WILKES-BARRE, Pa. — The sixth round of the 2013 AMSOIL Arenacross, featuring Ricky Carmichael’s Road to Supercross, season kicked off on Friday night from Wilkes-Barre, Pa., and Mohegan Sun Arena.
For the second race this season, five-time Monster Energy Supercross Champion Ricky Carmichael was on hand to watch the action unfold as Team Faith/FLY Racing KTM’s Jeff Gibson broke through for his first overall victory of the season.
In the penultimate night of the Eastern Regional Arenacross Lites Class Championship, Fun Mart Cycle KTM’s Michael Willard inched closer the title with an impressive win.
Carmichael joined the stars of AMOSIL Arenacross on the track in practice, laying down some hot laps and getting a feel for the technical track inside Mohegan Sun Arena. After spending the afternoon in the pits with the teams and riders, Carmichael brought the crowd to its feet during opening ceremonies with a special lap around the track, providing a fitting start to the night’s festivities. At the conclusion of the on-track action, Carmichael joined the riders at the post-race autograph session, thanking the fans for their support of AMSOIL Arenacross.
The first Arenacross Class Main Event of the night, Team Faith/FLY Racing KTM’s Kelly Smith grabbed the early lead and looked as though he had the speed to carry it through to the finish. However, Smith was pressed for the majority of the Main Event by Team Babbitt’s Monster Energy/AMSOIL Kawasaki’s Tyler Bowers, the Arenacross Class points leader, and on Lap 9, Bowers made his move into the lead.
Once out front, Bowers pulled away from the field, while his teammate Zach Ames and Gibson managed to slip past Smith as well in the closing laps to round out the top three.
With his win, Bowers selected the inversion for the second Main Event. The fortunate draw resulted in no inversion, meaning Bowers would maintain his first gate pick heading into the final race of the evening.
As the gate dropped on the second Main Event, Bowers put himself into the top spot thanks to his ideal starting spot. However, as the field exited the first corner, Bowers lost traction and fell to the ground. The misfortune allowed the entire 16-rider field to slip past and forced Bowers to overcome a considerable deficit over the course of 12 laps.
In Bowers’ absence, Advocare Suzuki’s Daniel Blair assumed the lead and looked to potentially capture his first Arenacross Class Main Event win. With pressure from both Gibson and Motosport.com/JBR/Spinechillers Racing KTM’s Nathan Skaggs, Blair ultimately lost the lead and eventually the runner-up position as well.
Once out front, Gibson controlled the Mai Event, taking full advantage of the misfortune experienced by Bowers, in addition to a tough Main Event for Ames. He crossed the line over three seconds ahead of Skaggs, while Blair battled hard to finish third. Bowers rebounded to finish eighth.
In the end, Gibson’s 3-1 results were enough to put him atop the overall podium, making him the fourth different winner this season. Ames followed in second overall, while Bowers’ opening Main Event victory helped him secure third overall.
Only one night remains to qualify for the inaugural Race to the Championship, the 10 rider, four round battle for the Arenacross Class title that kicks off next weekend in Little Rock, Ark. While Bowers and several of his counterparts have secured their place in the championship, the battle for the 10th and final spot has been captivating.
In Friday night’s Head-to-Head Bracket Racing, Bowers emerged with his fourth triumphant effort of the season. The championship points awarded for winning the Head-to-Head ultimately helped Bowers secure third overall for the evening.
In the Arenacross Lites Class Main Event, Willard knew he needed a strong night in order to improve his chances during the final night of action in the Eastern Regional Arenacross Lites Class Championship. The points leader moved into the lead early in the 18-lap Main Event and never looked back. Behind him, a impressive battle ensued, with Hillview Motorsports Suzuki’s Steve Roman putting forth a late charge for the win in front of his native Pennsylvania crowd. Willard crossed the line just over a second ahead of Roman, while BWRengines.com Honda’s Maxx Malatia finished third.
With just one night remaining in the Eastern Regional Arenacross Lites Class Championship, Willard holds a seven point lead over Roman.