Last week you were probably popping bottles to ring in the New Year, but last weekend we were popping bottles on the podium to ring in the new season of Kicker Arenacross at the Budweiser Event Center in Loveland, CO. The now AMA sanctioned series makes two stops in Colorado and travels through New Mexico, Oklahoma, Nevada, Utah, and Texas for the 2020 season. A lot has changed in the world of Kicker Arenacross over the past couple of years, but our favorite aspects remain the same: tight tracks, tight battles, and a tight-knit, dirt bike-loving community to enjoy the rowdy experience with.
Saturday Race Recap:
The pro line-up for Round 1 in Loveland this year was the largest (and fastest) we’ve seen in a while. Though most of Colorado’s local pros were in Anaheim, California at A1 to try their luck on the professional supercross stage, top arenacross riders from around the country still flooded the event center to battle it out.
On Saturday night, returning 2019 champion Jace Owen simply stole the show. The Phoenix Racing Honda rider was unbeatable, checking out and winning every heat race and main event that he left the gate for in 250 Pro Sport and 450 Pro Sport. On the podium, he attributed his wins to consistency and a great off season.
The 250 Pro Sport main event was a heated one. The #457 ride of Darian Sanayei grabbed the holeshot, but Owen secured the lead early with a pass through the whoops. Behind them was Gared Steinke in third with the rest of the pack hot on his heels. The #38 of Kyle Peters made quick work of Steinke with an impressive pass entering the rhythm section made possible by his unmatched momentum carried through the outside. Peters continued his charge and was able to squeeze in the pass on Sanayei for second. As Owen and Peters put a gap on the rest of the field, a four-way Kawasaki battle for third ensued between Kyle Bitterman, Steinke, Sanayei, and Mason Kerr. In the end, Owen came away with the win, Peters followed, and Bitterman snagged the final podium position.
The 450 Pro Sport main, while equally as impressive to watch, was slightly less eventful. This time, Peters started the race off right with the holeshot, but Owen followed close to pressure his teammate and Kerr found himself in the third spot. Owen put the pass for first on Peters early in the race and the two put a comfortable lead on the pack once again. Other than some close rides in the back end of the top five, the race came to a close with no position changes inside the top three.
The local supermini riders that came to play on Saturday night were no joke. The #311 of Ryder Hernandez got off to a great start with the holeshot. Even with local powerhouse Jeremiah Willoughby, Texas resident Thomas Ralston, and Pueblo kid Ryan Boutilier in tow, Hernandez still showcased a cool, calm, and collected riding style that exuded confidence and technical excellence. A flying Jeremiah Willoughby closed in on him quickly, though, and before long the two were in the middle of a fun battle. It didn’t last long, however, as Willoughby fell off the pace slightly and later went down after the finish going into the white flag lap. Hernandez came away with a commanding win and Ralston and Boutilier rounded out the podium as a result of Willoughby’s unfortunate last minute mistake.
Some of the most exciting racing of the night took place when the 85cc riders took to the track. In the main event, local ripper Ryan Hadley started off in the lead, but Boutilier and Utah resident Cohen Jackman jumped out front early to begin what would be a battle that had the entire crowd on the edge of their seats for the first half of the race. The two swapped positions back and forth aggressively until Jackman was finally able to break away mid race. He impressively picked through lappers to the finish and Boutilier and Ethan Funk followed for the second and third spots.
The 65cc riders put on quite the show, as well. With a pile up in the first corner, Finn Shaw came out of the gate to an early lead. By mid race, madness commenced behind him with a close battle for second between five riders. In the midst of it all, the #10 of Jett Kellogg worked his way through the group and was able to reel in Shaw. Kellogg, on absolute fire at this point, made the pass on the leader through the rhythm section and ran with it. The race began to unravel for Shaw when he got held up by a lapper and tipped over, causing him to lose more positions. In the end, it was Kellogg with a tremendous win, Zach Redd in second, and Tanner Pike in third.
51cc Limited Open
It’s always a blast watching the young 50cc riders race arenacross in a packed stadium—and the post race interviews are by far the most entertaining of the night. In this class, it was a close start between the #211 of Steven Street and the #84 of Cole Massa, but Street checked out quickly. A tight race between Massa, Kaid Gadd, and Riley Nelson ensued behind him and boy was it a fun one to see! Gadd had the speed to make the pass for second, but couldn’t quite get it done and Nelson used the hold up to make serious gains on the riders ahead. At the white flag, all three riders were headed up the finish face together, to put the closeness in perspective. Street ended up taking the checkered first, Massa followed, and Gadd grabbed third. Street commemorated the win with his signature worm down the start straight and let’s not forget that he promised to show it off when he becomes a 450 main event winner, too. It’s in writing now… there’s no backing out, Steven.
What a wild two days of epic racing this first weekend of Kicker Arenacross was. We can’t wait to watch it all unfold throughout the remainder of the season. Until next time, here comes the checkered flag on this one.