Bowers Wraps Up Fourth Arenacross Crown
SALT LAKE CITY – The final round of the 2014 AMSOIL Arenacross, featuring Ricky Carmichael’s Road to Supercross, season brought an action-filled night of competition to EnergySolutions Arena on Saturday as a pair of champions were crowned.
Entering the evening with a comfortable lead in the Race to the Championship, Babbitt’s Monster Energy/AMSOIL Kawasaki presented by Maxxis rider Tyler Bowers swept the Arenacross Class Main Events to grab his 11th overall win of the season and become just the third rider in AMSOIL Arenacross history to win four consecutive championships.
In the Western Regional Arenacross Lites Class, A&J Oilfield Services Kawasaki rider and Utah native Gray Davenport captured his first career title in front of his hometown crowd following a runner-up finish.
Motosport Hillsboro Kawasaki’s Gared Steinke raced to the holeshot in the first 15-lap Arenacross Class Main Event, with PBR/TiLube/TUF Racing Honda’s Jacob Hayes and Bowers in tow. Bowers made a quick move for second and proceeded to take over the lead on lap two from Steinke. A minor bobble by Hayes dropped him to fifth and allowed Foremost Insurance/Reynard Mods Suzuki’s Cory Green and Babbitt’s Monster Energy/AMSOIL Kawasaki’s Zach Ames to assume the battle for the final podium spot.
Ames stalled his bike on lap three, dropping to 13th, which moved Hayes back into the podium fight with Green. Hayes made the pass on Green for third on lap nine and then put the pressure on Steinke in second. Out front, Bowers cruised to a dominant win while Steinke held off Hayes for second. Ames fought back to finish eighth.
Bowers selected the inversion for the second Main Event and chose zero, meaning the field would remain as is for gate selection.
PBR/TiLube/TUF Racing Honda’s Kyle Regal grabbed the holeshot in the final Main Event of the 2014 season, but Bowers’ prowess in the whoops on Saturday night allowed him to move into second on the opening lap and then into the lead on lap two. While Bowers set sail to the title out front, Ames had to battle his way from a start just outside the top five while Hayes started the Main Event in dead last. Bowers went unchallenged en route to victory, with Ames battling his way to a runner-up finish. Regal finished third, while his teammate Hayes climbed to a sixth-place finish in the end.
Bowers was joined on the overall podium by Steinke in second (2-4) and Regal in third (4-3).
Bowers entered the night with an 18-point lead and finished the season off with a 25-point margin over Hayes. It wasn’t an easy path to the title for Bowers in 2014, suffering a broken tibia at the opening round of the season and racing through the pain to keep himself in title contention. A broken rib suffered at the start of the Race to the Championship set Bowers back again as the season hit the home stretch, but he refused to quit, ultimately winning 19 Main Events, including the final seven of the season to pull away from his rivals in the Race to the Championship.
“It’s been a crazy year, getting injured at first round and having to fight through adversity pretty much all season,” said Bowers, who joins Buddy Antunez and Dennis Hawthorne as the only four-peat champions in AMSOIL Arenacross history. “I’m just happy to be up here today. Zach Ames made it tough on me this year and forced me to be at my best every week. These [championships] are never easy but we refused to give up, kept at it every week, and here we are with a fourth straight title.”
Earlier in the evening, Ames defeated Bowers to take the win in Head-to-Head Bracket Racing and earn an additional championship bonus point to solidify his third-place finish in the final championship standings.
Frontier Lubricants KTM’s Daniel Blair grabbed the early lead in the 18-lap Arenacross Lites Class Main Event with Davenport mere bike lengths behind. Davenport took advantage of the strong start to take over the lead from Blair on the opening lap, bringing Team Faith/Fly Racing KTM’s Kelly Smith with him.
The duo separated themselves from Blair and engaged in a captivating battle for the lead that lasted four laps before Smith took over the lead for good on lap six. Davenport kept pace with Smith for several laps, but ultimately settled into second knowing he had the title within reach. Smith went on to win by just over two seconds over Davenport, with BWREngines.com Honda’s Kyle White in third.
Davenport won the title by just two points over White.
“This feels awesome, I had a lot of help this year,” said Davenport, who made his return to AMSOIL Arenacross for the first time since the 2011 season. “I took a few years off but I couldn’t be happier to be out here racing again. It’s so nice to have the support of the hometown crowd. I have a lot of family and friends here, and I have to thank everyone here for cheering me on. This is so awesome.”