Johnson earned the #3 plate last year on a Shogun Yamaha behind #1 Darcy Lange (who’s racing supercross this season) and #2 Jeff Northrop (now on a Honda) but was without a ride as the season approached. He wanted to be ready anyway and had been working with tuner Junior Jackson for weeks before they even knew what brand bike he would race. The strategy paid off. With two weeks to go before Albany, a deal with Yamaha came together and he showed up more than ready, sweeping the weekend’s premier AMA Arenacross class.
With some of the season regulars moving over to the BooKoo Arenacross Series, which starts next weekend, not everyone was there. New names showed up as well, and as usual in arenacross, there were some new teams (or maybe new names for old teams). The biggest new names are Greg Schnell, racing for Rockstar/American Suzuki, and Brock Sellards, for Cernic’s/Tuf/Parts Unlimited. Schnell still was banged up from crashing out of the U.S. Open but toughed it out. Sellards is teamed up with Northrop, and Brock made the podium both nights. Also making the podium both nights was John Dowd.
On Friday, the first holeshot went to Ohio’s Zach Ames, but the first turn went into a whoop section and his front end took a dive at the end of it, handing the lead over to Chad Johnson and Northrop. Johnson led every lap and won. Northrop got turned around in the whoops and ended up way back. Dowd was second and Sellards was third, even though he was slowed for a couple of laps by a Tuf Block cover that was hanging from his bike. Schnell was fourth, Neese fifth.
Ames again took the holeshot in the main. He was passed by Sellards right away, then Dowd and Chad Johnson, but no one else. Sellards led a few laps, but Johnson made time on him in the whoops and, after a couple of tries, made a pass that stuck. Johnson won again, with Sellards second. (Brock later seemed pretty happy about making the switch to this series, and he mentioned on the podium that he wasn’t used to racing that close.) Dowd was third and Ames held onto fourth, his best finish in the big-bike class.