Ames Takes First Lead in Race to the Championship
February 20, 2013
With four rounds remaining in the AMSOIL Arenacross season, the inaugural Race to the Championship began in Little Rock, Ark., at Verizon Arena on Saturday. Team Babbitt’s Monster Energy/AMSOIL Kawasaki presented by Maxxis rider Zach Ames took his second overall win of the season and claimed the early lead in the championship fight.
Ames finished fifth in the first main event and recovered from the 16-rider inversion in the second main event to finish second, claiming the overall victory. Two-time defending champion Tyler Bowers finished fourth in the first main event and eighth in the second to finish fifth overall. Bowers sits third in the Race to the Championship, trailing his teammate by four points. In the Arenacross Lites class, Tyler Villopoto remains in the hunt for the Western Region championship and sits fourth despite misfortune in Saturday’s main event.
Ames kicked off his season with a round one win in Boston, but had not returned to the top of the podium since. With the Race to the Championship beginning in Little Rock, he had the chance to take control of the series. Ames got off to a top-10 start in the first main event, but could not find many passing opportunities and finished fifth. Following a 16-rider inversion of the gate for the second main event, he rounded the first turn up front and settled into second place. He followed the leader, pressuring for a mistake, but ultimately finished second. His 5-2 score gave him the overall victory and moved him into the lead in the Championship standings.
“It’s great to leave with the points lead,” said Ames. “I got the win in the heat race, which was really like a main event because all the top riders were in it, so that felt good and gave me some confidence. The first main event I had to work my way up to fifth, but the second main I got a third place start from the back row and got into second. I’m not thinking about the points or championship yet, I just want to keep winning."
Bowers came into Saturday as the top-seeded rider in the Race to the Championship. As the gate dropped for the first main event, he did not get the jump off the gate and rounded the first turn buried behind his competitors. Bowers made quick work and started picking off riders. The track made it difficult to pass, but Bowers was able to climb to a fourth place finish. In the second main event, Bowers started from the back row and was pinched off in the first turn. He once again had to come through the pack and recovered to eighth. Bowers now sits third in the Race to the Championship.
“Tonight wasn’t the best for me,” said Bowers. “I was fast in practice, but if you didn’t get the start it was nearly impossible to pass. It was extremely one-line and guys just hugged the inside everywhere. We’re only a few points out of the lead so we’ll get them next weekend.”
In the AX Lites calss, Villopoto has shown the speed to win main events all season long. After winning the first round of the Western Region, he has been recovering from a lingering injury. Villopoto won his heat race, but in the main event suffered a crash that ended his night. He lost points on the leaders and dropped to fourth in the standings, but with three rounds remaining, he can still come out on top.
With only three rounds remaining, every main event is important in the Race to the Championship. Round eight of AMSOIL Arenacross will head to Wichita, Kansas on Saturday, February 23, 2013.