, Ohio, Kawasaki – 88
- Travis Sewell, Westfield, Ind., KTM – 69
- Kevin Johnson, Spring, Texas, KTM – 59
- Austin Coon, Spencer, W. Va., Honda – 48
- Maxx Malatia, Itasca, Ill., Honda – 45
- T.J. Phillips, New Castle, Pa., Kawasaki – 44
- Kyle White, Freeport, Ill., Honda – 38
Live timing and scoring from each round of the AMA Arenacross Series returns for the 2012 season! To follow the intense racing action live, log onto Arenacross.com.