AURORA, Ill. – As the 2009 AMA Arenacross Series closes down to a pair of races, the thousands in attendance at Wilkes Barre, Pa.’s Wachovia Arena on Saturday night were treated to the characteristically tight racing of Arenacross. A 25-lap main event featured battles throughout the track as Triple Effect Kawasaki’s Gray Davenport, of Lehi, Utah, fended off all challengers to take his second win of the season. In the final race of the AMA Arenacross Lites Eastern Regional Championship, veteran rider Jim Neese, of Julian, N.C., outlasted his younger opponents to garner the victory aboard his Foremost Insurance Suzuki.
Like in so many of the races this season, the start was a key factor in how the race played out. Davenport capitalized on his opportunity and put together 25 solid laps of riding to fend off Monster Energy Team Green Kawasaki’s Michael Willard, of Thornville, Ohio, who put in his best effort of the season. Current points leader Jeff Gibson, of Westerville, Ohio, brought home a valuable third place finish to close in on his first AMA Arenacross Series title for Mahindra Tractors/Tuf Honda. His closest competitor in the standings, Triple Effect Kawasaki’s Brock Sellards, of Sherodsville, Ohio, finished fourth, minimizing Gibson’s advantage and forcing the championship to be decided in its final weekend.
“It really helped to get a good start tonight,” said Davenport. “It put me up front and then it was up to me to put together solid laps throughout the main (event). Those guys were definitely behind me, but I was able to hold them off. I’d really like to thank Triple Effect Kawasaki for all their hard work.”
One night after winning his first race of the AMA Arenacross Lites Eastern Regional Championship, Spinechillers/Suzuki City’s Willy Browning, of Rushville, Ohio, was forced to sit out Saturday’s final race. The regional’s points leader also stands 10th in the premier class standings which by series rule, forces him to not compete in the AMA Arenacross Lites class. With a 20-point lead in hand, Browning left his championship fate to the racing gods. A trio of riders held a chance at claiming the title on Saturday; Justin Berry, of Edmond, Okla., Matt Cottrill, of Chillicothe, Ohio, and Chad Wages, of Frederick, Md. As the gates dropped, Cottrill established himself as a possible threat, but in the end he could only collect a fourth-place finish for CHP Motorsports Yamaha. As Neese rode away to the win, Team Faith Yamaha’s Kevin Johnson, of Albuquerque, N.M., and GPF/Babbitt’s Kawasaki’s Tyler Medaglia, of Ottawa, Canada, followed in second and third, respectively. Despite not being on the track for the race, Browning earned his first AMA Arenacross Lites title by four points over Cottrill.
Gibson extended his points lead in the premier AMA Arenacross class to 48 points over Sellards with one round and two races remaining, putting him in firm control of his own destiny. Sellards holds a comfortable 10-point advantage over reigning series champion Chad Johnson, of Rhinelander, Wis., in third.
A champion will be crowned as the 2009 AMA Arenacross Series season concludes next weekend from the Bank of Kentucky Center in Highland Heights, Ky. The action begins on Friday followed by the series’ conclusion on Saturday. Both nights kick-off at 7 p.m.
AMA Arenacross Class Results (Wilkes Barre, Pa.) 1. Gray Davenport, Lehi, Utah, Kawasaki
2. Michael Willard, Thornville, Ohio, Kawasaki
3. Jeff Gibson, Westerville, Ohio, Honda
4. Brock Sellards, Sherodsville, Ohio, Kawasaki
5. Keith Johnson, Albuquerque, N.M, Yamaha
6. Chad Johnson, Rhinelander, Wis., Kawasaki
7. Codi Adams, Batavia, Ohio, Kawasaki
8. Jim Neese, Julian, N.C., Suzuki
9. Willy Browning, Rushville, Ohio, Suzuki
10. Tyler Medaglia, Ottawa, Canada, Kawasaki
AMA Arenacross Class Lites Results (Wilkes Barre, Pa.) 1. Jim Neese, Julian, N.C, Suzuki
2. Kevin Johnson, Albuquerque, N.M., Yamaha
3. Tyler Medaglia, Ottawa, Canada, Kawasaki
4. Matt Cottrill, Chillicothe, Ohio, Yamaha
5. Kyle Brown, Lake Odessa, Mich., Kawasaki
6. Dave Ginolfi, Lake Hopatlong, N.J., Suzuki
7. Devon Pilkington, Virginia Beach, Va., Yamaha
8. Ronnie Stewart, Easton, Pa., Suzuki
9. Dacoda Sarochuk, Randolph, Utah, Kawasaki
10. Justin Berry, Edmond, Okla., Kawasaki
AMA Arenacross Class Points (After Race 15 of 17) 1. Jeff Gibson, Westerville, Ohio, Honda – 303
2. Brock Sellards, Sherodsville, Ohio, Kawasaki – 255
3. Chad Johnson, Rhinelander, Wis., Kawasaki – 245
4. Nathan Skaggs, Chillicothe, Ohio, Honda – 238
5. Josh Demuth, North Richland Hills, Texas, Honda – 229
6. Gray Davenport, Lehi, Utah, Kawasaki – 220
7. Michael Willard, Thornville, Ohio, Kawasaki – 197
8. Codi Adams, Batavia, Ohio, Kawasaki – 172
9. Keith Johnson, Albuquerque, N.M, Yamaha – 158
10, Willy Browning, Rushville, Ohio, Suzuki – 128