By: Feld Motorsports
ELLENTON, Fla. (April 5, 2016) þ As expected, tensions were high when AMSOIL Arenacross kicked off the 2016 Race to the Championship this past weekend in southern California. After a pair of intense nights of competition, one rider emerged with the momentum and early control of the season-ending showdown for the Ricky Carmichael Cup. Team Babbitt’s/Monster Energy/AMSOIL Kawasaki’s Chris Blose entered the Race to the Championship as the fourth seed and, following back-to-back overall wins in Ontario, he sits in control of the standings as AMSOIL Arenacross travels up to California’s picturesque central coast for its debut at Salinas Sports Complex on Sunday, April 10.
This weekend’s inaugural visit to Salinas will provide a truly unique and historic setting for AMSOIL Arenacross. Sunny skies will complement the Sunday afternoon start time as Salinas Sports Complex is an open-air venue, providing an exciting break from tradition that is sure to add even more intrigue to the action on the track. The weather conditions and damp, cool air of the central coast will undoubtedly have an impact on the racing surface, which will lend itself to some of the most unpredictable racing of the season. With just one of the five rounds in the Race to the Championship completed, this weekend could present an opportunity for a shakeup in the points.
Blose’s success at the opening round of the Race to the Championship was undoubtedly influenced by his ability to secure victory in each of the RMATV/MC Head 2 Head Challenges, which provided him with a total of four championship bonus points in two nights, two more than anyone else. He also grabbed great starts each time the gate dropped for a race, leading him to 1-2-3-2 finishes in the weekend’s four main events. That consistency is pivotal to success in the Race to the Championship, and thus far Blose has the edge.
The one rider who kept pace with Blose every step of the way in Ontario was none other than his teammate and Race to the Championship top seed Gavin Faith. While Faith saw his three-race winning streak snapped in Ontario, he was even better than Blose out of the gate and posted equally impressive 3-3-1-3 results, finishing second overall each night. If not for Blose’s triumphant efforts in the Head 2 Head Challenge, the Team Babbitt’s duo would be tied atop the points.
As the only two riders to land on the overall podium during both nights of action in Ontario, Blose and Faith have garnered the attention heading into Salinas. While they are expected to continue their strong starts, there is no doubt they’ll be given a stiff challenge from the TiLUBE/TUF Racing Honda duo of Jace Owen and Ben Lamay, as well as the third member of Team Babbitt’s, Jacob Hayes.
Both Owen and Lamay joined Blose and Faith on the overall podium in Ontario, with both riders using the momentum of a main event win to put them on the box. The two veterans of Monster Energy AMA Supercross, an FIM World Championship, have come on strong in the late part of the season and, barring misfortune, should be in the hunt for victory at each round. The same can be said for Hayes, who has more Race to the Championship experience than anyone else in AMSOIL Arenacross. Although he narrowly missed out on podium results in Ontario, Hayes is as fast as he’s been all season and, with better starts out of the gate, it wouldn’t be a surprise to see him alongside his teammates. For TZR/Woodstock KTM’s Travis Sewell, Ontario was filled with frustration and misfortune. Nevertheless, he soldiered home to earn solid finishes and is one of just five riders within 20 points of the lead heading into Salinas.
The on-track drama wasn’t just reserved for the Race to the Championship in Ontario. In the Western Regional Arenacross Lites Class Championship there was a change atop the point standings and after two nights of racing, and three riders have solidified themselves as title contenders. Team DirtBike Mike/KTM Sports Center of Little Rock rider Ben Nelko entered the weekend as the championship leader, but a season-worst sixth-place finish on Saturday cost him valuable points and allowed TZR/Woodstock KTM’s Cody VanBuskirk to seize control of the points. While VanBuskirk didn’t win in Ontario, he put himself on the podium both nights and, as a result, will carry a one-point lead into Salinas. Shawnee Motor Company/Justified Cultures KTM’s Cheyenne Harmon broke through for his first career win in Ontario, and his 1-2 finishes over the weekend vaulted him to within nine points of the lead with four rounds remaining. The battle for the championship among these budding young stars is just getting started.
The highly anticipated second round of AMSOIL Arenacross’ Race to the Championship from Salinas Sports Complex will kick off at 2 p.m. PT/5 p.m. ET on Sunday, April 10.