This weekend, the 2012 AMA Arenacross Series heads to its second new venue in as many weeks, as the ninth round of the championship commences from Lexington, Ky., and Rupp Arena for the first time.
While Babbitt’s Monster Energy/AMSOIL Kawasaki’s Tyler Bowers looks to continue his impressive season in the premier Arenacross Class while competing in front of his hometown crowd on Saturday, the spotlight will be shifted to the Eastern Regional Arenacross Lites Class, which will crown a champion this weekend.
’s Michael McDade has been exceptionally consistent this season, and because of that, he’s been rewarded with the coveted chance to secure an AMA title. Heading into the final round of the Eastern Regional Arenacross Lites Class season, McDade holds a 17-point lead over Dragon Racing Fuels/AG Motorsports KTM’s Michael Willard. With one win to his credit and a multitude of podium efforts, McDade has been tough to beat and has ultimately withstood every challenge this season to arrive in this position.
Michael, summarize what has gotten you into this position this weekend, where you can secure your first career title?
I planned on racing Arenacross this year, but as we got closer, we didn’t have the chance to ride. So, we showed up in Baltimore with the plan to ride the whole season in the premier class, but didn’t get a ride. We decided to race in the Lites class sort of in an effort to get ready for the upcoming Supercross season and its gone well. I’ve been on the podium every weekend but one and that’s basically what we were trying to work on, being consistent.
I know some other people had problems and it got close there with some others – Dave Ginolfi and Mike Willard – but it’s been good. We’ve been consistent, and I’m happy with how it’s going.
Talk about your experience in Arenacross. What has attributed to all the consistency and success you’ve had this season?
I last raced Arenacross in 2008, and I think I got like 30 holeshots out of 32 (races). This year, I haven’t gotten a holeshot, but I’ve just been calm and sat back. You get hit a lot and luckily I haven’t been taken out in the Lites class. Sometimes, I’ll start fifth and maybe end up winning, while other times I start second and finish second.
My main goal was to be on the podium and as long as I started up towards the front, I would just be real calm. If I was running in third and could see the leaders, I’d sort of hang back, which I hate doing, but for points it works out.
You mentioned that you were hoping to compete in the Arenacross Class, but things didn’t work out. When you chose to race in the Eastern Regional Arenacross Lites Class, did you expect to win the championship?
I showed up at Baltimore just to see if I could ride Arenacross, because I haven’t done it in about three years. I actually took a year off of racing (in general) last year. I hadn’t done too much racing and we showed up in Baltimore, primarily because it was close, just to see what we could do. I ended up getting second the first night and on the second night; I started last and ended up winning. So, we decided to go for the Lites Championship.
What has it meant to have the chance to become an AMA Champion?
It’s awesome, because I took off 2010, I rode a little in 2011 and got hurt, then I found out I was having a baby. When it got close to my son being born, I got a trainer – Shane Shipley – and we just started training. I didn’t expect something like this. But, coming from not riding at all, showing up on the weekends and being as consistent as I’ve been, I think having my son has helped me be more calm. Everyone knew me as crazy. I’d just go for it and end up crashing most of the time. But, this year I think I have it figured out.
What are you looking to do this weekend? You have a healthy lead coming into it.
I want to win this weekend. I actually haven’t won since Baltimore. Now that I know I have a little margin for error and a pretty good lead, I’ll probably just go for it. I (also) plan on doing the last three West rounds because I have a ride with Reed & Reese KTM.
It’s been a breakthrough season for you. How does it feel to take a chance on Arenacross and have so much good come from it?
It’s awesome. I’ve worked since February 2011 to come back. I’ve had to spend a lot of time away my family as well, but this is awesome. I wish it was in the (premier) class, but ultimately, I wanted to work on consistency. I think it’s harder to be consistent in the Lites Class. The hard work paid off. Sacrificing things and doing the right thing is something I never did, so it’s nice to see it work out in my favor.
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