Toyota AMA Arenacross Series NotebookThursday, January 25, 2007 | 11:10 AM
AURORA, Ill., (Jan. 25, 2007) – The most crowded title chase in the history of Toyota AMA Arenacross is about to erupt this weekend in Colorado and Kentucky. The Denver’s Coliseum and Louisville’s Broadbent Arena will be the news for another exciting chapter in a season-long arenacross racing story that will unfold in front of legions of Rocky Mountain and Midwest motocross fans.
No less than seven (1,2,3,4,5,6,7) Toyota AMA Arenacross Series racers have AMA Arenacross class main event wins on the season, with six of those racers having multiple wins. The rider arenacross director Robert Hansen refers to as the “War Horse,” Robbie Reynard (Reynard Modifications/Honda), leads the way with four wins. Last year’s runner up to the Toyota AMA Arenacross Series title, Brock Sellards (TUF Racing/Honda), has three wins – a couple of those coming from a former “regional” race in Grand Rapids (Mich.) that’s now worth national points. The other four riders – defending champion Chad Johnson (Junior Jackson Racing/Suzuki), current points leader Danny Smith (TUF Racing/Honda), Kevin Johnson (Team Faith/Yamaha) and his brother Keith Johnson (privateer/Yamaha) all have two AMA Arenacross class main event wins each. The standout racer with one win this year is Justin Sipes, who held on to top Sellards in the Pikeville (Ky.) main event this past Saturday.
“I’ll tell you what, we’ve got more diversity with this group than I can ever remember,” said announcer Tim Cotter, the voice longtime synonymous with Toyota AMA Arenacross Series. “When you look at the number of guys that have been winning races, you have to go a long, long way back to find a season like we’re having this year. I wish we had four more additional rounds to let this play out even further. It’s been a blast to watch.”
Following this weekend’s rounds in Denver and Louisville, the Toyota AMA Arenacross Series makes stops in Springfield, Ill., (Feb. 2-4), Saginaw, Mich., and Wheeling, W.Va., (Feb. 9-11), then it’s time for what all signs point to as one heck of a racing weekend when the finals of the 2006-’07 Toyota AMA Arenacross Series at Nashville’s (Tenn.) Municipal Auditorium will decide this year’s overall champion. For ticket information on these upcoming events, link to: www.arenacross.com
Fast As Fitch! Coloradoans can keep an eye this week on the No. 204 bike of Denver’s Bobby Fitch. The 26-year-old was the toast of the town last year when he rocketed out of relative obscurity and won the AMA Arenacross Lites class main event on Saturday night. Fitch, who works construction to, as he put it, “make enough dough to race supercross,” also runs the FAF (Fast As Fitch) Motocross School in the Denver area. A Columbine H.S. graduate, Fitch will for sure be one of the fan favorites this weekend in Denver.
Chad Johnson injured? Ashley made a good observation regarding Chad Johnson’s condition. According to her announcing partner, Tim Cotter, CJ’s dad, along with team owner Junior Jackson, had to use CJ’s bike as a makeshift wheelchair to remove him from the track after a heat race in Dayton. Johnson is said to be suffering from a sever upper leg (groin) muscle pull, so bad it reportedly led his mom to say “That boy just had a baby – that’s how much pain he’s in.” The mark of a true Toyota AMA Arenacross Series champion, CJ soldiered on and won the main event on Saturday.
Fans, bring a helmet to Denver! For some reason things always tend to get a bit wild at the Denver Coliseum this time of year. Maybe it’s the altitude, maybe it’s the money, but historically Denver’s been a place where riders figure it’s ‘make or break’ time for the championship. This was obviously apparent last year when Chad Johnson and Sellards went at it – literally – for the title with CJ ramming his way into the overall lead by one point – the closest title finish in the history of Toyota AMA Arenacross. Former champion Buddy Antunez and his friend Denny Stephenson got into a fight there once, as did former champion Darcy Lange and Tiger Lacey. So keep an eye on the tunnel after the race because if it’s gonna go down, that’s where it usually starts!
Pikeville’s Sold-Out Saturday! What a night of racing at Pikeville’s Expo Center. Kentucky and eastern Virginia motocross fans were out in full force to see the stars of Toyota AMA Arenacross, enough so that no more tickets could be sold! Homeboy Justin Sipes was on it and made Toyota AMA Arenacross history by being the first racer to sweep the AMA Arenacross Lites and AMA Arenacross class main events, doing so in come-from-behind fashion last Saturday night. Brad Modjewski, Jim Chester, “Gnarly” Charlie Morrison, privateer Danny Smith (no relation to the points leader, but still super fast), Travis Sewell, Matt Barnes, Brock Sellards, and Scott Metz battled all out, giving the fans all they could handle. And the cool thing? The “Kentucky AX Feud” continues this Saturday night in Louisville!
The crowd amplitude at Toyota AMA Arenacross has been insane. Announcer Tim Cotter says that “It’s so loud that when something happens on the other side of the track, and I’m facing the other way, I know by the ‘Ooooos’ and ‘Aaaahhhhs’ that I have to look around and see what happened.” Cotter, who wears a headset, added that from where he’s standing, the center floor of the arena, the crowds even look much larger this year than they have in the past. Added Cotter: “And the fans seem to be having more fun than ever. That’s partially because we have riders up in the stands every night during introductions, give-a-ways and autograph signings, and also because of the closest racing we’ve had in years.”
A podium with three Johnsons? Keep an eye on the podium. For the first time in professional major motorsports event history you may find three Johnsons – Chad, Kevin & Keith – all on the podium at the same time! All three are in the top five overall in points and have won races this year.
Also in Louisville: Word on the street is the Carolina Xpress team of Jim Neese and Jim Chester will both be running at Louisville. And there’s a new trophy girl that debuted in Pikeville, Amanda George. A Kentuckian, Amanda definitely had the crowd all fired up and says she’s going to run it back at Broadbent Arena this weekend!
Jimmy Albertson of the Junior Jackson Racing/Suzuki race team injured his arm this week and will not compete at the Denver round. Reports from the team stated that the injury was relatively minor (no complete break or surgery needed) and that Albertson will use the next two weeks to rest and rehabilitate in order to hopefully return to the Toyota AMA Arenacross Series the weekend of Feb. 9-10.
For more information regarding the racing coming to Denver and Louisville, Ky., this weekend, the current series’ point standings and results, or the latest news on the series are all available at www.arenacross.com.
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