Last weekend’s AMA Arenacross Series action from Greensboro, N.C., showcased one of the most exciting races of the season as reigning series champion Chad Johnson grabbed his first win of the season and his first win for Babbitt’s Monster Energy Kawasaki. En route to his last lap pass for the victory, he got together with then-leader and series points leader Jeff Gibson, forcing the Mahindra Tractors/Tuf Honda rider to the ground and a seventh-place finish.
As the series heads into the halfway point at this weekend’s inaugural race in Tulsa, Okla. at the brand new BOK Center, these two AMA Arenacross Series stars are set to battle in out in front of a new audience.
After garnering his first victory of 2009, Johnson is hungry for more. His performance in Greensboro was hard earned and served notice to the entire Arenacross community that he is still in the fight for a repeat championship. The notoriously technical layouts of the AMA Arenacross Series have presented challenges for its competitors all season. Last weekend, Johnson made significant strides in working his way through the field.
“The track was definitely tough last weekend,” explained Johnson. “The places to make a pass required a block pass in order to make it work. Despite what happened, Jeff and I aren’t creating any sort of rivalry. I don’t foresee anything like that happening. If he had the same opportunity I would expect him to do the same to me. I wouldn’t change a thing and if the opportunity arises I’ll do it again.”
The incident forced Gibson into his worst finish of the season. After a season-long streak of standing on the podium, the four-race winner faced his first sign of adversity, but recovered in true championship fashion to salvage as many points as he could. Coming into this weekend, he still holds a comfortable 39-point advantage.
“I’m definitely bummed about the streak coming to an end,” said Gibson. “I was really hoping to keep that going all season. I have no hard feelings towards Chad. The track was tough and he needed to do what he had to do. I’ve known him since we were racing on (80cc) bikes. We’re friends and I know that it was basically just typical AMA Arenacross Series racing.”
As last weekend proved, anything is possible in the AMA Arenacross Series. Even with a healthy points lead, Gibson cannot settle into a groove. If he experiences similar misfortune in just a couple of the remaining rounds and either Johnson or current second place competitor Nathan Skaggs, of Spinechillers/Storm Lake Honda, are there to take advantage, the entire complexity of the season will change.
“Jeff has a pretty good lead already,” added Johnson. “If he just puts his head down, rides consistent, and stays smart he has a pretty good handle on things. He can’t afford to have too many bad nights like last weekend, but I don’t think he will have that problem. He’s just too consistent and gets great starts. I’m just going to go out there and get good starts. That seems to be what it’s all about out there. I’m just gonna go and get some wins and help my pocketbook the best I can.”
Gibson is going to maintain his season-long approach to the title and added his thoughts.
“I’m lucky to have such a comfortable points lead. I’m really thankful for it. I’m going to continue to take things race by race. I’m confident in what I’m able to do. I’m not sure if Chad will be looking for me, but I know he will be up there. I don’t see any rivalry brewing. We’re good friends and rubbin’ is racing. I just need to take things race by race and be consistent.”
The BOK (Bank of Oklahoma) Center is the premier, state-of-the-art arena in Tulsa, Okla. Designed to host arena football, hockey, basketball, and concerts, the BOK cut the ribbons with its first event on August 30, 2008.
The 19,199 max seating, multi-purpose facility serves as the centerpiece of Tulsa County’s Vision 2025 development initiative. Operated by SMG, one of the nation’s leading arena management companies, the BOK Center is the permanent home to the Tulsa Oilers CHL hockey team and Tulsa Talons arena football team. It also hosts NBA preseason games, college basketball games, and in the future will welcome additional national/regional sporting events like the AMA Arenacross Series.
The first gates drop on the Tulsa Arenacross on Saturday at 7:30 p.m. Amateur Day concludes an exciting weekend of action on Sunday, beginning at 10 a.m.
Gold Circle level seats are just $30, while Mid Level seats are only $25. Super Value tickets start at $20. All seats are $2 more on the day of the show. Tickets for Sunday’s Amateur racing cost $15.