Arenacross: Pikeville preview

Toyota AMA Arenacross Series Pikeville Notebook AURORA, Ill. (Feb. 15, 2008) -- With a week of rest to heal their bruised and battered bodies, the warriors of the Toyota AMA Arenacross Series return to battle this weekend for what will no...

Toyota AMA Arenacross Series Pikeville Notebook

AURORA, Ill. (Feb. 15, 2008) -- With a week of rest to heal their bruised and battered bodies, the warriors of the Toyota AMA Arenacross Series return to battle this weekend for what will no doubt prove to be two thoroughly action-packed nights of racing at the Eastern Kentucky Expo Center in Pikeville, Ken.

Pikeville could very well turn out to be a watershed moment for the 2007-'08 Toyota AMA Arenacross Series. On one hand the series' fastest racer and former champion, Chad Johnson (Bad Boy/TUF/Honda), who's leading the points chase. On the other, a proven veteran, Kelly Smith (Monster/Babbitt's/Kawasaki) - tough as the day is long -- who wants desperately to wrestle that points lead away from Johnson so that he too can add the prestigious Toyota AMA Arenacross Series champion to his race resume.

So however it is stacked this weekend in Kentucky - something's got to give.

"Here we go again. It's crunch time for Team Babbitt's," said Robert Hansen, Live Nation. "All the Toyota AMA Arenacross class racers will meet on one floor to do battle and Babbitt's needs to make a statement this weekend. Kelly Smith will need all the help that his teammate Brock Sellards can muster up."

Hansen figures that the split weekend two weeks ago (Hampton, Va., and Youngstown, Ohio) benefitted Kelly Smith the most, citing that Bad Boy/TUF/Honda's Danny Smith and the similar gains he made last season during a split weekend.

"I remember this time last year when Danny (Smith) split off to go race a different round of the Toyota AMA Arenacross Series to pad his points lead, which eventually led to his championship," said Hansen. "Kelly (Smith) took advantage of this. You'll see them together this weekend, but we have another split weekend next week (Sacramento and Greensboro, N.C.) and I'll bet you won't see the title contenders at the same event."

Leading the charge into Pikeville are Chad Johnson (Bad Boy/TUF/Honda) and Kelly Smith (Monster/Babbitt's/Kawasaki). Johnson is currently leading the points chase, but Smith has the momentum -- sweeping last weekend's Hampton (Va.) rounds and pulling to within nine points of Johnson (316-307).

"I'll tell you right now this is going to be one exciting weekend of Toyota AMA Arenacross Series racing in Kentucky," said Denny Bartz, team manager for Monster/Babbitt's/Kawasaki. "Everyone is at the same race and there's only a nine-point difference between Chad Johnson and Kelly Smith. Not only should there be some good racing between those two, but also with some other racers like Tommy Hofmaster and Robbie Reynard. Either of those guys have shown they can win anytime, along with Keith and Kevin Johnson and Teddy Maier. And don't count out Brock Sellards. He never shows up to finish second."

Last year in Pikeville, Brock Sellards (Monster/Babbitt's/Kawasaki) won the Friday night race, then was upset in Saturday's main event by Kentucky's own Justin Sipes (Flaherty) aboard the # 281 Kawasaki. Sipes won in spectacular fashion over Travis Sewell (Suzuki) and Scott Metz (Honda) while Sellards wound up 4th.

Toyota AMA Arenacross Series hat's off to Kevin "KJ" Johnson (Team Faith/Yamaha) for stepping up, making the Lites class main event at the San Diego Monster Energy® Supercross race and finishing a very respectable 12th overall. But now it's back to arenacross, where KJ has two overall wins on the year and is in 6th place overall in the points -- five points out of the top five.

Some further information on the Expo Center, courtesy of Excitement is in the air as Pike County is seeing the limitless opportunities arising with the completion of the Eastern Kentucky Exposition Center. Situated in the center of downtown Pikeville, the Center opened in October 2005.

During construction, the $29 million project had an estimated $30 million annual economic impact on the county and created approximately 130 jobs. Its projected annual economic impact is more than $10 million, with $6.5 million of that figure coming from out-of-state visitors coming to Pike County, specifically for a civic center event. An additional $2.4 million would be recaptured from Kentucky residents who currently attend events out of state. This project will benefit not only the 70,000 citizens of Pike County but will serve the entire region as a center of culture, education, and entertainment.

Advance tickets for the Feb. 15-17 Toyota AMA Arenacross Series round at Pikeville's Expo Center are available through, in at the Expo Center Box Office and Ticketmaster Outlets or charge by phone at (606) 433-1793. Show times are Friday and Saturday, 7:30 p.m., Sunday (amateurs) at 12:00. Doors open Friday and Saturday at 6:30 p.m., Sunday at 11 a.m. Friday and Saturday advance tickets are $18 to $20 for adults, $5 for kids ages 2-12. Sunday's tickets are $18 for adults, $5 for kids. All seats $2 more day of show.

-credit: ama

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Series AMA
Drivers Kelly Smith