AURORA, Ill. (March 13, 2008) – The entire 19 round, coast-to-coast racing action of the 2007-’08 Toyota AMA Arenacross Series comes down to two main events in Green Bay (Wis.) this weekend, March 14-15, with a brand new Toyota Tacoma 4x4 truck on the line, along with the prestigious Toyota AMA Arenacross Series’ No. 1 plate.
The math is pretty simple on this one. Wisconsin’s own Chad Johnson (Bad Boy/TUF/Honda) enters the final round of the 2007-’08 Toyota AMA Arenacross Series with a commanding 30-point (428-398) lead in the championship points chase over Monster/Babbitt’s/Kawasaki’s Kelly Smith. With 50 points on the line it’s conceivable, though not highly likely, that Smith could wind up with the title. But for Johnson all that really has to happen – as he’ll state in a candid feature story tomorrow – is to stay out of trouble in the start and ride a smooth race.
Said Johnson earlier in the week: “I can’t think of a better situation – having the points lead and the support of my home state fans. There’s a lot at stake and I know the competition’s going to be fierce, but the Bad Boy/TUF/Honda team has put together a great season of racing and we’re confident we can meet our goal of winning the title at the Resch Center.”
It wasn’t but a month ago the scope of the championship would be considerably tighter than it is heading into the last round. Smith had just swept the Hampton (Va.) Toyota AMA Arenacross Series rounds and had cut Johnson’s overall points lead to 316-307, a mere nine points. At the next round, at the Eastern Kentucky Expo Center in Pikeville, Johnson stepped up – with all of the series racers in town – and delivered what many believe to be the knockout blow of the 2007-’08 Toyota AMA Arenacross Series when he went 1-1 and would build a 33-point lead before the series’ penultimate round in Denver (Feb. 29-March 1).
AMA official Harv Whipple on this weekend’s contest: “Now that the Toyota AMA Arenacross Series extends into March - with three more rounds than it’s had in previous years - it still comes down to the final weekend. That just shows you the depth of the competition in this series. The only difference is that Chad could walk away with a new truck and an AMA # 1 plate on Friday instead of Saturday. He needs to have 26 points on Kelly after the main event on Friday & it's all his. Anything can happen though, after all this is arenacross. I would be happy with either as the new Toyota AMA Arenacross Series champion. They both deserve it.”
One racer that was expected to be in the points chase, but just didn’t arrive there for a number of reasons, was last year’s Toyota AMA Arenacross Series’ runner-up, Robbie Reynard. Reynard’s going out on a limb with regards to Green Bay: “I am going to win both nights in Green Bay,” said Reynard. “I need to leave the season with at least two wins. So hopefully we will finish off the season strong. I wasn't 100% coming into this season, and never really got back to 100%. The change to the smaller bikes was definitely a challenge for me. I was riding the 250 like it was a 450 and you can't do that! I have learned from mistakes and it has still been a fun season! We have an incredible team and I can't thank everyone enough for their help Rockstar Suzuki, Reynard Mods, No Fear and everyone for being so supportive! We will be back next year.”
Live Nation’s Robert Hansen: “Well, it's not too many days till we crown another Toyota AMA Arenacross Series champion. Chad Johnson is in the drivers seat, but look farther down the points line and you see the name Teddy Maier seated in fourth. Teddy's management played the points game, flying him to alternate event weekends to gather as many points as possible. But that is what makes the Toyota AMA Arenacross Series unlike any other racing series in the country. There are options and if you play the game according to the rules you can gain points were you can't in other series, I was always told choices are good and in Teddy's case it will turn into cash. The points fund is worth $100,000 and every position in the final top ten means money. Look further down the points line and you see more Johnsons - Kevin and Keith - and they fully realize a move of one position can mean a bonus in the series by way of cash payout. Look at the race with in the series, every point gained this week in Green Bay will mean cash to the top ten riders plus a little more bargaining power for the rider and his goal to get on a championship team next season.”
For the Monster/Babbitt’s/Kawasaki team putting two guys in the top three made for a pretty excellent year, according to team manager Denny Bartz who said: “We may not have the championship but what we’ve got is good.” Smith and Sellards – who’ll be joined by a special TBA guest star - are now moving on with the Monster/Babbitt’s/Kawasaki team to contest the remainder of the AMA Supercross class events for Monster Energy® Supercross.
Another racer you’ll likely see back contesting some Monster Energy® Supercross rounds is Bobby J’s/Yamaha’s Keith Johnson. Johnson took a second to reflect on his 2007-’08 Toyota AMA Arenacross Series season: “The arenacross season has kind of been a roller coaster. They say anything can happen in AX and it's true. I didn't know what to expect coming in on 250f's instead of the 450 where I feel most comfortable. Then I hurt my knee and started things off slow. By January my body was where it needed to be and I started getting podiums every weekend and I would be disappointed in myself if I didn't. Then it took a dip again and I had some bad races until last weekend at Denver. Other than the first turn crash on Saturday it was a good weekend. I feel good and expect to finish out the series with podiums on both nights.”
The final Media Day of the 2007-’08 Toyota AMA Arenacross Series is scheduled for Friday, March 14, from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. at the Resch Center. Tickets for this weekend’s event area available at the Resch Center Box Office, or online at: www.arenacross.com, www.ticketstaronline.com, www.pmiwi.com
2007-’08 AMA Arenacross Class Point Standings
2. Kelly Smith, Kaw, 398
3. Brock Sellards, Kaw, 372
4. Teddy Maier, Hon, 342
5. Kevin Johnson, Yam, 333
6. Keith Johnson, Yam, 319
7. Tom Hofmaster, Yam, 267
8. Jim Neese, Suz, 259
9. Gray Davenport, Kaw, 240
10. Robbie Reynard, Suz, 222
Advance tickets for the March 14-16 Toyota AMA Arenacross Series round at Green Bay’s Resch Center are available through www.arenacross.com, at the Resch Center Box Office, www.ticketstaronline.com, www.pmiwi.com, at the Oneida Casino or call (800) 895-0071 or (920) 494-3401. Show times are Friday and Saturday, 7:30 p.m. and Sunday (amateurs) at 12:00. Doors open Friday and Saturday at 6:30 p.m., Sunday at 11 a.m.. Friday, Saturday and Sunday advance tickets are $20 (all seats), $7 for kids ages 2-12. All seats $2 more day of show.
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