The 2016 AMSOIL Arenacross season is nearing its halfway point and through six races the competition has been some of the best in the history of the championship. In the midst of this intense competition, Team Babbitt’s/Monster Energy/AMSOIL Kawasaki’s Jacob Hayes has managed to put himself at the forefront of the action more often than not, earning his championship-leading third overall win of the season this past weekend. As a result, Hayes carries a 19-point lead into this weekend’s return to Tampa, Florida, and Amalie Arena for the seventh round of the season this Saturday, February 20.
Hayes’ was at his best last weekend in Birmingham, sweeping both Arenacross Class Main Events en route to the overall victory. The pair of Main Event triumphs gives the Kawasaki rider a total of eight Main Event wins, three more than the next closest competitor. Since narrowly missing out on the championship last season, Hayes has been on a mission to put himself back in a position to become the first recipient of the prestigious Ricky Carmichael Cup at season’s end. With only two rounds remaining until the cutoff to the Race to the Championship, Hayes has positioned himself with the opportunity to be the top seed heading into the season-ending playoff.
All the momentum Hayes has garnered to this point in the championship can surely be attributed to the success of his Team Babbitt’s teammates Gavin Faith and Chris Blose. This trio has at least two wins apiece and has occupied the top three in the championship standings since the opening round. Knowing either one of his teammates will be there to battle him bar-to-bar for the win has undoubtedly pushed Hayes to make sure his starts are on point and maintain an unmatched level of consistency. Team Babbitt’s is feeding off one another’s speed and it’s showing on the track.
While most of the win share this season has gone to Team Babbitt’s, a growing number of riders are showing they will be a threat when the Race to the Championship gets underway. Following a season-best runner-up finish last weekend, TiLUBE/Tuf Racing Honda’s Jace Owen appears ready to take the next step in his progression. He and his teammate Ben Lamay are both first year AMSOIL Arenacross competitors, and both riders have finished on the overall podium. The rider that is arguably the most poised to threaten Team Babbitt’s consistency is TZR/Woodstock KTM’s Travis Sewell. The veteran rider is the only non-Kawasaki winner in 2016 and his progression into the elite group of riders at the front of the field has everyone on alert as the season continues.
The bright spot of last weekend’s race in Birmingham was the quick success achieved by Austin Stroupe in his first race with Rockstar Energy Drink Husqvarna Factory Racing presented by FMC and OTSFF. Stroupe is filling in for injured defending champion Kyle Regal and finished on the overall podium in his first start with the team. The North Carolina native already has an Arenacross Lites Class win to his credit this season and he’s clearly committed to making the most of the opportunity ahead of him. Currently sitting 15th in the Arenacross Class standings, 62 points out of 10th, it’s not out of the question for Stroupe to make a run at qualifying for the Race to the Championship.
With the Race to the Championship looming, many of the riders currently sitting inside the top 10 of the Arenacross Class standings appear as though they’ll soon punch their ticket to the playoff. Rockstar Energy Drink Husqvarna Factory Racing’s Kyle Bitterman currently occupies the 10th and final spot and holds a 21-point margin over TZR/Woodstock KTM’s Cody VanBuskirk in 11th. Although he is currently on the sidelines, Regal sits eighth in the championship with two rounds remaining. The Champ is eagerly awaiting his opportunity to return to the track in time for the Race to the Championship where he’ll defend his title in what is sure to be an all-out battle for the Ricky Carmichael Cup.
In the Eastern Regional Arenacross Lites Class Championship the latest promising young talent in Ricky Carmichael’s Road to Supercross emerged as Sean Cantrell won his AMSOIL Arenacross debut aboard his Troy Lee Designs/Red Bull/KTM. It wasn’t an easy path to victory for Cantrell, as he engaged in a captivating battle with championship leader and A&Y Racing Honda’s Daniel Herrlein. It was the most exciting Arenacross Class Main Event of the season, and Cantrell is keeping the momentum rolling this season for Road to Supercross competitors, following the success that Austin Forkner and Chase Sexton have already achieved. For Herrlein, he’ll bring a 36-point lead in the Eastern Regional Championship into Tampa.
The seventh round of AMSOIL Arenacross from Tampa’s Amalie Arena will kick off at 4 p.m. PT / 7 p.m. ET on Saturday, February 20.
Previous Round Results
Legacy Arena – Birmingham, Alabama
February 13, 2016
Arenacross Class Overall Results (Main Event Results)
1. Jacob Hayes, Liberty, N.C., Kawasaki (1-1)
2. Jace Owen, Matoon, Ill., Honda (5-2)
3. Austin Stroupe, Lincolnton, N.C., Husqvarna (4-3)
4. Travis Sewell, Westville, Ind., KTM (3-4)
5. Chris Blose, Phoenix, Kawasaki (2-5)
6. Gavin Faith, Duncombe, Iowa, Kawasaki (6-7)
7. Gared Steinke, Woodland, Calif., Husqvarna (7-6)
8. Ben Lamay, Forney, Texas, Honda (10-8)
9. Daniel Herrlein, Bethesda, Ohio, Honda (9-9)
10. Cody VanBuskirk, Harvard, Ill., KTM (8-13)
Arenacross Class Championship Standings
1. Jacob Hayes, Liberty, N.C., Kawasaki – 262 (8 Main Event Wins)
2. Gavin Faith, Duncombe, Iowa, Kawasaki – 243 (2 Main Event Wins)
3. Chris Blose, Phoenix, Kawasaki – 237 (1 Main Event Win)
4. Travis Sewell, Westville, Ind., KTM – 235 (5 Main Event Wins)
5. Ben Lamay, Forney, Texas, Honda – 165
6. Jace Owen, Matoon, Ill., Honda – 146
7. Gared Steinke, Woodland, Calif., Husqvarna – 143
8. Kyle Regal, Lake Elsinore, Calif., Husqvarna – 130
9. Daniel Herrlein, Bethesda, Ohio, Honda – 127
10. Kyle Bitterman, West Pelzer, S.C., Husqvarna – 115
Eastern Regional Arenacross Lites Class Results
1. Sean Cantrell, Murrieta, Calif., KTM
2. Daniel Herrlein, Bethesda, Ohio, Honda
3. Cody VanBuskirk, Harvard, Ill., KTM
4. Dylan Walker, Lancaster, Ohio, Honda
5. Justin Cooper, Cold Spring Harbor, N.Y., Yamaha
6. DJ MacFarlane, Pinellas Park, Fla., Yamaha
7. Henry Miller, Rochester, Minn., Honda
8. Jared Lesher, Ball Ground, Ga., KTM
9. Jake McKinney, Hamersville, Ohio, Honda
10. Mathew Weakley, Atoka, Tenn., Husqvarna
Eastern Regional Arenacross Lites Class Standings
1. Daniel Herrlein, Bethesda, Ohio, Honda – 90 (2 Main Event Wins)
2. Dylan Walker, Lancaster, Ohio, Honda – 54
3. Jacob Williamson, Swartz Creek, Mich., Kawasaki – 47 (1 Main Event Win)
4. Steve Roman, Apollo, Pa., Suzuki – 43
5. Justin Cooper, Cold Spring Harbor, N.Y., Yamaha – 42
6. Lane Staley, Chillicothe, Ohio, KTM – 39
7. Tyler McSwain, Shelby, N.C., Yamaha – 35
8. Henry Miller, Rochester, Minn., Honda – 34
9. DJ MacFarlane, Pinellas Park, Fla., Yamaha – 21
10. Brandon Hartranft, Brick, N.J., Yamaha – 18
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