DENVER — Friday’s opening night of the final round of AMSOIL Arenacross, featuring Ricky Carmichael’s Road to Supercross, from the Denver Coliseum was a fitting beginning to what should be a truly captivating finale tomorrow night.
After a wild pair of Main Events, Team Faith/FLY Racing KTM’s Kelly Smith emerged with his first overall victory of the 2013 season, while each of the main contenders in the Race to the Championship all experienced their own up and down evenings. In the Arenacross Lites Class, BWRengines.com Honda’s Maxx Malatia extended his lead in the Western Regional Championship by racing to the win.
The opening Main Event of the night for the Arenacross Class was paced by the lead championship trio of Tyler Bowers, Zach Ames, and Jeff Gibson, who ultimately finished on the podium in that order. Ames grabbed the early lead aboard his Babbitt’s Monster Energy/AMSOIL Kawasaki presented by Maxxis machine, with his teammate Bowers in tow. Gibson, who rides for Team Faith/FLY Racing KTM, slotted into fourth initially behind Motosport.com/JBR/Spinechillers Racing KTM’s Willy Browning, but quickly moved into third.
Bowers began to pressure Ames for the lead for several laps, and on Lap 7 he made the move on his teammate. Once out front, Bowers controlled the remainder of the 12-lap Main Event, but Ames kept him within striking distance through the finish. Gibson wasn’t far behind in third.
Ricky Carmichael is in Denver to watch the final weekend of the season unfold, and he got into the action by selecting the number of riders to be inverted for the second Main Event. The five-time Monster Energy Supercross Champion ultimately chose 16, which inverted the entire field.
As the gate dropped on the second Main Event, Advocare Suzuki’s Daniel Blair secured the holeshot and early lead, but it wasn’t long before Mosites Motorsports Kawasaki’s Michael McDade took over the top spot in an effort to bounce back from a tough opening Main Event. Once out front, McDade set the pace and had a relatively uneventful race. However, the chaos that ensued behind him had a big impact on the Race to the Championship.
Ames captured the best start of the three podium finishers from the opening Main Event, slotting himself deep inside the top 10. Both Bowers and Gibson weren’t as fortunate and found themselves mired toward the tail end of the field. As he looked to move forward and put himself in position for the overall win, Ames made contact with another rider and went down, dropping him almost to last place.
After moving past Ames, both Bowers and Gibson pushed to work their way through traffic, but moments later, Bowers also made contact with another rider on a pass attempt and went down as well. Once he remounted, Bowers found himself deep in the field with his teammate. As both of his championship rivals experienced misfortune, Gibson continued his climb through the field.
McDade won the Main Event by over three seconds, while Smith battled his way into second by the end of the race, ultimately securing the overall win. Blair held on to finish third. Gibson battled his way into fifth, while Bowers and Ames settled for eighth and 11th, respectively.
Smith’s 4-2 effort edged out Gibson’s 5-3 results, while Bowers’ resiliency following his crash paid off with a third-place overall finish.
Heading into the final night of the Race to the Championship, Friday’s wild results now position Bowers with a five-point lead over Gibson with just 24 laps of racing remaining. Ames fell to 10 points out of the lead, but is still within striking distance of the title.
In Friday night’s Head-to-Head Bracket Racing, Ames prevented himself from losing additional ground to his teammate in the title fight by outdueling Bowers to claim the championship bonus point.
After a highly-competitive battle for the Western Regional Arenacross Lites Class Championship, Malatia gained a little breathing room in the standings heading into the final night of action.
Malatia secured the holeshot in the 18-lap Main Event, followed by Colorado native Travis Bannister and fellow title contender Michael Lang. Malatia was the rider to beat throughout the Main Event, while Bannister maintained a strong hold on second. In his effort to catch Bannister and keep Malatia in his sights, Lang went down aboard his Ticketwow.com Honda and was unable to finish the race.
Malatia cruised to the win, with Bannister solidly in second aboard his Moto Adventure Kawasaki, while Rock River Yamaha’s Bryce Stewart landed third.
Malatia extended his slim lead in the Western Regional Championship to six points over his BWRengines.com Honda teammate Kyle White, who moved into second, while Lang dropped to 15 points out of the lead.