Irvine, Calif. – From Reno, Nev., Round 8 of the AMA Arenacross series decided on Saturday who would be eligible for the four-round Race to the Championship. Team Babbitt’s Monster Energy/Amsoil Kawasaki’s Tyler Bowers flexed his three-time champion muscle finishing third overall on Friday and first overall on Saturday to take the points lead and establish himself as the leader going into the Race to the Championship. Zach Ames, who held the points lead for the majority of the season, had an off weekend finishing with a sixth and a seventh overall but will sit second going into the final four rounds. Rookie Colt Nichols finished eighth on Friday but bounced back with a consistent 4-4 finish for second overall and secured his place in the Race to the Championship.
As a three-time Arenacross champion, Bowers is used to having the No.1 on his KX™250F, but it has been without the red number plates to signify the points leader. In the final round before the points are reset for the Race to the Championship Bowers won both first main events on Friday and Saturday and back to back nights selected the 16-rider inversion. Having to overcome two back-row, outside starts, Bowers did his best to fight through the field. He finished third overall on Friday which was enough to put him into the points lead going into Saturday. Knowing that he did not need to take any risks, Bowers recovered as best he could from his last place start and despite a crash, crossed the line in seventh. His 1-7 score was still enough to give him the overall on Saturday and he will lead the 10 riders who have qualified for the Race to the Championship.
“I was getting frustrated these past couple weeks,” said Bowers. “My bike doesn’t look as good without the red plates and I couldn’t make up any points on Zach. I’m happy to have the points lead back, my ankle is healed, and I’m ready to start the Race to the Championship.”
Ames came into Reno with a three-point lead over Bowers but misfortune seemed to find him all weekend. After winning his heat race on Friday, the fast line through the whoops was to jump instead of skim them. Ames did not try the line until the third lap of the first main event and ended up getting sideways and crashing. His 11th place finish gave him a good gate due to the inversion and he rebounded to finish second. Saturday his luck did not change as Ames experienced crashes and was pushed out on the start in the second main and could not find lines to cut through the pack. With the points reset for the Race to the Championship he sits in second with five points to Bowers’ six.
“It just wasn’t my weekend,” said Ames. “I felt pretty good on the track, and the track was really fun, but it wasn’t that great to race on with lappers and limited passing lines. Hopefully I got this out of my system and we can really turn it on for the last four rounds.”
Going For It
Nichols has shown his potential throughout the season and his goal all along was to make it to the Race to the Championship. Friday night he finished strong with eighth overall and battled upfront on Saturday to finish second overall. Consistency is what he has had trouble with at times this season, but on Saturday Nichols was able to put it together to win his heat race and race through the mains for a 4-4 score. Nichols sits seventh in the Race to the Championships with two points, just four back from Bowers.
“I’m really happy to end the regular season with a good result,” said Nichols. “Now that we’re into the Race to the Championship, I’m going to go for it. Everyone is tight in points and we just need to have four consistent weekends. It’s going to be a tough battle but as a rookie I really benefit from the reset of points. I’ve got eight rounds under my belt and now can really push for these last four.”
The Kawasaki KX250F has been the choice of many arenacross riders and half of the riders who are qualified for the Race to the Championship will be on Kawasaki. In addition to Team Babbitt’s riders Bowers, Ames, and Nichols, Michael McDade who has proven to be a title contender earlier in the season, and Gared Steinke have also chosen the winning KX250F and give Kawasaki the best odds in winning yet another AMA Arenacross Championship.
The Race Begins
The Race to the Championship begins Saturday in Tulsa, Okla., at the BOK Center. Only six points separate the 10 riders who are now eligible for the championship which should drastically increase the intensity for the final four rounds.
AMA Arenacross – Round 8
Reno Sparks Convention Center – Reno, Nev.
February 21-22, 2014
Arenacross Class Friday Overall
Jacob Hayes, Liberty, N.C., Honda (2-1)
Kyle Regal, Grand Prairie, Texas, Honda (3-3)
Tyler Bowers, Danville, Ky., Team Babbitt’s Monster Energy/Amsoil Kawasaki (1-5)
Gared Steinke, Woodland, Calif., Kawasaki (5-4)
Kelly Smith, Ludington, Mich., KTM (4-7)
Zach Ames, Prospect, Ohio, Team Babbitt’s Monster Energy/Amsoil Kawasaki (11-2)
Colt Nichols, S. Muskogee, Okla., Team Babbitt’s Monster Energy/Amsoil Kawasaki (8-6)
Willy Browning, Pleasantville, Ohio, KTM (7-8)
Cory Green, Nowata, Okla., Suzuki (6-9)
Kyle White, Freeport, Ill., Honda (9-10)
Arenacross Class Saturday Overall
Tyler Bowers, Danville, Ky., Team Babbitt’s Monster Energy/Amsoil Kawasaki (1-7)
Colt Nichols, S. Muskogee, Okla., Team Babbitt’s Monster Energy/Amsoil Kawasaki (4-4)
Kyle Regal, Grand Prairie, Texas, Honda (3-8)
RJ Hampshire, Hudson, Fla., Honda (11-1)
Cory Green, Nowata, Okla., Suzuki (8-3)
Michael McDade, McDonald, Ohio, Kawasaki (12-2)
Zach Ames, Prospect, Ohio, Team Babbitt’s Monster Energy/Amsoil Kawasaki (9-5)
Kelly Smith, Ludington, Mich., KTM (5-10)
Willy Browning, Pleasantville, Ohio, KTM (6-9)
Gared Steinke, Woodland, Calif., Kawasaki (10-6)
Arenacross Race to the Championship
Tyler Bowers, Danville, Ky., Team Babbitt’s Monster Energy/Amsoil Kawasaki – 6
Zach Ames, Prospect, Ohio, Team Babbitt’s Monster Energy/Amsoil Kawasaki – 5
Jacob Hayes, Greensboro, N.C., Honda – 4
Kyle Regal, Grand Prairie, Texas, Honda – 4
Cory Green, Nowata, Okla., Suzuki – 3
Willy Browning, Pleasantville, Ohio, KTM – 3
Colt Nichols, S. Muskogee, Okla., Team Babbitt’s Monster Energy/Amsoil Kawasaki – 2
Michael McDade, McDonald, Ohio, Kawasaki – 2
Travis Sewell, Westville, Ind., KTM – 1
Gared Steinke, Woodland, Calif., Kawasaki – 1