The last time the AMA Arenacross Series took to the track in Wilkes Barre, Pa., in December, it signified a pivotal point in the championship. Not only did it mark the final race of the 2011 calendar year and brought the first quarter of the season to a close, but it also led into the final break of the season before the schedule kicks into high gear, beginning this weekend at Grand Rapids’ Van Andel Arena.
Currently, the battle for the Arenacross Class points lead is heating up between FMF Power/Poynt TUF Honda’s Jeff Gibson, the current front-runner, and Babbitt’s Monster Enegry/AMSOIL Kawasaki presented by Maxxis’ Tyler Bowers, the reigning series champion. Throughout the first four rounds of the season, they’ve traded wins, and have also had the luxury of dialing in their respective programs thanks to a pair of extended breaks from competition.
Now, as a mere six points separates the two riders, the schedule hits an eight-week stretch of consecutive rounds to round out the 2012 season, and ultimately crown a champion. This weekend’s fifth round of the season from Grand Rapids is the first race of the New Year and will ultimately set the tone for the intense run to the conclusion of the championship.
Simply put, it’s go time for all competitors in the premier Arenacross Class. Mistakes are no longer an option, and time is of the essence. For any riders who have gotten their 2012 season off to a slow start, the final eight rounds of the championship presents an opportunity to turn things around and carry the momentum through to the stretch run.
Momentum plays a significant role in the world of arenacross, as any rider on a hot streak has the potential to ride the wave to even greater success. With little to no downtime between rounds, a mistake at any point from now until the season finale could result in a huge hit to one’s title hopes.
Through the first two months of the season, Gibson and Bowers, in addition to Babbitt’s Monster Energy/AMSOIL Kawasaki’s Chad Johnson and Team Faith KTM’s Kelly Smith, have established themselves as the most consistent riders in the series. However with nearly a month of additional time to prepare for the most intense part of the championship, it will be interesting to see how other front runners like Foremost Insurance/Spinechillers/Storm Lake Honda’s Nathan Skaggs and Bella’s Cupcakes/Club MX Kawasaki’s Zach Ames attack the remainder of the schedule.
Regardless, the intensity and excitement of the AMA Arenacross Series is set to reach new heights. Every lap counts, every move has its consequence, and tensions will be at a boil once the gate drops in Grand Rapids. The championship is heating up and over the next two months, the premier Arenacross Class will be a battleground of bar-to-bar action.
In addition to the buzz surrounding the premier division, the Arenacross Lites Class will receive a shot in the arm as the AMA Arenacross Series welcomes the return of groundbreaking female rider Vicki Golden. The new Babbitt’s Monster Energy/AMSOIL Kawasaki rider is on the best equipment the series has to offer and following a recovery process for a broken collarbone that delayed her start to the 2012 season, Golden is eagerly awaiting her chance to get back out on the track against her male counterparts. While this weekend will serve as an opportunity to get her back into her groove, Golden has her sights set on becoming a player in the Western Regional Arenacross Lites Class Championship, which resumes next weekend.
Van Andel Arena has long been a staple of the AMA Arenacross Series, and following a one-year hiatus, the high-octane competition is back in one of its most beloved cities.
The fifth round of the 2012 AMA Arenacross Series kicks off tonight, with an action-packed evening of competition, and concludes Saturday, January 7, with yet another captivating night of action. The show, for both Friday and Saturday, begins at 7 p.m. ET.