Sellards Catches Up In Memphis

Kit Palmer | February 6, 2006

 The following is a release from CCE:

The overall championship for the 2005-’06 Toyota AMA National Arenacross Series will be decided this weekend’s (Feb. 10-11) 10th and final round of action at the Denver Coliseum.

At stake is a brand new Toyota Tacoma 4×4 truck, tens of thousands of dollars in prize and contingency money and the bragging rights to be this year’s exclusive AMA National Arenacross Series Champion.

This past weekend, in front of two sizable crowds at Memphis’ palatial FedEx Forum, Brock Sellards (Thor/Honda/TUF Racing) made up the seven points he needed to catch Yamaha’s Chad Johnson and set up a showdown in Denver, which the sport of arenacross hasn’t seen for nearly a decade.

“I was talking with Dave Antolak (Thor/Honda/TUF Racing boss) over the weekend, and as near as we could figure, it hasn’t been since 1996 that a title chase has come down to the last event,” said longtime Toyota AMA National Arenacross announcer Tim Cotter. “We’re gonna have one heck of a time out there in Denver this weekend, that’s for sure.”

On Friday night, Johnson, who again enjoyed a seven-point lead entering this past weekend’s contest, got out to a fourth- to fifth-place start and set his sights on Sellards and race leader, Weekend Warrior Holeshot winner Jeff Northrop (Thor/Honda/TUF Racing).

About two laps into the race, Johnson caught Sellards and plowed into the Honda-mounted racer just outside the whoop section, taking the lead with authority.

Sellards, who was stopped but able to re-mount quickly, lost his front brake in the collision.

“It bent my front brake caliper and I had to ride the last 18 laps with no front brake – in traffic and on the gas the entire time,” said Sellards.

Picking off riders left and right, Sellards finally caught Johnson later in the race, when Johnson was slowed up by a fallen Travis Hodges in the rhythm section. The ensuing pass seemed to deflate Johnson’s confidence, saying on the podium afterwards that he “didn’t have his head in it tonight.”

With riders all over the place on the tight racetrack, Sellards actually thought for a moment he’d won. But that honor would go to the consistently fast Kevin Johnson of Team Faith/Yamaha. Rounding out the podium was Sellards in second, picking up some valuable points on Chad Johnson, who ended up in sixth. Northrop would finish third, with Greg Schnell (Rockstar/Suzuki) and Zach Ames (Suzuki) finishing in fourth and fifth places, respectively.

The racing then ramped back up on Saturday with fans packing the home of the NBA’s Memphis Grizzlies all the way up to the third tier. Pulling the Weekend Warrior Holeshot was Kevin Johnson. Johnson would then provide the weekend’s most dramatic moment late in the race – make that real late – when his bike stalled out with 30 feet to go to the finish line on the final lap. Because of that, Northrop would inherit his first win of the season, which also allowed him to take over fourth place in the overall standings ahead of Schnell.

Rounding out the Saturday-night podium were Sellards and Chad Johnson.

Johnson again got a mediocre start and, after a bobble in the whoops that saw half the field pass him, he was again forced to play catch up on the tight track for much of the race. Chad Johnson didn’t have it easy and Sellards again out-pointed him to tie up the overall points chase at 375-375.

Not to be lost in the points chase was Kevin Johnson’s effort, which put him into a solid third-place spot on the overall podium, 19 points ahead of Northrop.

In the AMA Arenacross Lites division, North Carolina’s Jim Neese picked up where traveling buddy Jim Chester left off last week in Hampton, Va., going 1-1 at Memphis. Kevin Markwardt (Suzuki) raced solid in the Lites, as well, coming back from a wrist injury earlier this year to finish 2-3 on the weekend. Roy Horton (Honda) rounded out the podium on Friday, and Clark pulled a second-place finish on Saturday.

The Toyota AMA National Arenacross Series returns to action in this weekend when the world’s top arena-based motocross racers converge on the Denver Coliseum for the final round of the 10-round series. For more information on the Denver race, visit or contact the Denver Coliseum box office at (303) 640-2637.

Kit Palmer | Off-Road Editor

Kit Palmer started his career at Cycle News in 1984 and he’s been testing dirt and streetbikes every since – plus covering any event that uses some form of a knobby tire. He’s also our resident motorcycle mileage man with a commute of 120 miles a day.