Last weekend’s second round of the 2012 AMA Arenacross Series season in Baltimore, Md., marked the first two-night showcase of the championship. After a total of 50 laps of premier Arenacross class competition, two different riders stood atop the podium at the end of the evening – Babbitt’s Monster Energy/AMSOIL Kawasaki presented by Maxxis’ Tyler Bowers and FMF Power/Poynt TUF Honda’s Jeff Gibson.
Bowers, the current series points leader and two-time winner in 2012, has finished on the podium in each of the three races this season. Gibson hasn’t been far behind, landing podium results in two of the three main events, and positioning himself just nine points behind Bowers heading into this weekend’s third round from Madison, Wis., and the Alliant Energy Center.
With a strong weekend behind him, and some valuable early-season momentum carrying him into the year’s second doubleheader weekend, we caught up with Gibson to get his thoughts on the season so far.
Jeff, you’re coming off a good weekend in Baltimore, where you managed to pick up your first win of the season. Talk about Saturday night and fending off Tyler Bowers in the final laps of the main event.
Saturday night was definitely a good night for me. I got some good laps in practice, which gave me a good starting gate for the heat race, and then I was able to get a good start in the heat race. I was able to win my heat, which gave me another good gate spot for the main event. I think where you started on the gate was crucial for this past weekend, so that helped a lot. In the main event, I got a decent start, coming out second, as was able to get around (Nathan) Skaggs pretty early. I tried to ride my own race, and pick through the lappers as well as I could – they got real hectic at the end of the race. But, I was just pumped to be out front. I’m doing what I can, you know?
Through three races, you’ve been on the podium in two of those three. You’re nine points out of the lead right now and right where you would want to be early in the season. How is the year going so far entering the third round of the season this weekend in Madison?
It’s been a good season so far. It’s a new year, and with the new motorcycle, you don’t know who’s going to do what. You have to go into it with no expectations and just do the best you can. That’s all I’m trying to do. I’m taking every race, every practice, just one step at a time. Put me best foot forward, and do the best I can every time I’m out there.
Talk about the competition this year – Bowers has shown his speed early, as has Josh Demuth, Chad Johnson and Nathan Skaggs. The field is deeper than it’s been in a long time and on any given night, anyone can win.
I definitely think the competition is tougher than it’s been in a long time. Add in the 250cc bikes, and it’s even tougher. Our practice times this weekend, on both nights, the lap times for the top 25 guys were all within a second. Those are like NASCAR times. It’s getting intense and I think anyone can win on any given night. It’s going to be a tough year for sure, but hopefully there will be a lot of winners and a lot of good racing.
What are your thoughts on the revamped schedule? With the season starting in the fall, you have about a month break following this weekend’s race in Madison, followed by another month after the next round in December. Then, you finish out the season once the New Year comes. How does that play into your approach for the championship?
I think it’s going to be good. I’m pretty excited about it. It gets hectic and tough when you have 12 weeks of just racing, because you start missing your family. It’s a good thing to be breaking it up a little bit. I was really excited when I heard it was going to be starting in October like it used to be. I think that’s the way arenacross should be. It’s cool having the season right now. We’re having really good turnouts, and the competition is deeper than ever.
Being just nine points out of the series lead, is it too early to be counting points and worrying about the championship this early in the year? When does it get to the point where you worry about having a bad night because you can’t afford to in the points?
Exactly. No one can afford a bad night. But, it’s too early to worry about the championship. Especially for me, because I’m not even in the points lead right now. I’m just trying to do the best I can each and every weekend. I’m having a lot of fun racing right now. I don’t really want to think about points or anything like that right now. I’m really blessed to be in the situation that I’m in. I’m excited to be at the races, and I’m just going to live it up while it lasts.
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