No matter what sort of motorsports you prefer, everyone reading this will undoubtedly agree that there is something amazing about seeing motorcycles fly through the air and over obstacles, all while inside some of the most storied sports arenas in the country. The 2014 AMSOIL Arenacross, featuring Ricky Carmichael’s Road to Supercross, is only about four weeks into their season, but the championship has already experienced several historic feats in just seven nights.
2014 marks the official start of the Ricky Carmicheal Road to Supercross program, the official advancement system of Monster Energy AMA Supercross, an FIM World Championship. This groundbreaking initiative provides a competitive developmental platform that allows the future stars of the sport to hone their talents in the highly competitive discipline of AMSOIL Arenacross before making their transition into Monster Energy Supercross.
Ohio native and Yamalube/Star Racing Yamaha rider Aaron Plessinger made his rookie debut as part of the Road to Supercross at the second round of the season in Baltimore, where he emerged as one of the sport’s most promising amateurs at the end of the 2013 season, thus solidifying his status as a rising star.
“It’s pretty awesome to race against Tyler Bowers, Zach Ames and other big names like that like Mike McDade,” said Plessinger. “I never thought I would get the overall in the Arenacross Class but here I am and it happened.”
In the video featured with this piece, the AMSOIL Arenacross PR team spent a few moments with Plessingger to get his thoughts on that memorable debut weekend.
While Babbitt’s Monster Energy/AMSOIL Kawasaki’s Tyler Bowers start to the 2014 AMSOIL Arenacross, featuring Ricky Carmichael’s Road to Supercross, season hasn’t been as smooth as he, and most everyone else was hoping, he's still full of confidence. With only one win to his credit this season, and currently fourth in the championship following multiple instances of misfortune and hard luck, the series most well-known competitor knows that things happen over the course of a long season. As the Race to the Championship looms in the near future, Bowers is well aware that he needs to put himself in position to be able to make a late-season run at a potential fourth consecutive title.
Last week, the AMSOIL Arenacross PR team caught up with Tyler to get his thoughts in the season so far and his outlook on the remainder of the 2014 championship.
1. What do you think will be the biggest challenge this season in winning a fourth-straight AMSOIL Arenacross title?
"Health is always the biggest factor. We race motorcycles over steep jumps and turns, on a short track with 16 other racers. It's dangerous! My Team Babbitt's Monster Energy/AMSOIL Kawasaki teammates are on it this year. Zach Ames is no slouch and I have seen the work he has been able to put in leading up to this season. Colt Nichols was a top amateur that just made the leap to the pro ranks, and he knows he has all the tools he could need on a great team. I think there is plenty of new talent bringing new young blood to the series, so it is going to be very alive and action packed this season!"
2. How did going through the adversity of the broken collarbone last year help you grow as a rider?
"It made me learn just how much I thought I could take, and what my body will actually endure. Now with my training and racing I am able to look at any moment almost fearlessly. It may hurt, but it's not going to kill me and it will soon go away. "
3. Have you done anything different in your preparations for this season?
"Before last season I actually took a big break in the summer to kind of recharge my batteries. I came in with that fire to ride and race again. This year, though I was racing during the summer and fall in Costa Rica and Germany, it wasn't packed full every weekend like most series. I was able to enjoy racing, while keeping my senses sharp."
4. Since you've won three consecutive AMSOIL Arenacross titles, do you think you kind of have a target on your back now as the guy to beat?
"Yes, definitely. I learned in Worcester and Baltimore that this ‘target’ doesn't seem to be metaphorical. There must literally be some sort of target in my decals that I didn't get the memo about!"
5. Do you feel like your competitors have stepped up their efforts?
"Yes. I think there are some new riders that have clearly done their homework, and there are some existing racers that have switched teams and seem to be meshing a bit better on the new program. I know I step up my efforts every year myself, and I always imagine my competitors have that same motivation."
6. How do you keep pushing and finding that extra edge when you're used to winning?
"I don't think you can ever be ‘used to winning.’ As soon as you start to feel comfortable, there is a second-place trophy waiting. For me, I keep pushing for wins because maybe it's more of a fear of losing."
7. How did it feel to start the season off with a win and get some early momentum?
"It felt great! I am on a great program again this year. The whole Team Babbitts Monster Energy/AMSOIL Kawasaki team is pushing as much as we can. My mechanic Scott Donk is very picky about the bike and it is so dialed in I could eat off of it. We know what we put in when we go to the races, so to see it pay off is always great."
8. It looks like your competitors are willing to be more aggressive in racing with you. How do you adjust to that?
"I keep doing my thing. It's a long season and this isn’t my first rodeo."
9. How does having teammates like Zach Ames and Colt Nichols help you stay at your best? Do you embrace being a mentor to them?
"It's great. Zach is a great training partner. Our close speed helps us both find that extra edge during the week to take to the races. He always keeps the mood around the team positive. He's a very good guy to be around!
I have tried to embrace mentoring Colt as much as I can, but the kid handled himself in Worcester and Baltimore like a seasoned vet. He studied the tapes coming into the season and finished off his very first night just off the podium in fourth."
10. As the proverbial face of AMSOIL Arenacross, what have you learned outside of racing that comes as a result of being the sport's go-to guy?
"I'm starting to get quite good at interviews! Honestly, I was never much of a people person growing up out in the middle of nowhere. I soon found a smile can sometimes go further than lap times. Combine them both and you may become unstoppable!"
The entire AMSOIL Arenacross season will air on FOX Sports 1, including re-airs on FOX Sports 2. Although this week's coverage is decidedly 4-wheeled due to the run-up for the Rolex 24 at Daytona, this column is dedicated to providing information and analysis for all forms of motorsports, no matter how many (or how few) wheels they might utilize!
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