AURORA, Ill., (Feb. 21, 2007) – Try as they may, nobody was going to get in the way of TUF Racing/Cernic’s/Honda’s Danny Smith in his quest for the 2006-’07 Toyota AMA Arenacross Series championship.
Smith, who has been a contender for Amp’d Mobile AMA Supercross Series Lites class titles in the past, won his first-ever major professional motocross title this past Saturday night in Nashville’s (Tenn.) Municipal Auditorium, capping off his first full season on the Toyota AMA Arenacross Series on a high note.
“I’ve been racing a long time and just to win that No. 1 plate means an awful lot,” said Smith. “I’m totally stoked right now for Dave Antolak and the entire TUF Racing team as well. Last year they lost the title by one point on the last night with Brock (Sellards), so to come back and win this for Dave is great.” Note: Not only did Smith win the overall title, but TUF Racing was awarded the overall ‘Best Team’ trophy at the season-ending banquet.
Smith was quick to point out that throughout the 10 weekends – 20 nights of racing – his Tracin’ Sing-tuned Honda CRF450R never suffered one mechanical failure. “Which is huge,” added Smith.
Another key to Smith’s championship was the fact he lived in California during the season and was able to train much like he would for supercross. Smith, who hails from Idaho, said that the constant practicing would be paramount to his success.
“It was a lot of work flying back and forth to the races from California every week, but all that hard work paid off,” said Smith. “And even if I got beat I was just able to move on to the next race. You can’t lose your head out there or it will cost you.”
Smith continued: “We had 10 different winners this year. That’s insane. Every time I’d line up, I’d look down the starting gate and there were at least four to five guys lined up beside me that had won races this year. And I was hoping I’d have won more, but with (Robbie) Reynard, the Johnsons and Brock – the talent level was unreal.”
As for his goal heading into Nashville, Smith hoped to have a 15-point lead heading into Saturday. He met that goal by finishing fourth on Friday, two spots behind Reynard and carried an exact 15-point lead into Saturday’s contest (372-357).
“I hoped to have that margin because a lot of weird stuff can happen in arenacross – and did on Saturday night,” said Smith.
With the opening night jitters behind him, and a comfortable margin of points between he and Reynard, Smith got out of the gate well on Saturday and into second place behind Kevin Johnson. Reynard then got by Smith with little resistance and Smith settled into third. That’s when a series of events took place that, well, Smith says you’ll just have to watch on the SPEED Channel and formulate your own opinion.
“I was pretty much in third the whole moto when all the crap started happening,” said Smith. “But all that matters now is that I was able to win the title and the new truck.”
As for defending that Toyota AMA Arenacross Series title next year, Smith said that he doesn’t have a contract yet with TUF Racing, but added “It’s looking good and I don’t see why we won’t work things out.”
And for the brand new Toyota Tacoma 4x4 pick up? “I think I’ll go with a red one,” said Smith. “I’m pumped. Those are such great trucks. It’ll last forever.”
This weekend the Toyota AMA Arenacross Series wraps up with its Eastern Lites championship round in Wilkes-Barre, Pa. For more information catch the action in this down-to-the-wire title chase, the current series’ point standings and results, or the latest news on the series are all available at www.arenacross.com.