The stars of the AMA Arenacross Series return to action this weekend from Wilkes Barre, Pa., and Mohegan Sun Arena at Casey Plaza for the fourth round of the 2012 championship. Following a month-long break in competition, FMF Power/Poynt TUF Honda’s Jeff Gibson will lead the Babbitt’s Monster Energy/AMSOIL Kawasaki presented by Maxxis trio of Josh Demuth, Tyler Bowers, Chad Johnson, and many more into the final race of the 2011 calendar year.
Currently, just seven points separate Gibson in first from Bowers in third, and the duo have set the bar on the track, trading victories through the first five main events. With three rounds in the books, Miss Arenacross Lindsey Scheltema gives her thoughts on the competition thus far.
Arenacross: Lindsey, through three rounds of competition this season, what has stood out the most to you?
Lindsey Scheltema: The amount of talent, without a doubt. The last three rounds, we have had numbers not seen since I started as Miss Arenacross. To see over 50 riders sign up to race the Arenacross Class is unbelievable! Also, since there are only so many riders to actually make it from afternoon qualifying to the night show, the afternoon qualifying sessions have been just as much fun to watch as the night show! These last three rounds we have seen some great racing, and I’m really excited to go into Wilkes Barre this week.
Having the schedule like we have it this year is awesome. We go to three rounds in a row and take a break. Then we have another break following Wilkes Barre this weekend, and finish out the season after the New Year. All the riders train knowing what the competition is like, but this season gives riders a couple of extra weeks to get a feel for the competition and then go home and prepare for the next round.
Arenacross: Which riders have been the most impressive?
LS: Zach Ames stands out immediately in my mind. Although he finished fourth overall last season, an increase in his intensity is noticeable through the first three rounds. Jeff Gibson also has been standing out. Every race, he has been in the top 5, and already has two wins under his belt this season. I think Gibson has a huge advantage this year, especially since we are back to only racing 250F’s.
Arenacross: Only seven points separate the top three at this point. Do you see this lasting throughout the season?
LS: Well, currently, Gibson is the points leader. Tyler Bowers and Josh Demuth are following close behind. Although all three of those riders have a lot of talent and previous arenacross experience, I do not see this lasting throughout the season. There is so much top talent and aggressive riders that are very close to being inside that bubble, and honestly, I think after Grand Rapids when we kick off the majority of our season, we will start to see things changing up. Chad Johnson is not too far behind, and then don’t forget veteran Kelly Smith is right there about 15 points behind. I think this year is going to be the best one I’ve seen since I started my role as Miss Arenacross.
Arenacross: Only two riders have won so far this season. Who’s knocking on the door to become the newest winner?
LS: That’s a tough one. I would have to say either Chad Johnson, Kelly Smith, or Nathan Skaggs. All three of those riders are right there in points behind the top three, and have all shown they have what it takes to be out front leading during these last three rounds.
Arenacross: What are your thoughts on the highly-competitive Arenacross Lites Class competition?
LS: I have never seen over 60 riders wanting to race in the Arenacross Lites Class. We have been seeing just as intense, if not more aggressive, racing in the Lites Class this year. What’s even more stunning is with all of these riders so close in talent and speed, it’s crazy to see some top Arenacross Lites riders not even make it to the main event. It’s been awesome having both these classes stacked with talent.
Arenacross: How do you think the break in action is going to play into this weekend’s outcome?
LS: I look at the breaks as being extremely beneficial and positive for the riders. They get a little taste of the action for a couple weeks, go home and prepare and train, get a little more exposure to the action, go home and work on what they lacked, and then BAM. It’s game time.