AURORA, Ill. – While his start to the 2014 AMSOIL Arenacross, featuring Ricky Carmichael’s Road to Supercross, season hasn’t been smooth through four nights of action, Babbitt’s Monster Energy/AMSOIL Kawasaki’s Tyler Bowers is still full of confidence. The reigning three-time Arenacross Class Champion has one win to his credit this season, but currently sits fourth in the championship following multiple instances of misfortune and hard luck.
Nevertheless, AMSOIL Arenacross’ most well-known competitor knows that things happen over the course of a long season and with the Race to the Championship looming in the near future, he simply needs to put himself in position to be able to make a late-season run at a potential fourth consecutive title. This weekend, Bowers is eagerly awaiting the chance to return to his home state of Kentucky for the third round of the 2014 season from Louisville and the Freedom Hall.
We caught up with Tyler to get his thoughts in the season so far and his outlook on the remainder of the 2014 championship for the first installment of “10 Questions.”
1. What do you think will be the biggest challenge this season in winning a fourth-straight AMSOIL Arenacross title?
Health is always the biggest factor. We race motorcycles over steep jumps and turns, on a short track with 16 other racers. It’s dangerous! My Team Babbitt’s Monster Energy/AMSOIL Kawasaki teammates are on it this year. Zach Ames is no slouch and I have seen the work he has been able to put in leading up to this season. Colt Nichols was a top amateur that just made the leap to the pro ranks, and he knows he has all the tools he could need on a great team. I think there is plenty of new talent bringing new young blood to the series, so it is going to be very alive and action packed this season!
2. How did going through the adversity of the broken collarbone last year help you grow as a rider?
It made me learn just how much I thought I could take, and what my body will actually endure. Now with my training and racing I am able to look at any moment almost fearlessly. It may hurt, but it’s not going to kill me and it will soon go away.
3. Have you done anything different in your preparations for this season?
Before last season I actually took a big break in the summer to kind of recharge my batteries. I came in with that fire to ride and race again. This year, though I was racing during the summer and fall in Costa Rica and Germany, it wasn’t packed full every weekend like most series. I was able to enjoy racing, while keeping my senses sharp.
4. Since you’ve won three consecutive AMSOIL Arenacross titles, do you think you kind of have a target on your back now as the guy to beat?
Yes, definitely. I learned in Worcester and Baltimore that this ‘target’ doesn’t seem to be metaphorical. There must literally be some sort of target in my decals that I didn’t get the memo about!
5. Do you feel like your competitors have stepped up their efforts?
Yes. I think there are some new riders that have clearly done their homework, and there are some existing racers that have switched teams and seem to be meshing a bit better on the new program. I know I step up my efforts every year myself, and I always imagine my competitors have that same motivation.
6. How do you keep pushing and finding that extra edge when you’re used to winning?
I don’t think you can ever be ‘used to winning.’ As soon as you start to feel comfortable, there is a second-place trophy waiting. For me, I keep pushing for wins because maybe it’s more of a fear of losing.
7. How did it feel to start the season off with a win and get some early momentum?
It felt great! I am on a great program again this year. The whole Team Babbitts Monster Energy/AMSOIL Kawasaki team is pushing as much as we can. My mechanic Scott Donk is very picky about the bike and it is so dialed in I could eat off of it. We know what we put in when we go to the races, so to see it pay off is always great.
8. It looks like your competitors are willing to be more aggressive in racing with you. How do you adjust to that?
I keep doing my thing. It’s a long season and this isn’t my first rodeo.
9. How does having teammates like Zach Ames and Colt Nichols help you stay at your best? Do you embrace being a mentor to them?
It’s great. Zach is a great training partner. Our close speed helps us both find that extra edge during the week to take to the races. He always keeps the mood around the team positive. He’s a very good guy to be around!
I have tried to embrace mentoring Colt as much as I can, but the kid handled himself in Worcester and Baltimore like a seasoned vet. He studied the tapes coming into the season and finished off his very first night just off the podium in fourth.
10. As the proverbial face of AMSOIL Arenacross, what have you learned outside of racing that comes as a result of being the sport’s go-to guy?
I’m starting to get quite good at interviews! Honestly, I was never much of a people person growing up out in the middle of nowhere. I soon found a smile can sometimes go further than lap times. Combine them both and you may become unstoppable!
Action from Louisville begins at 7 p.m. ET on Saturday night.
The entire AMSOIL Arenacross season will air on FOX Sports 1, including re-airs on FOX Sports 2. Live timing and scoring from each round of the AMSOIL Arenacross season returns for the 2014 season! To follow the intense racing action live, log onto www.Arenacross.com.
Photo: ShiftOne Photography