The new AMSOIL Arenacross, featuring Ricky Carmichael’s Road to Supercross, has provided some exceptional competition through its first month of action. Through seven nights of racing, Babbitt’s Monster Energy/AMSOIL Kawasaki, presented by Maxxis rider Tyler Bowers has asserted himself as the rider to beat heading into the inaugural Race to the Championship, which will begin in just two weeks from Little Rock, Ark. With five overall wins to his credit, Bowers heads into this weekend’s fifth round from Cedar Park, Texas, with a healthy points lead and a lot of momentum for two nights of action inside the Cedar Park Center.
AMSOIL Arenacross is loaded with exciting new elements this season, including two Main Events that feature a potential field inversion in between races, Head-to-Head Bracket Racing that awards a championship point to the winner, and the aforementioned Race to the Championship, which will ultimately crown this season’s champion. Bowers discussed these new changes and their influence on the championship thus far for this week’s Interview of the Week.
Tyler, you have been the most consistent rider this season, which is why you are currently atop the championship standings. Now that you’ve had a month of experience with the new racing format this season, what are your thoughts on the new AMSOIL Arenacross?
“I think it has gone really well and I’m happy with how I’ve done. I think everybody was waiting to see if they were prepared for it to start the season. It’s a totally new deal and it’s kind of hard to prepare for it with things like the inverted start for the second [Main Event]. It’s hard to know what’s going to happen. I’ve been impressed with how well everything has flowed and how well it fits into the championship. I’ve always wanted shorter races and more of them for the sport in general, so arenacross shortening everything up has lifted the excitement on the track. The racing has been great and exciting to say the least and I think all the riders have adjusted to it now.”
You’ve had your work cut out for you with the inversion between Main Events this season. However, you’ve won after experiencing both an eight- and 16-rider inversion, even though you aren’t getting your ideal gate position. How has the inversion played into the way you approach each weekend, given that it is such an unpredictable thing?
“I think the eight-rider inversion is the most difficult because it puts you on pretty much the worst gate possible all the way on the outside. However, I’ve been fortunate to get some good starts that have allowed me to put myself right near the front. Earlier this year I accidentally stalled my bike after overcoming the eight-rider inversion, but I was able to still battle my way through the field to get a top-five finish. I still think that I’m the most proud of that race so far this season because I gave all the top riders a head start. I let them all go away and then had to catch up.
“With that experience, I haven’t worried about the inversion, even if its 16 riders. I know that I have the ability to climb through the field.. I just know that if I can get off to a good start, I’ll be in a position to try and make things happen as long as I can get through the first corner and stay out of trouble. I’m pumped that I’ve been able to stay out of trouble pretty much the whole season because it’s definitely helped me perform so well.”
With the Head-to-Head Bracket Races there’s a championship point on the line as well. You’ve won two of those this season and have been in the final of others. How do you think those points are going to play into the championship?
“I’ve always liked the head-to-head races. I’ve done quite of bit of them in the past back at the U.S. Open of Supercross and overseas at the Madrid Supercross in Spain. That basic setup is the way I practice during the week. One of the goals in my training is to do two lap sprints all the time and I time my rest between the sprints, so that there’s just enough time for my heart rate to drop and get right back up again. It’s a pretty good workout during the week and that’s what I’ve been doing for the past two or three years. This season the head-to-head races have played out almost exactly the way I practice them during the week. Zach Ames and I did it all of last season and into this preseason. It’s been almost like we’re back at the practice track at home training again because it’s exactly the same amount of rest in between. I knew that is something I would do well with. It’s a good show, it’s exciting for the fans, and now that the other guys have gotten the hang of it, it’s made for some really good racing.”
Your teammate Zach Ames and Michael McDade have been your main title contenders this season. As the points leader and looking at your competition, how hard is it going to be to win this championship once the Race to the Championship begins?
“The competition is deep like always. It seems like a couple of the other contenders were unprepared at the start of the season. Some of the main guys from last year just didn’t appear to be at the top of their game initially, but they are starting to really get dialed in. McDade has really picked his training up and his speed up and he’s on top of his game this year. The guy has always been a talented rider, so it’s good to see he’s putting it together on the track on the weekends. I knew Ames was going to be a problem. I train with him during the week and I live with him, so I know exactly what he’s doing. We’ve always been the same speed at the practice track. Last year I think he had some trouble playing the game on the weekends and he made some bad decisions early in the season, so it took him a while to get back up to speed and get everything figured out. I think with the [Babbitt’s] team this year he has a newfound confidence and it just excited about everything, which has shown on the weekends.
“I think the biggest competition is going to be myself, just trying to stay off the ground and out of trouble. It’s going to be a long season and I think some of the other riders have raced themselves into shape and are now more consistent. Coming into the championship-deciding rounds at the end, some of those guys will definitely be prepared for them and could make it really exciting for the championship over those final four rounds.”
With the Race to the Championship coming at the seventh round in just two weeks, does that affect your approach? Do you still take it race-by-race or do you set your sights on that and reset once that time comes?
“I’m taking a little bit different take on my training altogether this season. Last year I was ready a few weeks to a month ahead of the season. I was at the peak of my training before the season started and the only place to go from there is down. I got to the point where I was going out and riding all the time. I hit the ground a lot and I was always hurt, whether it was crashing during the week or on the weekend during the races. There was always something; a nagging pain somewhere that ended up hindering me.
“This year I’ve got that hunger. I took a break during the summer and literally did nothing but hang out, work on old trucks, and fish. Coming into the season this year I was really fired up and excited for everything. My trainer timed me out to peak right about five rounds from the end, so I’m just really excited about what we’ve been doing during the week. I feel like I’m in shape now and I felt great in every single race this season. I’m energized and just really amped right now, so I think I’m only going to get better as the season winds down.”
As the points leader, everyone is targeting you each night. You have a comfortable points lead, but you still are pushing to win every race. What is you approach from now until the Race to the Championship begins?
“Just try and win some more races. Try to go out and get the first Main Event win, pick a briefcase [for the inversion] and just go from there. Starts are really key in this now. I’m going to keep setting my sights on a good start in the first Main Event. In the second one, no matter whether I have first gate pick, last gate pick, or whatever, I’m just going to give it 110% and try to get through the pack early on if need be, try to get into the lead, and stay comfortable.”
The Cedar Park stop of AMSOIL Arenacross inside the Cedar Park Center kicks off tonight, beginning at 8 p.m. ET. The action continues with a second night of action tomorrow, beginning at 8 p.m. ET. Broadcast coverage of Saturday night’s competition can be seen via tape delay exclusively on SPEED on Sunday, February 3, beginning at 1 p.m. ET.
Live timing and scoring from each round of the AMSOIL Arenacross season returns for the 2013 season! To follow the intense racing action live, log onto www.Arenacross.com.
For more information on the 2013 AMSOIL Arenacross season, log on to www.Arenacross.com. For all media requests, please contact Brandon Short firstname.lastname@example.org
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About AMSOIL Arenacross
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