ELLENTON, Fla. - After nine rounds of competition, AMSOIL Arenacross has reached arguably the most anticipated juncture of the 2016 season with the Race to the Championship. With five overall winners and six Main Event victors this season the competition has been at an all-time high. As the final five rounds of the season kick off in Ontario, California, on April 1. The top 10 riders are only separated by six points in the Arenacross Class and are poised for the most intense title fight in series history. The prestigious Ricky Carmichael Cup awaits the rider that lands on top of the championship points standings at the final round in Las Vegas on May 6.
Race to the Championship Standings
1. Gavin Faith, Fort Dodge, Iowa, Kawasaki - 6 (6 Main Event Wins)
2. Travis Sewell, Westville, Ind., KTM - 5 (5 Main Event Wins)
3. Jacob Hayes, Liberty, N.C., Kawasaki - 4 (8 Main Event Wins)
4. Chris Blose, Phoenix, Kawasaki - 4 (2 Main Event Wins)
5. Ben Lamay, Forney, Texas, Honda - 3 (1 Main Event Win)
6. Jace Owen, Matoon, Ill., Honda - 3
7. Gared Steinke, Woodland, Calif., Husqvarna - 2
8. Kyle Regal, Lake Elsinore, Calif., Husqvarna - 2
9. Daniel Herrlein, Bethesda, Ohio, Honda - 1
10. Cody VanBuskirk, Harvard, Ill., KTM - 1
While Rockstar Energy Drink Husqvarna Factory Racing presented by FMC and OTSFF rider Kyle Regal overcame missing a handful of races to secure his spot in the Race to the Championship last weekend in Lafayette, Louisiana, his title defense will be met with a stiff challenge from several riders who appear poised to take away the number one plate. Leading the way for the group of hopefuls is Team Babbitt's/Monster Energy/AMSOIL Kawasaki's Gavin Faith, the top seed in the Race to the Championship. Faith's first season with AMSOIL Arenacross' most successful team has proved to be a breakthrough year for the Iowa native. He brings a series-leading five overall wins into the playoff, highlighted by a three-race winning streak, and will look to use his experience of finishing third in last season's championship to carry the momentum to a potential first career title.
In addition to Faith, Team Babbitt's remaining duo of Jacob Hayes and Chris Blose will also enter the Race to the Championship as part of the group of favorites to emerge with the Ricky Carmichael Cup. Hayes and Blose are veteran racers who know how to win and Hayes occupied the top of the point standings for most of the season until a practice crash forced him to miss one round of action. As the third and fourth seeds, respectively, Hayes and Blose will enter the first round of the Race to the Championship from Ontario, California's Citizens Business Bank Arena just two points behind their teammate. Hayes walked away with a bittersweet runner-up finish in the championship one year ago and no doubt will look to avenge that, while Blose's quietly consistent season thus far has him entering Ontario a little bit under the radar compared to his fellow front runners.
Sandwiched between the Team Babbitt's trio is TZR/Woodstock KTM's Travis Sewell, the breakout rider of the 2016 season. The Indiana rider has been nipping at the heels of his rivals every step of the way this season, compiling an exceptionally consistent campaign that has resulted in five Main Event wins and the first overall win of his career. Just last weekend Sewell missed out on his second overall win via tiebreaker and while he hasn't necessarily been flashy en route to securing the second seed in the Race to the Championship, he could be one of the most dangerous riders in the playoff given his penchant for running at the front of the field.
Despite a bit of a late start to the season, the TiLUBE/Tuf Racing Honda duo of Ben Lamay and Jace Owen, both competing in their first full season of AMSOIL Arenacross, acclimated quickly and has made there presence felt throughout the championship. While the pair may not have as much experience as their fellow competitors, and will both be participating in their first Race to the Championship, they have shown improvement each week, with Lamay enjoying his first Main Event win last weekend. Tuf Racing's championship pedigree could prove to be beneficial for both riders as they chase the title.
Gared Steinke finished the 2015 season as one of the hottest riders in the championship, capping things off with his first career overall win in Las Vegas. He brought that momentum into 2016 as Regal's Rockstar Energy Drink Husqvarna Factory Racing teammate but a recent injury has left him on the mend in preparation for the Race to the Championship. Steinke has the speed to win, and both he and Regal will look to work together to find early success and move up the standings from their seventh and eighth seeds.
Rounding out the Race to the Championship field is A&Y Racing Honda's Daniel Herrlein, who already has a championship to his credit this season by clinching the Eastern Regional Arencross Lites Class title, and TZR/Woodstock KTM's Cody VanBuskirk. As a teammate to Sewell, VanBuskirk has nothing to lose in the Race to the Championship and the young rider has really come on strong in recent weeks. Look for VanBuskirk to take advantage of being in the thick of the title hunt for the Western Regional Arenacross Lites Class as leverage to also turn some heads in the premier class.
The opening round of the Race to the Championship will take place in the hotbed of Southern California, the heart of the racing industry, from Ontario's Citizen's Business Bank Arena with two nights of action on Friday, April 1, and Saturday, April 2. Racing for both nights will begin at 7 p.m. PT / 10 p.m. ET.