AURORA, Ill., (Feb. 1, 2007) – With defending Toyota AMA Arenacross Series champion Chad Johnson on the sidelines for the remainder of the season, the racing action’s been so close in the AMA Arenacross class that any one of a number of riders have a shot at stepping in and challenging TUF Racing/Honda’s Danny Smith for the overall title.
Three races remain on the series schedule – Springfield (Ill.), Saginaw (Mich.) or Wheeling (W.Va.) and the Toyota AMA Arenacross Series finals in Nashville (Tenn.).
As Smith has been saying since the season started, the series is going to come down to the last race of the last night at Nashville’s Municipal Auditorium. Robbie Reynard (Reynard Modifications/Honda) is on fire. He swept both AMA Arenacross class main events in Denver and pulled within 18 points of Smith. Back another 20 or so points – which amounts to a one-race DNF for Reynard – is Keith Johnson (Bobby J’s/Yamaha), Brock Sellards (TUF Racing/Honda, last year’s runner up to Chad Johnson) and Kevin Johnson (Team Faith/Yamaha). And all three of those racers have multiple wins on the season.
So, with the defending champion on the sidelines signing autographs this weekend in Springfield, here’s how the overall points shake down with three rounds remaining in the series:
Danny Smith (2)
Robbie Reynard (6)
Chad Johnson (2)
Keith Johnson (2)
Brock Sellards (4)
Kevin Johnson (2)
Jim Neese (1)
Says Director of Arenacross, Robert Hansen: “The No. 17 War Horse Robbie Reynard is at full strength. The one thing that happened out of Denver is confidence for Reynard. The combination of Robbie’s weight and the 450 power is a perfect combo that equals holeshots. It’s time for TUF Racing’s Danny Smith to take notice and get on that podium each week. With Brock Sellards and Jimmy Neese in town for Springfield, there can be lots of points gained or lost depending on what side of the fence you stand – especially since Chad is on the sideline. This one’s going to be decided at Music City (Nashville).”
Springfield’s track design will be unique this weekend. “The arena’s perfectly square, so there won’t be any long straight away sections,” said track builder Rigg Hipps. “This will make for a tighter than normal track that what the guys are used to – which will no doubt make for a lot more banging.”
Toyota AMA Arenacross race referee Harv Whipple, who’ll keep a close eye on that “banging,” is this week’s featured interview on the series’ website. To check out the interesting insight Whipple has to offer on the series, link to www.arenacross.com.
Junior Jackson’s team also has another racer on the sideline. Newly acquired Jimmy Albertson (No. 702) injured his arm two weeks ago while practicing and according to team reports is now in South Carolina at Dr. Medsker’s undergoing some intense therapy to heal his arm. Team officials are hopeful that Albertson will be back for the Saginaw (Mich.) round, but stressed they want to make sure he’s completely healed before he returns.
Team Babbittsonline.com’s Ray Woods, father of Amp’d Mobile AMA Supercross podium finisher Josh Woods, checked in with this note from last weekend’s Louisville (Ky.) round of Toyota AMA Arenacross Series: “Friday started well for the team and the Louisville track was very good. The venue was large enough to have an extra lane so the start line straight was only used for the start which kept the rider on their toes as there was never a place to rest. In the Lites class local Michigan rider Nick Vaughn (who is also supported by Babbittsonline.com) pitted with the team for the weekend and was a welcome addition to the program. Along with Vaughn the team’s other Lites riders Shane Sewell, Dave Ginolfi, and Jay Vellatico the team claimed 4 of 15 spots for the main. Impressive as there was only one other Kawasaki in the main event. Although no one was able to claim a podium position and a few minor crashes set a few riders back all the riders finished the main in positions tenth, 12th, 13th and 14th.” Check out the Babbittsonline.com/Kawasaki team this weekend in Springfield.
How many kids can you put into the bed of a Toyota Tacoma truck? According to Miss Arenacross Ashley Phillips the answer is 48! “Toyota’s Mark Carter was in the house so we had to set a new record,” said Phillips. Once packed into the Toyota Tacoma – which could have easily handled another 48 kids if it was safe to stack ‘em that high - the kids all sang “The wheels of a Toyota go round and round, round and round, round and round.” It was quite the sight.
Overseen in the Denver pits: The Denver altitude was wreaking havoc on some of the bike set up. Before he got hurt on Saturday, Chad Johnson was having all kinds of issues getting prepared for Friday’s main event. In the pits helping, along with Junior Jackson was rival Kevin Johnson – spinning T-wrenches and doing whatever he could to get Chad ready for the main!
Quote of the week: “I’ll tell you what, Robbie’s dad deserves the game ball for this weekend,” said Toyota AMA Arenacross Series announcer Tim Cotter. “As a team they knew what had to be done and got it done. It’s got to be one of the highlights of Mr. Reynard’s racing career.”
The ‘official’ note on Chad Johnson: Junior Jackson Racing/Suzuki team manager Lizabeth Cartwright: “During this past weekend's event in Denver, Chad Johnson (#1), Junior Jackson Racing Suzuki rider sustained another impact to his already severely injured groin muscle for the 3rd weekend in a row. The team feels that the best decision right now is to focus on healing Chad so that he can be ready to ride Amp’d Mobile AMA Supercross. Chad will however continue to promote the Toyota AMA Arenacross Series, his team and the teams sponsors during his recovery.”
For more information regarding the racing coming to Springfield, Ill., this weekend, the current series’ point standings and results, or the latest news on the series are all available at www.arenacross.com.