As the 2011 AMA Arenacross
Series championship heads back to Louisville and the Freedom Hall for the first time since 2009, the battle for the top of the Arenacross class standings is heating up. Through five rounds, just three points separates TUF Honda
’s Jeff Gibson and Babbitt’s Monster Energy/TiLUBE Kawasaki
’s presented by Maxxis’ Tyler Bowers.
Statistically, Gibson holds the advantage with three victories and six podium efforts through seven races. He kicked off the season with an impressive three-race winning streak and after falling off the podium for the first time this season the following race. He’s rebounded strongly, currently boasting his second three-race podium streak of the young season.
Meanwhile, Bowers has started to turn things around after a slow start by his standards. Still working back to full health after breaking his leg last season, the winningest rider from 2010 only garnered one podium through the first three rounds. However, once he grabbed his first win of the season, Bowers has yet to finish worse than second in the three races since and in that span, has also managed to keep Gibson behind him in the results.
As a result, the two fastest riders in the series are neck and neck and with two riders in such close proximity in both speed and results, consistency will be the key to grabbing the advantage. To this point, neither rider has experienced a bad evening. In fact, while both riders boast a worst result of fourth, it hasn’t been without some drama. Despite the adversity they’ve faced, it’s impressive to see the amount of resiliency both Gibson and Bowers have shown. The AMA Arenacross Series is a tough and tenacious series full of fast and highly competitive riders that aren’t afraid to be physical and both riders strong results is a testament to their will to win.
While three points separates the top two, 12 additional points separate the duo from Babbitt’s Monster Energy/TiLUBE Kawasaki rider Chad Johnson, who sits lonely in the third spot. Through the first three rounds, Johnson’s relied on back-to-back-to-back third-place finishes to sit within striking distance of Gibson. He followed those efforts up with consecutive season-best finishes, grabbing a runner-up finish before breaking through for his first win of the season. However, after experiencing the elation of victory, Johnson faltered just one race later, finishing sixth and effectively falling out of the early-season title fight.
While Johnson has posted some of the best results in the series and should be proud of his results to this point, it’s a testament to the level of competition that the AMA Arenacross Series has reached in 2011 while also placing further emphasis of the well-known logic that consistency can make or break a season in this discipline.
With strong rides throughout the season from several other riders in the series including third Babbitt’s rider Gray Davenport, Foremost Insurance/Spinechillers/HondaofFairfield.com’s Zach Ames and the series’ most recent winner Cole Siebler, of TUF Honda, neither Gibson, Bowers, or Johnson are in the clear despite a comfortable margin in the championship standings. In just one race, the entire complexion of the season could change dramatically should any one of the top three riders encounter trouble. No rider knows that more than Bowers who despite capturing nine victories in 2010, still missed out on the championship after suffering his season-ending injury with only three rounds remaining.
When the gates drop on the Arenacross class main event Saturday night inside the Freedom Hall, it will not only be a battle to win, but a battle to stay in the fight for the coveted championship, putting oneself in position to capitalize on opportunities, while also avoiding impending misfortune.
Louisville’s Freedom Hall is a near-20,000 capacity arena on the grounds of the Kentucky Exposition Center. The venue is best known as the former home of the University of Louisville Cardinals basketball program, but is now the site of various entertainment events and athletic competitions.
Freedom Hall was opened in 1956 and sits just outside downtown Louisville. It helped the Cardinals’ basketball franchise reach nationally-ranked attendance figures, including 16 years of attendance above 100 percent. On Saturday night, the sounds of dirt bikes will fill the halls while the avid arenacross fans in the state of Kentucky embrace the return of this one-of-a-kind competition.
The action commences for the Louisville Arenacross this Saturday at 7 p.m. ET. Amateur Day concludes an exciting weekend of action on Sunday, beginning at 10 a.m. ET.
Advance tickets are available for this weekend’s Louisville Arenacross at the Freedom Hall Box Office, Ticketmaster charge by phone, and ticketmaster.com. Tickets cost $2 more the day of the race.
New for 2011! Live timing and scoring from each round of the AMA Arenacross Series. To follow the intense racing action live, log onto www.Arenacross.com
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