Roost Report: Des Moines Arenacross
Tyler Bowers Starts The Season Right
Story and Photos by Anthony Sansotta
Des Moines, Iowa was the location for the first of four AMA Arenacross rounds before the new year ,and it was quite a thriller. With the Arenacross class making the transition from 450cc to 250cc many were curious if last year’s champion and one of the heavier riders in the series, Monster Energy Babbitt’s Kawasaki rider Tyler Bowers, would continue his reign as the King of Arenacross.
The start of Tyler’s title defense wasn’t looking easy as the competition rolled in. He would have to fend off the likes of past champions and teammates, Josh Demuth, Chad Johnson and his rival Jeff Gibson on his FMF Power Tuf Racing Honda. Not to mention the list of hungry, seasoned veterans looking to nab their first AX title.
The track inside the Wells Fargo Arena was not the typical Arenacross setup the riders are used to. A deep sand corner occupied one end of the arena, which claimed quite a few riders during the event. Along with that a nice set of dragon back whoops took the place of the standard straight away, which made for a solid test of rider fitness throughout the night. The track shaped up well through the day program, showing promise of good things to come for the night show.
As the Arenacross lites riders took to the gate for the first heat races of the evening, it was Cernic’s Honda rider Shawn Rife jumping out to an early lead and nabbing his first ever AMA Arenacross heat race win. Mandingo Pickles rider Dave Ginolfi took the win aboard his KTM in heat number two.
Arenacross class action got under way just as it left off last season, with Chad Johnson and Tyler Bowers getting out front, Tyler would overtake CJ for the lead a few laps in and cruise onto his first heat race win of the season. In heat race two Bella’s Cupcakes / Club MX Kawasaki rider Zach Ames jumped out front from the get go and took home a very convincing heat race win. Ames would also go home $406 richer after getting the holeshot and running away with the Dash for Cash.
Lites main event time rolled around it was the Letko KTM of Tanner Moore jumping out front to an early lead. Kawasaki mounted Aaron Gulley would soon take over the lead after a miscue from Moore that also allowed the 749 of Michael Willard aboard his Mandingo Pickles KTM. Willard hounded Gulley and eventually snuck by and blasted out to a rather big lead. Dave Ginolfi battled his way up to third right up onto the rear wheel of Gulley, but ran out of time as the laps came to a close. Putting Mandingo Pickles KTM first and third for the first main event of the season.
The AX main proved that the new addition of fireworks to the opening ceremony weren’t the only fireworks in store for the evening. Chad Johnson shot out of the gate just edging out Ames who fell into second. Bowers jumped in behind them and settled into a groove not knowing what he was about to witness. Ames, eager to get out front and see if he could make a break for it, showed a wheel for a few laps and decided it was time to make a move around lap five. He blasted up the inside carrying momentum from a solid drive through the dragon back, only to get his back brake caught on Johnson’s bike while planting a classic Arenacross block pass, causing them both to crash. Bowers would slip up the inside and never bobble all the way through the 25-lap main event to the checker flag. His teammate Josh Demuth made a serious charge from a mid-pack start to bulldog his way to second place. Third place went to 2009 series champion Jeff Gibson, who showed he is here to play as the series now has one round in the books.
As the series packs up and heads out of Des Moines, many now wonder what would have been had Johnson and Ames not collided. Can Ames’ confidence continue into round two and put him on the top step of the box? Who exactly is the man to beat? With the cobwebs now dusted off, will more contenders appear? Only time will tell as the series heads to Baltimore, MD next weekend for rounds two and three of the series. Stay tuned!
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