Irvine, Calif. (March 4, 2014) – After eight rounds of AMA Arenacross, the points were reset for the Race to the Championship that kicked off Saturday from the BOK Center in Tulsa, Okla. Team Babbitt’s Monster Energy/Amsoil Kawasaki’s Zach Ames took both main event wins and established himself as the championship points leader. Rookie Colt Nichols finished second overall in front of his hometown crowd and showed he could mix it in with the veterans such as reigning champion Tyler Bowers who finished sixth overall due to a crash in the first main event. Kawasaki swept the podium in the second main event as Team Babbitt’s Ames, Nichols, and Bowers finished first through third.
Leading the Chase
Ames carried the red backgrounds on his KX™250F for much of the regular season as the points leader but lost the lead entering the Race to the Championship to his teammate. Determined to regain control, he grabbed both main event holeshots and battled an aggressive field to take both wins. Ames takes the early lead in the Race to the Championship with a seven point gap.
“My day started off rough,” said Ames. “I had a big crash in practice but was able to regroup and ripped two holeshots in the main events. I thought my line in the whoops was fast but I dropped to third and when I changed it, I reeled the leaders back in. There are still a couple things I can work on but am excited to lead us into Albuquerque. I know if I keep winning I can build a gap and win this thing”
Nichols could not wait to kick off the Race to the Championship on Saturday since he was in front of his hometown crowd. He qualified fifth and transferred to the main events quietly. He made some adjustments to his Kawasaki before the main events and they made all the difference. With family and friends in the crowd, Nichols didn’t get the start but was determined to move forward and passed his way up to fourth place by the checkered flag. In the second main event, he started with the leaders and worked his way into second. Nichols charged hard to catch his teammate but came up just short, granting him second overall.
“I really wanted to get the win for the hometown crowd,” said Nichols. “In the first main I was shocked when I saw I had caught up to fourth place and knew I had the speed to make it happen in the next main. I’m really happy with second and that I’m tied for second in points. I’ve learned a lot over the regular season and plan to apply it in these last few rounds.”
As three-time champion, Bowers knows the importance of each race at this point in the championship and looked to put another win under his belt. He won his heat and the head-to-head bracket races and pushed his way into the lead early in the first main event. Bowers was pulling away until two lappers crashed in the whoops, blocking his path and sending him to the ground. He got up and was able to finish, but was credited 13th. Since Ames randomly selected no inversion, a back-row start in the second main event forced Bowers to come through the field and rounded out the podium behind his two teammates in third. The champ sits sixth in points, but just 12 markers from the lead.
“I really felt I had the first main event won,” said Bowers. “Everything was clicking and I felt great on the bike until I was committed, fourth gear tapped, to the whoops and crashed with a downed rider. I had nowhere to go. I made the most of it and I’m pumped we were able to sweep the podium in the second main event. I’m making it hard on myself, but I’m here to win a championship and I know I can recover from this.”
With the points reset for the top-10 and the Race to the Championship under way, all the riders feel they have a shot at the championship. Only six points separated the top-10 coming into Tulsa which resulted in a drastic increase in the aggression on the track. All 10 riders will continue to fight for their chance at the championship as the series moves on to Tingley Coliseum in Albuquerque, N.M.
“The racing is a lot different now,” said Bowers. “Everyone has a second chance to win the championship and it seems to give the whole field a second wind. Ten guys think they have a shot at the title now and are going to be going for it every weekend.”
AMA Arenacross – Round 9
BOK Center – Tulsa, Okla.
Saturday, March 1, 2014
Arenacross Class Overall
1. Zach Ames, Prospect, Ohio, Team Babbitt’s Monster Energy/Amsoil Kawasaki (1-1)
2. Colt Nichols, S. Muskogee, Okla., Team Babbitt’s Monster Energy/Amsoil Kawasaki (4-2)
3. Cory Green, Nowata, Okla., Suzuki (3-4)
4. Kyle Regal, Grand Prairie, Texas, Honda (2-6)
5. Travis Sewell, Westville, Ind., KTM (5-9)
6. Tyler Bowers, Danville, Ky., Team Babbitt’s Monster Energy/Amsoil Kawasaki (13-3)
7. Michael McDade, McDonald, Ohio, Kawasaki (9-7)
8. Willy Browning, Pleasantville, Ohio, KTM (7-8)
9. Jacob Hayes, Liberty, N.C., Honda (14-5)
10. Kelly Smith, Ludington, Mich., KTM (8-12)
Race to the Championship Points Standings
1. Zach Ames, Prospect, Ohio, Team Babbitt’s Monster Energy/Amsoil Kawasaki – 38
2. Colt Nichols, S. Muskogee, Okla., Team Babbitt’s Monster Energy/Amsoil Kawasaki – 31
3. Kyle Regal, Grand Prairie, Texas, Honda – 31
4. Cory Green, Nowata, Okla., Suzuki – 30
5. Tyler Bowers, Danville, Ky., Team Babbitt’s Monster Energy/Amsoil Kawasaki – 26
6. Willy Browning, Pleasantville, Ohio, KTM – 22
7. Travis Sewell, Westville, Ind., KTM – 22
8. Michael McDade, McDonald, Ohio, Kawasaki – 21
9. Jacob Hayes, Greensboro, N.C., Honda – 20
10. Gared Steinke, Woodland, Calif., Kawasaki – 15