AURORA, Ill. (Jan. 17, 2008) – In case you haven’t noticed, the Monster/Babbitt’s/Kawasaki boys have taken a HUGE bite out of Bad Boy/TUF/Honda Chad Johnson’s Toyota AMA Arenacross Series lead. What once stood at 13 points heading into the holiday break has been whittled down to eight points – despite Johnson going 2-1 last weekend in Baltimore (Md.).
Scoring his first career Toyota AMA Arenacross Series win this past Friday in Baltimore was Kelly Smith (Monster/Babbitt’s/Kawasaki). In doing so, Smith actually cooled off his teammate Brock Sellards, who was the hottest racer heading into last weekend. But Smith’s win was answered right back with a win from Chad Johnson on Saturday – a couple of the Toyota AMA Arenacross Series’ two main heavyweight contenders trading blows. Wobbling a bit in the racing action, Sellards still managed to keep things close with a podium (3rd) on Friday.
Toyota AMA Arenacross Series announcer Tim Cotter said: “This season is shaping up just like the one we had in 2005-’06 when Chad Johnson and Brock Sellards took it right down to the last moto of the last night in Nashville. Except now we’ve got a three horse race going with the addition of Kelly Smith.”
Another top rider who could be in the mix is Teddy Maier. “Teddy’s the one to keep an eye on,” according to a number of high-ranking Toyota AMA Arenacross Series team owners. There could be a four-horse race in the Toyota AMA Arenacross Series come March.
If you’re planning on attending the Albuquerque (N.M.) Toyota AMA Arenacross Series race this Saturday, be sure to check out the action at Bobby J’s Yamaha on Friday (Jan. 18th). r Albuquerque stars Keith and Kevin Johnson will be signing autographs and the Team Faith/Air Force Freestyle team will be performing their freestyle demo.. You can also pick up you Saturday Toyota AMA Arenacross Series race tickets there, and at www.arenacross.com in case they run out! For more info on the event at Bobby J’s, link to: www.bjsyamaha.com.
Both the Albuquerque Journal and the Dayton Daily News are doing sizable advance feature stories on the local racers this weekend - Kevin and Keith Johnson (Albuquerque) and Brock Sellards (Dayton). “It’s always nice to see local racers in the top ten in the Toyota AMA Arenacross Series standings roll into their hometown races,” said Jayme Dalsing, director of arenacross, Live Nation Motor Sports, Inc. “It definitely adds more hype to the races, which have been putting up some very good attendance figures as of late.”
We all know Toyota’s always “Moving Forward,” but for one sec here let’s put that cool Tacoma 4x4 into reverse and back up to last weekend’s Toyota AMA Arenacross Series round in Baltimore. From all accounts it was one of the best races on the world’s top arenacross circuit in some time. Said Cotter: “The Baltimore racing was as good as I’ve seen in some time – brought me back to the days of Buddy Antunez and Denny Stephenson.” Added: Monster/Babbitt’s/Kawasaki’s Denny Bartz: “I’ve been around the sport for 12 years and that’s the best racing I’ve seen.” Baltimore’s 1st Mariner Arena was PACKED on Saturday and through the weekend 26,000-plus fans attended the race.
In fact, the new 250F displacement rule and increased laps (20 to 25 in the main event) have made for some incredible racing at most of, if not all the Toyota AMA Arenacross Series rounds. “I was talking to Dave Antolak (Bad Boy/TUF/Honda) last week and we both agreed that we’re seeing end-of-the-season races at the midway point of the season,” said the AMA’s Harv Whipple, head official for the Toyota AMA Arenacross Series. “If you’re anywhere close to a Toyota AMA Arenacross Series round, I’m telling you to pull out all the stops to check it out. These have been some of the best races I’ve seen in a long, long time.”
Speaking with Harv, the question came up if anybody had been caught trying to take advantage of the displacement rule by messing with their engines. Said Whipple: “There was a lot of talk about bikes ‘not being a 250’ early on in the season. But the AMA took a strong stand and impounded numerous bikes at random throughout the early season races, tore them down and every one met the required measurements.” Whipple added that some of the larger teams actually thanked him for tearing them down, quashing any rumors that may have been flying around of teams running ‘hot’ bikes.
Finally, fan-favorite and defending 2006-’07 Toyota AMA Arenacross Series champion Danny Smith (Bad Boy/TUF/Honda) has had a tough go of it so far this year. Plain and simple, according to Antolak, Smith’s just run into some flat out bad luck. “Danny’s riding real well,” said Antolak. “He’s bummed about his results, but we’re not bummed about him. You need some luck in racing and this has just not been his year.” Antolak added that Smith’s importance to the Bad Boy/TUF/Honda’s Toyota AMA Arenacross Series championship quest will become more evident as the season continues – even though he doesn’t appear to be in the hunt to defend his title.
2007-’08 Toyota AMA Arenacross Class Point Standings
2. Kelly Smith, Kaw, 202
3. Brock Sellards, Kaw, 194
4. Teddy Maier, Hon, 177
5. Keith Johnson, Yam, 163 (
6. Kevin Johnson, Yam, 163 (
7. Danny Smith, Hon, 149
8. Jim Neese, Suz, 135
9. Josh Demuth, Hon, 127
10. Tom Hofmaster, 126