ELLENTON, Fla. – official series release — ShiftOne Photography/Arenacross photo —
The 2016 AMSOIL Arenacross season commenced last Saturday in Cincinnati with a competitive night of competition that showcased the depth of talent in the championship.
With the tension of the first race behind them, the world’s most intense riders will contest their first two-night round of the season this Friday, Jan. 15, and Saturday, Jan. 16, from Baltimore’s Royal Farms Arena.
In Cincinnati it was Team Babbitt’s/Monster Energy/AMSOIL Kawasaki’s Gavin Faith who emerged from the fray in the Arenacross Class with an overall win in his debut outing for the team. His triumph headlined what became a Babbitt’s sweep of the podium with Jacob Hayes in second and Chris Blose in third. It marked the second consecutive year that Team Babbitt’s accomplished that feat at the opening round and it puts the team in an enviable position heading to Baltimore.
With back-to-back nights of racing lying ahead, the potential for the championship to experience its first shakeup is there. A year ago the two-night second round produced two different winners and set a tone of parity that carried on throughout the season. Based on the competitiveness in Cincinnati, more parity is on the horizon in 2016.
While Team Babbitt’s made a statement with its strong finish, there were impressive efforts from a variety of riders. Woodstock/TZR KTM’s Travis Sewell took the win in the first Main Event of 2016, but not without an intense battle against Rockstar Energy Drink Husqvarna Factory Racing presented by FMC and OTSFF rider Gared Steinke. In the second Main Event, Triangle Cycles Yamaha’s Keith Tucker looked to be on the way to his first career Main Event win in the premier class until a last-lap pass by Jacob Hayes. Both Faith and Blose maintained spots in the front half of the field, leading to their overall podium finishes.
One rider who did not end up factoring into the battle for the win at the opening round was Rockstar Energy Drink Husqvarna Factory Racing’s Kyle Regal, the defending AMSOIL Arenacross Champion. Regal’s start to his title defense didn’t go as planned, resulting in an eighth-place finish overall, but he was among the fastest riders in the field and made his presence felt with a win in the first RMATV/MC Head 2 Head Challenge of the season. Although he faces a larger points deficit than he would have hoped for after the first round, currently 13 behind the leader, Regal is no stranger to a comeback. Just last year Regal finished outside the top 10 at the opening round, but fought his way back to win the 2015 title. The veteran rider was adamant about patience when discussing the length of the 2016 season and this weekend in Baltimore presents an ideal opportunity to bounce back and reassert himself.
The talent in the Arenacross Class was evident and the stage is set for another thrilling weekend of intense competition this weekend.
In the Eastern Regional Arenacross Lites Class opener, Keith Tucker was in a class of his own en route to a dominant win but the early battle for that championship has NST/Spinechillers KTM’s Lane Staley in control after a second-place finish. It looks as though he will receive stiff competition from Honda rider Henry Miller, who finished third in Cincinnati, and FCC Motorsports Honda’s Dylan Walker. This championship battle is sure to take shape with two nights of racing on the schedule in Baltimore.
CREDIT: AMSOIL Arenacross