ONTARIO, Calif. – official series release — ShiftOne Photography photo —
The journey to capture the Ricky Carmichael Cup began Friday in Southern California as the AMSOIL Arenacross Race to the Championship kicked off the first of two nights of action inside Citizens Business Bank Arena.
An intense night of action saw Team Babbitt’s/Monster Energy/AMSOIL Kawasaki’s Chris Blose emerge with his third overall win of the season to move into the points lead.
In the Western Regional Arenacross Lites Class, Shawnee Motor Company/Justified Cultures KTM’s Cheyenne Harmon captured the first win of his professional career with a wire-to-wire victory, closing the gap to his rivals in the championship standings.
The start at Citizens Business Bank Arena was one of the most unique of the season, with the gate positioned outside and leading into the arena. In the first Arenacross Class Main Event it was Race to the Championship top seed Gavin Faith who captured the holeshot aboard his Team Babbitt’s/Monster Energy/AMSOIL Kawasaki ahead of his teammate Blose and TiLUBE/TUF Racing Honda’s Jace Owen.
Blose made an early attempt to pass Faith for the lead on the opening lap, but the points leader held him off and looked to control the 15-lap Main Event. Despite his best efforts, Faith was unable to keep Blose and Owen more than just a few bike lengths away and on lap four Blose was able to assume the lead briefly before Faith took it back. The two battled for the top spot again to start lap seven, with Blose getting the upper hand this time.
Once in the lead, he established a small gap that would allow him to carry on to the win. Faith came under pressure from Owen for second late, and lost the position to the Honda rider on lap 11. They would follow Blose across the lined in second and third, respectively. TZR/Woodstock KTM’s Travis Sewell was fourth, with Rockstar Energy Drink Husqvarna Factory Racing presented by FMC and OTSFF rider Gared Steinke in fifth.
As the field roared into the arena to start the second Main Event it was TiLUBE/TUF Racing Honda’s Ben Lamay who earned the holeshot over Blose and Faith, with defending champion Kyle Regal fourth aboard his Rockstar Energy Drink Husqvarna Factory Racing machine and Team Babbitt’s/Monster Energy/AMSOIL Kawasaki’s Jacob Hayes fifth.
Lamay showed impressive speed early in the Main Event and was able to distance himself from Blose, who knew he would secure the overall win if he stayed in front of Faith. The top three riders settled into their positions, but Hayes wasn’t far behind after making the pass on Regal for fourth. Lamay went unchallenged for the win, while Blose rode 15 solid laps to maintain a firm hold on second. Faith had to deal with some late pressure from his teammate for third, but held on. Hayes was fourth, with GEICO Honda’s Chase Sexton in fifth.
When the overall results were tallied Blose’s 1-2 finishes, combined with his win in the RMATV/MC Head 2 Head Challenger earlier in the evening, gave him his third victory of the season. It was his first since the third round of the season.
“I need to keep bringing it every night and try to minimize the mistakes [on the track]. Keep getting good starts and keep it on two wheels,” said Blose. “I’ll get a good night’s rest and try to come back out here tomorrow and do it again.”
Faith’s consistent 3-3 effort landed him second overall and snapped a three-race winning streak that he carried into the Race to the Championship. Lamay’s second ever Main Event win in the last race of the evening was enough to overcome a tough first Main Event and finish third overall (7-1). Lamay’s teammate Owen finished fourth (2-7) after salvaging a solid finish in the second Main Event that saw him start near the tail end of the field. Hayes rounded out the top five (6-4).
Blose’s stellar night vaulted him from fourth to first in the Race to the Championship standings. He will carry a two-point lead over Faith into the second night of racing in Ontario. Lamay jumped from fifth to third, seven points out of the lead, with Owen fourth (-8) and Hayes fifth (-9).
When the gate dropped on the 15-lap Western Regional Arenacross Lites Class Main Event it was Harmon who emerged from the outdoor start with the lead, grabbing the holeshot as the field raced into the arena. Thousand Oaks/Elusive Graphics Yamaha’s Blake Green slotted into second, ahead of MX Athletics KTM’s Carlen Gardner. Championship leader Ben Nelko started fifth aboard his Team DirtBike Mike/KTM Sports Center of Little Rock KTM, just behind TZR/Woodstock KTM’s Cody VanBuskirk, who entered second in points.
Harmon set a torrid pace early to open a lead over the field, while Green and Gardner both held on to podium spots for the first handful of laps. On lap six VanBuskirk moved into podium position, passing Gardner, and proceeded to move into the runner-up spot on the ensuing lap by passing Green. As they battled for third, Green and Gardner made contact just after the finish to start Lap 12, which allowed a patient Nelko to pick up two spots and move into third.
Out front Harmon rode a near-flawless Main Event to claim the first win of his career. VanBuskirk followed in second, with Nelko third. DrivenMX/MEPMX KTM’s Jared Lesher finished fourth, with TZR/Woodstock KTM’s Scott Zont rounding out the top five.
Harmon, VanBuskirk and Nelko occupy the top three spots in the Western Regional Championship and with their finishing order in the Main Event reversing their position in the points, the title fight grew even tighter.
“I worked my but off to be up here. Two days before the season I wasn’t even sure I would be racing, so it’s crazy to see how far I’ve come since then,” said Harmon. “This is my first career professional win and I really wanted it tonight. I’m just so pumped and I really want to make a run for this [Western Regional] title.”
Nelko’s podium effort helped him maintain control of the lead in the Western Regional Championship, but his advantage now sits at just two points over VanBuskirk. Harmon remains third, but the win closed him to within 12 points of the lead.
CREDIT: AMSOIL Arenacross