Toyota AMA National Arenacross Series Throttles Into the Holiday SeasonThursday, December 8, 2005 | 12:50 PM
Fans still buzzing over start of AMA National Arenacross Series’ most competitive season to date!
AURORA, Ill., (Dec. 8, 2005) – With four races in the books, the 2005-’06 Toyota AMA National Arenacross Series will take a bit of a break to let its race warriors heal up and spend some time over the holidays with their families before getting right back after it when the season picks up again at Dallas’ Reunion Arena (Jan. 6-7).
This past weekend in Rockford (Ill.) was a burner. Yamaha’s “Rad” Chad Johnson, who’d all but dominated the season thus far, proved to be invincible as Thor/Honda/TUF Racing’s Brock Sellards showed on Friday he’s got the ‘Right Stuff,’ rocketing through the pack to take the AMA Arenacross class win. Johnson was back at it on Saturday, winning an exciting heat race battle with namesake rival “Revin’” Kevin Johnson and parlaying that energy into a convincing win on Saturday night.
So, with Sellards taking an eight-point bite out of Johnson’s lead at the break – which now stands at 25 points – here is a look at how the season’s shaped up so far and what Toyota AMA National Arenacross Series fans can expect for ’06:
“As good as any race I’ve seen in Arenacross” - Those were the words of longtime AX announcer Tim Cotter regarding the heat race between the series’ two Johnsons – Rad Chad and Revin’ Kevin. Said Chad Johnson of the battle: “Man, we had about five to six lead changes in that one. Kevin was haulin’ and it took all I had to get out in front of him. That race definitely helped fire me up for the main. That and the fact I had a ton of fans there.”
Sellards’ momentum - The only guy to beat Chad Johnson to the top of the podium this year has been Sellards. According to the likeable veteran racer, it’s taken a bit of time to adjust to this ‘Microwave Supercross’ style of racing. But now that he has – and has pulled off two premier AMA Arenacross class wins in the last four races (Charlotte & Rockford) – the stage is now set for what will no doubt be a down-to-the-wire finish in Denver (Feb. 10-11). Said Sellards on his season thus far: “If I wasn’t crashing all the time I’d probably be leading this thing. My bike’s finally dialed-in and I’m for sure looking forward to every race. This has definitely been a lot of fun.”
Little behind-the-scenes action - Though nothing escalated on the track, tempers flared a bit behind the curtain at Rockford. While no big punches were landed, word in the pits was that there was some pushing and shoving going on – a direct result of some of the world’s best tight quarters racers all wanting to ‘get there first!’ Reportedly half the Kody & Cody Show – Kody Molitor – was not terribly excited about getting bounced on the track and stuck up for himself afterwards. Added Cotter: “Friday night at Rockford was like a pinball game. Even I got hit – and I haven’t been hit in 28 years!”
A couple Jims - Suzuki-backed teammates Jim Neese and Jim Chester have been on it as of late. Said Cotter of the veteran racers: “I don’t recall saying their names much, but by golly both of them were right up on the box at Rockford!” Neese finished third in the AMA Arenacross class on Saturday while Chester won the AMA Lites class on Saturday. “Patience and finesse pays of and some of our young guys should pay attention to that.”
Rock & Roll & Arenacross - Race promoters added a new twist to liven up the action during the down time between motos. CCE Promotion Manager Nicole Champagne brought in the rock band “Detagoh” to jam for the fans when the bikes weren’t on the pipe. The plan was to add a new, fun dimension to the race, mix things up a bit while always striving to find the formula that makes the Toyota AMA National Arenacross Series that much better for everybody in attendance.
Schnell’s back - Don’t look now Johnson and Sellards, but Rockstar/Suzuki’s Greg Schnell is back and on a rail. With two great starts to go with two second-place finishes in Rockford, the now-healthy preseason favorite will be right in the hunt come Dallas through Denver.
Carmichael’s # 4 jersey retired at Rockford? - Sure enough it was. Only difference, and it’s a biggie, was that this was the Rockford Lightning’s No. 4 “Brent” Carmichael, a hockey player, who’s motocross skills we’re sure don’t match up to RC’s.
Benefiting from the Christmas break will be… - According to Toyota AMA National Arenacross Series Event Manager Pam Lambert, the break effects different racers in different ways. “Traditionally, the guys who stand to benefit the most are the ones that return home for the holidays to regions that still allow for riding. So in that case, Greg Schnell returning to California is more of a benefit than Chad Johnson returning to Wisconsin. The break is also a time for the guys who haven’t quite figured it out yet to work on some things in order to catch up, which will for sure make the second half of the season a barn burner.”
So who’s the favorite to start the second half of the season? - “After the last two races the whole field knows that Chad’s (Johnson) vulnerable,” said Cotter. “We’re out of Chad’s backyard now (Des Moines & Rockford) so it’s going to be a little more difficult on him because, as far as I know, he’ll be driving to all the races with Junior Jackson (team owner/mechanic). And those road trips are going to take their toll.” Cotter added that Jeff Northrop, Sellards’ teammate, and Schnell both have an advantage in that they can ride during the break and said that Chad Johnson “better look to get out west to train and practice” during the next several weeks.
Toyota AMA National Arenacross Series points standings (AMA Arenacross class), number of race wins in parentheses -
# Name (wins) Points
1. 3 Chad Johnson (6) 180
2. 18 Brock Sellards (2) 155
3. 4 Kevin Johnson 139
4. 2 Jeff Northrop 137
5. 40 Greg Schnell 134
6. 10 Jim Neese 130
7. 9 Shawn Clark 108
8. 15 Cody Gilmore 88
9. 296 Zach Ames 87
10. 44/ Jim Chester 62
11. 150 Scott Metz 60
12. 14 Roy Horton 43
13. 16 John Dowd 42
14. 501 Travis Hodges 41
15. 312 Kevin Markwardt 35
Tickets are available online at www.arenacross.com, www.ticketmaster.com, www.tickets.com (Guthrie and Green Bay only).
For more information on the Toyota AMA National Arenacross Series log on to www.arenacross.com.