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Arenacross: Dayton, Pikeville pre-race notebook

TUF Racing/Honda's Danny Smith is still leading -- but Junior Jackson Racing/Suzuki's Chad Johnson is coming on fast! AURORA, Ill., (Jan. 18, 2007) -- Heading into Baltimore last week TUF Racing/Honda's Danny Smith had a 29-point lead over ...

TUF Racing/Honda's Danny Smith is still leading -- but Junior Jackson Racing/Suzuki's Chad Johnson is coming on fast!

AURORA, Ill., (Jan. 18, 2007) -- Heading into Baltimore last week TUF Racing/Honda's Danny Smith had a 29-point lead over defending Toyota AMA Arenacross Series champion Chad Johnson (165-136). That lead was nearly cut in half -- to 15 points -- as Johnson went on a tear, going 2-1 at 1st Mariner Arena.

Smith has said all along this season that the series will go down to the last moto of the last race at Nashville's Municipal Auditorium (Feb. 16-17). Although Baltimore was the first weekend of the season that Smith's been shut off the podium, he remained optimistic on his efforts.

"I started the main event on Friday in the back row because I fell in my heat," said Smith. "The same thing happened Saturday night. The speed was there, but I wasn't able to make it up front. I just wasn't on it. Still, I salvaged a 4th and a 6th pretty much from dead last off the gate. This is all coming down to the last race and I'm preparing for it."

Junior Jackson weighs in: "We were ready when we started the season, but had a couple issues -- mainly with Chad's (Johnson) starts. We worked real hard over the Christmas break in those areas, did some motor work to accommodate holeshots and Chad was able to get his first win (Charlotte, Saturday), back that up in Baltimore and I expect the momentum to continue to build."

The Reynard/Pastrana bet: Baltimore's 1st Mariner Arena had an interesting guest last weekend. Former supercross/motocross champ, FMX legend, rally car racer, video producer Travis Pastrana was in the house, making the main event through a semi and finishing 7th overall. Reportedly, in order to get Pastrana out to the Toyota AMA Arenacross round, Robbie Reynard (Reynard Modifications/Honda) had to bet Pastrana that he'd beat him. No reports on what Pastrana had to pay up after Reynard won Friday's main event.

Ironman Jim Neese: One of the Toyota AMA Arenacross Series' toughest performances this year came this past weekend when Jim Neese (Carolina Xpress/Suzuki) got caught in a Friday night AMA Arenacross Lites class pile up, run over, beat up -- yet still managed to make the podium (2nd) covered from head to toe in Maryland dirt. Dead tired and hurting, Neese bucked up and also made the podium on Friday in the AMA Arenacross class -- the first time somebody's done that this year (podium in both classes). Then, for good measure, Neese came out and won the AMA Arenacross Lites class on Saturday night.

Friday's Baltimore lineup: Think it's tough to qualify for a Toyota AMA Arenacross main event? Get this, Friday's AMA Arenacross class gate featured five (5) former factory riders. Smith, Reynard, Brock Sellards, Justin Buckelew and Pastrana. And Pastrana, who's won supercross and motocross titles, finished 7th!

Jimmy Albertson to Toyota AMA Arenacross Series: The great Missouri racer signed with Junior Jackson Racing/Suzuki this week after the departure of Greg Schnell from the team. An up-and-coming pro, Albertson had an outstanding amateur career, dicing with the likes of Outdoor National champ Ryan Villopoto and Josh Hill at Lake Whitney (Texas). The 18-year-old will be based out of Kemp, Texas, training at the Underground MX facility with teammate Chad Johnson and will run his first Toyota AMA Arenacross Series race of the season this weekend at Dayton. "Jimmy's ambitious and will be a good fit for the team as he works his way up from arenacross to supercross," said Jackson. "He'll run the AMA Arenacross class, finishing out the rest of the series. We're not looking for him to win races, just to build."

More on Pastrana at Baltimore: According to Live Nation Director of Arenacross Robert Hansen the autograph line for Pastrana was the longest he'd ever seen at a Toyota AMA Arenacross Series event. "We started the evening with announcers Tim Cotter and Ashley Phillips introducing the racers, turned the show lights down and Tim and Ashley were walking off the track when Tim announced 'Baltimore! We've got one more rider to announce' then the spotlight hit the No. 199 bike and the place went bananas! They didn't even have to mention Pastrana's name. The fans just saw the number and erupted."

Brock Sellards at Pikeville: This weekend's dual-race schedule puts the two venues -- Dayton's Nutter Center and Pikeville's Expo Center -- about five hours apart, which makes for another interesting round of bench racing 'What ifs' regarding who's going where. According to our sources, and we've been misinformed on the past on this, Ohio's own Brock Sellards (TUF Racing/Honda) will forgo the race in his home state to attempt to gain some additional championship points at Pikeville. Sellards did this at Grand Rapids (Mich.) instead of going to Charlotte and moved from 9th to 4th in the overall AMA Arenacross class points standings in one weekend. This past weekend Sellards slipped a couple notches back to 6th overall in the points, nine points behind Reynard in 4th.

-credit: www.arenacross.com.

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Series AMA
Drivers Travis Pastrana , Josh Hill , Ryan Villopoto