2012 AMA Arenacross Series Notebook: Laying Down the Foundation for a Championship Run
With one weekend down in the 2012 AMA Arenacross Series, the field turns to the first two-night round of the season from Baltimore’s 1st Mariner Arena. The show kicks off tonight at 7 p.m. ET, as opening-round winner, current points leader, and reigning champion Tyler Bowers leads his rivals into action aboard his Babbitt’s Monster Energy/AMSOIL Kawasaki presented by Maxxis.
While Bowers’ win one week ago gives him the advantage of controlling the championship standings, perhaps even more valuable is the early-season momentum he generated by virtue of his triumphant effort. In the ultra-competitive world of the AMA Arenacross Series, the ability to go on a roll can be pivotal to a rider’s title hopes – like when FMF Power/Poynt TUF Honda’s Jeff Gibson opened the 2011 season with three consecutive wins, or Team Faith KTM’s Kelly Smith went back-to-back in the late stages of last year’s championship. With the competition as close as it is each and every week, consistency plays the biggest role in determining a champion, and the ability to generate and maintain momentum can go a long way in achieving that goal.
Bowers, along with fellow podium finishers from a week ago, Babbitt’s Monster Energy/AMSOIL Kawasaki’s Josh Demuth and Gibson, have already laid down a solid foundation to build upon in their championship quest. For these three riders, the plan is simple for this weekend. Get a good start, stay out of trouble and simply try to replicate the effort from Des Moines.
The same can be said for Foremost Insurance/Spinechillers/Honda of Fairfield’s Nathan Skaggs and Dragon Fuels KTM’s Michael Willard, who finished fourth and fifth, respectively, at last weekend’s season opener. While they just missed out on landing on the podium, both riders are off to promising starts and have established the confidence to mix it up at the front of the field.
A handful of riders are looking to turn their season around quickly in Baltimore, after frustrating efforts in Des Moines. Most notably is the duo of Babbitt’s Monster Energy/AMSOIL Kawasaki’s Chad Johnson and Bella’s Cupcakes/Club MX Kawasaki’s Zach Ames. Both riders took advantage of stellar starts in the first main event of the season to assert themselves at the front of the field. The pair had a healthy advantage over their competitors, but the anxiousness to win ultimately cost each rider a shot at victory when Ames attempted a pass on Johnson for the lead and took both riders to the ground, and out of the race.
Currently, Johnson and Ames sit 14th and 15th, respectively, in the Arenacross class standings, and with nearly a 20-point deficit to overcome, have no choice but to go for wins, starting tonight. These riders’ need for some momentum is huge, considering they have yet to finish a main event. If they can find a way to get the ball rolling with two chances at a victory this weekend, it will pay huge dividends in their season-long quest for the title.
It is a similar situation for Smith, who found himself running at the front of the pack early in last weekend’s main event, only to experience trouble in the whoops and drop to a ninth-place finish. He has already proven that the speed is there, and simply needs to put in 25 mistake-free laps on both Friday and Saturday night in Baltimore in order to put himself back on track.
Through all the drama and bar-to-bar action of a week ago, one rider was missing from the fold. FMF Power/Poynt TUF Honda’s Cole Siebler was one of five big winners in 2011, and coming into the season, he had high hopes of battling for even more success thanks to a full season of AMA Arenacross Series competition under his belt. However, Siebler encountered trouble in both his heat race and last chance qualifier in Des Moines, ultimately failing to make the main event. With no points to show for his efforts, there isn’t a rider in the Arenacross class field in greater need of a positive weekend and some early-season momentum more than Siebler. He might be one to keep an eye out for throughout both nights.
This weekend, the intimate and exciting action of the AMA Arenacross Series will be showcased at 1st Mariner Arena, the largest indoor sports and entertainment facility in Baltimore. Opened in 1962, it served as the Civic Center before becoming the Baltimore Arena, which was the official title until 1st Mariner Bank garnered sponsorship rights in 2003.
The second round of the 2012 AMA Arenacross Series kicks off tonight, with an action-packed evening of competition, and concludes Saturday, November 5, with yet another night of action. The show, for both Friday and Saturday, begins at 7 p.m. ET.