With two rounds completed in the inaugural Race to the Championship, the battle for the Arenacross Class title this season in AMSOIL Arenacross, featuring Ricky Carmichael’s Road to Supercross, is getting increasingly competitive as the weeks wind down. This Saturday night, Babbitt’s Monster Energy/ASMOIL Kawasaki presented by Maxxis rider Tyler Bowers will lead the field into action from Kansas City, Mo., and the Sprint Center as the penultimate round of the 2013 season will take one step closer to crowning a champion. Broadcast coverage of the action can be seen Sunday on SPEED, beginning at 3:30 p.m. ET.
As if the inaugural round of the Race to the Championship wasn’t exciting enough, the star riders of AMSOIL Arenacross put on a dramatic show last weekend as Bowers battled to his ninth overall victory of the season. In the process, he surpassed both Team Faith/FLY Racing KTM’s Jeff Gibson and Babbitt’s Monster Energy/AMSOIL Kawasaki teammate Zach Ames in the championship standings, moving from third to first in just one night.
The Race to the Championship was inspired by the playoff atmosphere that not only showcases the best competitors in any individual season, but also serves as the time when the best riders step up their efforts and ride at an even higher level. With every lap, so much is on the line and any slight mistake could prove to be the difference between winning the championship and losing it. With the Sprint Center serving as the site of the season’s penultimate round, time is running out for those who need to make up points.
Coming into last weekend’s stop in Wichita, Kan., Ames was the Race to the Championship leader after posting a big win at the opening round of the showdown. However, last Saturday night he experienced misfortune in the early stages of the second Main Event, ultimately hindering his finishing result for the evening and costing him a spot on the overall podium. The points lost by Ames also dropped him from first to third in the standings, which could prove to be the difference maker over the final three nights of action that lie ahead.
Currently, a total of just three points separates Bowers from Gibson and Ames in the Race to the Championship standings. This trio of riders has proven to be the most consistent through the first two rounds of the Race to the Championship, but each has also been forced to deal with some sort of adversity already in just two nights of action. With a total of 10 riders all vying for their chance at the coveted title, everyone is riding closer to the edge now than at any other point in the season. Such intense competition not only produces more competitive racing, but also results in more mistakes. When the entire field of competitors is as close as it is, that can mean misfortune for any one of the 10 Race to the Championship riders, including those atop the standings. Simply put, no one is safe and nothing is guaranteed until the checkered flag falls.
“The racing has been incredible these first two weeks,” said Mike Muye, Director of Operations, AMSOIL Arenacross. “No one has had a perfect night yet, which means everything is much more intense and exciting. You can tell that all the riders have stepped up their game for these final four rounds of the season and as a result of it, this championship is still anyone’s to win.”
In total, there is a 27-point differential from Bowers at the top of the championship standings to Ankle Savers Kawasaki’s Gared Steinke in 10th as the schedule heads to Wichita. One week ago, Steinke was coming off his best performance of the season, finishing third overall in the opening round of the Race to the Championship and sitting within seven points of the lead in the standings. Now, he’s looking up at his fellow nine competitors and needs a strong night inside the Sprint Center. With a total of 32 points available in the pair of Main Events scheduled for Saturday night, Steinke, or any of his fellow riders, could very well leave Wichita with a much different outlook on their title hopes than they did coming in.
From the beginning of the Race to the Championship to now, every single rider’s position inside the top 10 in the standings has shifted. While Bowers, Ames, and Gibson have collectively stayed within the top three through the first two rounds, many others have seen fluctuations of several positions over the course of the last two weekends. One rider that has maintained his late resurgence is Mosites Motorsports Kawasaki’s Michael McDade. The four-time Main Event winner this season has arguably been Bowers’ biggest challenger, but an injury just prior to the Race to the Championship cost him valuable points. After starting off as the sixth seed, McDade moved into fourth two weeks ago and maintained his position with a third-place finish in the overall classification last weekend. He sits 10 points behind Bowers in the standings and could be a rider to watch over the final two rounds.
With the penultimate round of the Race to the Championship mere days away, the stage is set for perhaps the wildest and most exciting night of the season thus far. Time is of the essence for all 10 of the competitors vying for their chance at the title, and the level of competition out on the track is sure to reflect that.
This weekend’s return to Kansas City will also prove to be a major factor in the outcome of the Western Regional Arenacross Lites Championship. Currently, just six points separate the top two riders in the championship, Ticketwow Honda’s Michael Lang and BWRengines.com Honda’s Maxx Malatia. Last weekend, Malatia secured a big win that helped him inch closer to Lang atop the standings. In addition to this duo, BWRengines.com Honda’s Kyle White and Motosport.com/JBR/Spinechillers Racing KTM’s Steven Mages sit within 20 points of the championship lead. Each of these four riders know what it takes to win, which should make for an exciting night of action inside the Sprint Center.
AMSOIL Arenacross has not raced in Kansas City since the 2011 season. That year, Gibson captured an impressive win to give him a lot of momentum early in that season’s championship battle. In the Arenacross Lites Class, Missouri native Adam Gulley captured the win in front of his hometown crowd.
One night of action featuring the return of AMSOIL Arenacross to the Sprint Center kicks off on Saturday, March 2, beginning at 7:00 p.m. ET. Next-day broadcast coverage will air exclusively on SPEED, beginning at 3:30 p.m. ET.
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