AURORA, Ill., (Nov. 14, 2006) - One of the original MX guard from Albuquerque, N.M., TUF Racing’s Justin Buckelew brings to the Toyota AMA Arenacross Series table a wealth of experience racing at the top levels of both Amp’d Mobile Supercross and the AMA Outdoor MX Nationals. Buckelew first hit the scene as a highly-touted amateur in 2000, then paid dues quickly as he won the 125 class main event as the San Diego round of the 2001 supercross series.
With three additional podium finishes in 2001 racing for the Yamaha of Troy team, Buckelew would go on to a third place overall finish in the 125 class title chase – his best career finish to date.
A definite supercross specialist, Buckelew will now focus on the entire 2006-’07 Toyota AMA Arenacross Series title chase, running the TUF Racing Hondas in the AMA Arenacross class.
Live Nation caught up with Buckelew in the pits at a recent race to get his feelings on the Toyota AMA Arenacross Series season thus far.
Live Nation: Talk a bit about your arenacross racing career, Justin.
Justin Buckelew: “I raced a couple arenacrosses in the past, raced the regional series in Reno (Nev.), and won that a few times. In ’02, when I was on Motoworld/Suzuki, I went and did like three West Coast rounds, had some decent finishes and learned a lot about racing arenacross. Since then I haven’t done too many, so this will be my first full season.”
LN: You bring a West Coast/Albuquerque supercross style to the sport of arenacross. What will be the key areas of your game you’ll need to adapt to in order to succeed?
JB: “As far as adjustment goes, you have a lot less track time here and have to be able to get up to speed right away. (Arenacross) tracks are a bit less technical than supercross. You have to be real aggressive and attack all the sections. So basically the same things that are important in any racing, supercross or motocross. The biggest changes are the quickness of the races and getting up to speed right away.”
LN: You’ve hooked up with a very solid Toyota AMA Arenacross Series program with Dave Antolak’s TUF Racing team. What goals have you set for yourself this year?
JB: “Definitely! I want to try to win main events. That’s the main thing. When the opportunity presents itself I want to be on the podium and win some main events, so that’s my goal.”
LN: After Reno, you guys have some time off. More than a month, to be exact, to when the season starts back up at Charlotte and Grand Rapids (Mich.) on Jan 5-7. What are your plans during that time off to stay sharp?
JB: “Actually I live in Phoenix, so we have a supercross track there. I’d like to get an arenacross track built, something I didn’t get put together prior to the start of this season, although I wanted to. I want to get some more time on the tighter track before we get into the start of the second half of the season.”
LN: Talk about the competition after the first two rounds.
JB: “I think there’s more competition and definitely way more riders than anyone expected. I didn’t expect to see this kind of turnout. Purse money’s pretty good here and I think it’s going to be a lot of fun and the fans are going to see a lot of good racing all season long. The field to me is deeper this year than it has been in the past.”
LN: Tear it up this weekend in Reno.
JB: Hey, thanks.