After quite possibly the most dominant season by a single team in AMA Arenacross Series history, the Team Babbitt’s Monster Energy/TiLube Kawasaki presented by Maxxis team returns for the 2011 championship set to defend its title with their talented lineup of the AMA Arenacross Series’ toughest competitors. Fresh off sweeping the championship podium and winning all but one race in 2010, the Babbitt’s team returns ready to defeat the competition ahead.
While defending AMA Arenacross Series Champion Josh Demuth is sidelined with an injury suffered in preseason testing, his teammates Chad Johnson and Tyler Bowers are prepared to assume control and lead the team to further success. Both Johnson, a former series champion, and Bowers, the winningest rider of the 2010 season, have what it takes to fill the void left by their teammate’s misfortune after finishing second and third respectively one year ago.
“I think both Chad and Tyler have been working hard (this offseason),” said Babbitt’s Team Manager Denny Bartz. “They are both focused on winning. The absence of Josh ultimately means one less person they need to worry about and I believe they’re ready to take advantage of that.”
Johnson captured three wins last season and was in the thick of the title fight until the final round in Denver. The 2006 and 2008 AMA Arenacross series champion and arenacross veteran has always been a major threat and with one less rival to worry about, albeit his teammate and friend, will be ready to lay claim to his potential third crown.
“Chad is coming in more prepared this season than he has the last two years,” added Bartz. “He’s been riding and racing a lot more whether its hare scramble or some supercross races in Germany. He is as ready as he’s ever been.”
For Bowers, the 2010 season was one of heartbreak. The young up and comer appeared destined to capture his first professional title after capturing a stellar nine victories. However, as the series hit the home stretch, Bowers suffered a season-ending injury in preparation for the final two rounds of the season and was forced to watch the championship go to his teammate.
“After last year ended the way it did, Tyler is absolutely more determined this season,” said Bartz. “He felt like (last season’s championship) was his title to lose and that’s what ended up happening. It ended up costing him a lot at the end of the year and he’s coming into (2011) really aggressive.”
The unfortunate circumstance surrounding Demuth and his defense of the AMA Arenacross Series title in addition to the hard luck of Bowers one year ago serves as a reminder to how quickly things can change in the sport. Nothing is ever a given and Bartz is making sure his remaining riders are aware of that.
“All of our guys are well aware that they have to be consistent every weekend,” Bartz continued. “If they can’t win, they need to be as close to the box as possible. You really need to be able to capitalize should the opportunity present itself.”
Despite losing the season champion and a significant weapon in their defense of the AMA Arenacross Series title, the Babbitt’s team has brought in veteran rider Gray Davenport to take Demuth’s place for the entire season. A former race winner in the series, Davenport will round out the lineup well.
“Gray has been training with Tyler in California and I hope to get a lot out of him,” said Bartz. “His transition to the team should be pretty easy since he’s been a longtime Kawasaki rider. He’s comfortable on the bike and it results in little change so it’s almost a perfect fit.”
As for Demuth’s 2011 plans, “If and when he’s ready, we will have a bike for him,” Bartz concluded. “However, based on a recent visit to the doctors, it doesn’t look like he will be able to come back this season. In any case, you can count on him being in Tulsa for the opening round to support the team and the series.”
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