AURORA, Ill. – For the first four rounds of the 2009 AMA Arenacross Series season, Mahindra Tractors/Tuf Honda’s Jeff Gibson was virtually invincible. Posting podium finishes in all of the seven races to that point, including four wins in a row, it appeared as though lady luck was on his side and in no hurry to leave. Despite his outstanding efforts, including two wins of his own in those seven races, Spinechillers/Storm Lake Honda’s Nathan Skaggs could not keep up with the unbelievable pace Gibson was setting.
However, as the series made its annual stop in Greensboro, N.C., the tides began to turn. For the past two weeks, a shift has been in effect and it has not benefited Gibson, who appeared to be in full control of his own destiny. While leading on the final lap of the main event in Greensboro, the Ohio native found himself on the ground with just a couple corners remaining after coming together with reigning series champion Chad Johnson. Gibson would remount and salvage seventh place, but missed out on win number five for the season as well as his eighth-straight podium.
While Johnson went on to win his first race for Babbitt’s Monster Energy Kawasaki and solidify himself in third place in the season standings, Skaggs followed in second and gained points on Gibson for the first time since round two in Baltimore, Md.
As the series made its debut in Tulsa, Okla. last weekend, the tension was mounting as the once indomitable Gibson showed the first signs of vulnerability. While his points lead was strong and his hold on first place was secure, Gibson finally experienced the unpredictability of the AMA Arenacross Series. On several occasions he has been quoted as saying “anything can happen,” and for the first time he was proven right. After all, this is AMA Arenacross Series racing.
Looking to rebound and perhaps take back what was rightfully his from Johnson, Gibson exploded out of the gate in Tulsa only to find himself on the ground yet again. Despite one of the most valiant rides of the season, Gibson could only muster an 11th-place finish while Skaggs grabbed win number three. With the beginning stages of what could only spell disaster for Gibson, “anything” is indeed happening.
“(Jeff) has had a couple bad races,” said Skaggs, a fellow Ohio native. “I’ve been racing well enough to capitalize on it that last couple weeks with a second and a first. I just need to keep going out there and race my race. I’m not worrying about points. I can only take care of what is in my control.”
While the points differential between Gibson and Skaggs is still at a significant 24-point margin, each rider has shown signs of weakness and has experienced the misfortune that can come with the bar-banging, intimate action of the AMA Arenacross Series. However, to this point in the season both riders have shown they are the ones to beat on a consistent basis, owning seven of the nine overall victories. Lurking in third place is Johnson, 37 points behind. Winner of two of the last three series titles, if anyone knows how to make a late season charge and shake-up the standings it’s Johnson.
For the second week in a row, the AMA Arenacross Series enters a new venue for the sport for round eight in Fresno, Calif. The Save Mart Center is located on the campus of Fresno State University, which boasts an enrollment of over 20,000 students.
The 12,363-seat multi-purpose arena opened on November 27, 2003 as the primary home for the Fresno State Bulldogs basketball program and the ECHL’s Fresno Falcons hockey team (2003-2008). It features an exterior landmark known as the Larry A. Shehadey Clock Tower that is named for the founder of Fresno-based dairy company Producers Dairy Foods. The site also features the Bulldog Walkway, an on-campus tribute to Fresno State alumni and friends. Save Mart Supermarkets holds 20-year naming rights to the facility.
The Save Mart Center has played host to numerous concerts, NBA Pre-Season games, NHL Pre-Season games, and even several professional wrestling events. However, for the first time the smell and high-octane anticipation of AMA Arenacross Series action will fill the walls for a memorable night of bar-to-bar racing.
The first gates drop on the Fresno Arenacross on Saturday at 7:30 p.m. Amateur Day concludes an exciting weekend of action on Sunday, beginning at 10 a.m.
Gold Circle level seats are just $25, while Mid Level seats are only $18 for adults and $5 for kids. All seats are $2 more on the day of the show.
About Feld Motor Sports
Feld Motor Sports, Inc. is the world leader in specialized arena and stadium-based motor sports entertainment. Feld Motor Sports, Inc. productions include Monster Jam®, Monster Energy® Supercross, AMA Arenacross Series, Freestyle Motocross, and IHRA® Nitro Jam®. Feld Motor Sports, Inc. is a division of Feld Entertainment, the world’s largest producer of live family entertainment. For more information on Feld Entertainment, visit www.feldentertainment.com.