It’s been a month since the familiar growl of dirt bikes has reverberated through the stands of an arena, but in just a matter of hours, the AMA Arenacross Series will be back in action for its fourth round of the 2012 championship. Mohegan Sun Arena at Casey Plaza, in Wilkes Barre, Pa., will welcome the world’s best arenacross riders and their return to competition for the final time in the 2011 calendar year.

FMF Power/Poynt TUF Honda’s Jeff Gibson has established himself as the rider to beat at this point in the season, capturing a pair of victories and showcasing impressive consistency throughout the first five main events. He holds the coveted Arenacross Class points lead, by a scant six points, and will look to keep the momentum rolling in search of his second series crown.

Nipping at Gibson’s heels are a pair of hungry Babbitt’s Monster Energy/AMSOIL Kawasaki presented by Maxxis riders. The past two AMA Arenacross Series Champions Josh Demuth (2010) and Tyler Bowers (2011) hold down second and third in the standings, respectively. Moreover, they are separated by a single point. While he has yet to win so far this season, Demuth has relied on his many years of experience to keep him as a staple at the front of the field and it is only a matter of time before he breaks through for that checkered flag. As for Bowers, he’s put forth a strong start to his title defense, leading the series in both wins and podium finishes. Bowers’ aggressive style has helped him stay within seven points of the championship lead, and he will no doubt look to continue his upward climb over the course of two nights of action this weekend.

In all, this trio of riders boasts an incredible résumé of both results and accolades. They are also three veteran riders who know how important give and take is within the world of the AMA Arenacross Series.

While Gibson, Demuth and Bowers aim to pull away from their counterparts, riders like Chad Johnson and Kelly Smith are also on the verge of becoming legitimate players in the title hunt. Both equally as experienced as their three rivals, Johnson and his Babbitt’s Monster Energy/AMSOIL Kawasaki ride, along with Smith’s Team Faith KTM machine, have been knocking on the door for wins throughout the first three rounds of the season. Some misfortune has hindered the duo from being podium fixtures week in and week out, but with Johnson sitting 20 points out of the lead, and Smith looking at a 27 gap, there is still plenty of time for both riders to make their presence felt, starting this weekend.

The competition throughout this early portion of the 2012 AMA Arenacross Series season has been some of the best the sport has ever seen. With less than a second separating the entire premier class field, it’s anyone’s race to win on any given night. While the front runners have made an early statement with their success, the nine remaining rounds and 14 remaining main events offer a chance for anything to happen in a sport where such unpredictability is the norm.

This weekend, the AMA Arenacross Series returns to Wilkes Barre for the first time since the 2009 season. The northeastern Pennsylvania town has long been a presence in the series, and its return to the schedule is an anticipated one. Opening in 1999, Mohegan Sun Arena at Casey Plaza is one of the premier venues in the country. It currently serves as home to the Wilkes Barre/Scranton Penguins of the AHL, and starting in 2012, will be the new home of the Wilkes Barre/Scranton Shamrocks of the North American Lacrosse League.

The fourth round of the 2012 AMA Arenacross Series kicks off tonight, with an action-packed evening of competition, and concludes Saturday, December 10, with yet another night of action. The show, for both Friday and Saturday, begins at 7 p.m. ET.


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