By: Feld Motorsports
The battle for the 2017 title officially got underway on Saturday night as AMSOIL Arenacross’ Race to the Ricky Carmichael Cup kicked off inside Moda Center. Capitalizing on his championship-winning experience from a season ago, Team Babbitt’s/Monster Energy/AMSOIL Kawasaki’s Gavin Faith made the first statement of the playoff-style title fight by taking a crucial overall victory in the opening round. In the Western Regional AX Lites Class DrivenMX Racing KTM’s Jared Lesher took his first win of the season in an eventful main event that helped vault him to the top of the championship standings.
The fight to earn every championship point available in the Race to the Ricky Carmichael Cup kicked off with the RMATV/MC Head 2 Head Challenge prior to the 250AX class main events. In a hotly contested final pairing, Faith edged out championship rival Jace Owen and his TiLUBE/Jack Link’s/TUF Racing Honda for a crucial extra bonus point in the Race to the Ricky Carmichael Cup. The win would prove to pay big dividends for Faith at the end of the night.
When the first of two 250AX class main events roared out of the gate, Owen put his Honda into the early lead ahead of Faith and Rockstar Energy/OTSFF/Yamaha, in association with Cycle Trader and Rock River, rider Chris Blose. The lead trio settled into their respective positions and began laying down similar lap times, ultimately pulling away from the rest of the field.
Owen and Faith traded quicker lap times, keeping the distance between them right around a second for virtually the entire 15-lap main event. Blose kept pace as well, keeping both Owen and Faith in his sights throughout.
The Race to the Ricky Carmichael Cup’s top seed, Owen, controlled the main event until the final lap when he lost his rhythm entering the whoops, which ultimately slowed his momentum enough to allow Faith to surge past and steal the win by just over a half second. Blose followed with a strong third-place finish, with Woodstock KTM’s Daniel Herrlein fourth and Team Babbitt’s rider Travis Sewell in fifth.
After having the first main event win slip away from him on the final lap, Owen came out determined in the second main event, putting his Honda out front ahead of Faith and Herrlein, with Blose in fourth. Owen set a torrid pace in the opening laps to establish a lead of more than a second, while Faith settled into second, knowing the overall win would be his if he maintained the position. Behind them Blose began to apply pressure on Herrlein for third and successfully made the pass at the halfway point.
The top three went unchanged over the second half of the main event, with Owen taking the win by 1.8 seconds over Faith in second. Blose rounded out the podium in third, with Herrlein fourth and Sewell fifth, duplicating their efforts from the first main event.
By virtue of his triumphant effort in the Head 2 Head Challenge, Faith (1-2) had the edge when the overall results were tallied, outscoring Owen (2-1) by a single point to take his third overall victory of the season. Blose’s 3-3 finishes landed him third overall, with Herrlein fourth (4-4) and Sewell fifth (5-5).
Owen and Faith now sit knotted atop the Race to the Ricky Carmichael Cup standings and 38 points apiece, and both riders will carry red number plates into the second round next weekend. Blose is third, five points behind the co-leaders.
The Western Regional AX Lites class main event got underway with Haeseker Motors/M21 Suspension Yamaha’s Kinser Endicott grabbing the holeshot over Team Babbitt’s/GPF/Monster Energy Kawasaki/MMCR’s Ryan Breece, the champions leader entering the night, and Lesher. The battle for the lead intensified on the opening laps, with Breece moving out front on lap two, bringing Lesher along with him into second and dropping Endicott to third.
Breece encountered misfortune while leading on Lap 5, crashing in the whoops but quickly recovering to reenter in third. That allowed Lesher to take control of the main event, with Endicott in second. Breece battled back to take second from Endicott on lap six before the Yamaha rider lost even more positions on the ensuing lap to Woodstock KTM’s Hunter Sayles and Husqvarna rider Dylan Summerlin. On lap eight Sayles and Breece engaged in a heated battle for second, making contact and forcing Sayles off the track and down to eighth place. That allowed Summerlin to move into third. The battle up front settled for several laps until Breece crashed out of second on lap 12 and dropped to eighth. That gave second to Endicott, who patiently worked his way back to the front after losing positions early, and moved Sayles into third, rebounding from his off-track excursion just a handful of laps earlier. Sayles would get around Endicott for third on Lap 13.
Out front, Lesher kept his front end clean and stayed ahead of the trouble behind him to take an easy victory, crossing the finish line 10.3 seconds ahead of Sayles, who secured a hard-earned runner-up finish. Endicott parlayed his holeshot into a podium result in third.
The win vaulted Lesher from third in the Western Regional standings into a tie for the championship lead alongside Sayles. Breece fell from first to third, two points out of first.
AMSOIL Arenacross will continue the Race to the Ricky Carmichael Cup next Friday, March 24, and Saturday, March 25, from Reno, Nevada’s Livestock Events Center. Both nights will kick off at 7 p.m. PT / 10 p.m. ET.