Like so many of his fellow competitors, Jeff Gibson’s opportunity to compete in the 2009 AMA Arenacross Series came just weeks before the season was slated to begin. Luckily for Gibson, a long-term relationship with team manager Dave Antolak provided a last-minute opportunity to join the Mahindra Tractors/Tuf Honda team with series legend Josh Demuth.
So far this season, Gibson has made the most of his chance to ride with the two-time reigning championship team. After four races, his worst finish is third, including one victory. As a result, he holds a comfortable 18-point lead. However, the unpredictable nature of the AMA Arenacross Series could strike Gibson at any time, so he isn’t putting his ducks in a row just yet.
Coming into Dayton this weekend, the Ohio-native is excited to race in front of his hometown crowd at the Nutter Center and is looking to just keep up the momentum.
What has it been like to achieve so much success this early in the season?
I’m actually pretty pumped right now with the way things have started off. But a lot of guys are having problems with their bikes, and I don’t want to wish any bad luck on anyone. Frankly, anything can happen. It’s a long season and I’m just getting some breaks right now. Everyone is riding really well, but our Mahindra Tractor/Tuf Honda team his running great. The bikes a great and I couldn’t be more pleased right now.
With that said, what is it like to be a part of such a successful team?
Our team is awesome. My mechanic Andy Brannen is so cool to hang out with. He is always upbeat and the nicest guy you’ll ever meet. I couldn’t be happier. Trace [Josh Demuth’s mechanic] is good, Dave Antolak goes without saying. The team is just really good and I’m really happy right now.
That deal came together pretty late. What were your plans prior to that? I didn’t have any. Honestly I didn’t know what I was going to do. I was calling Dave trying to get something worked out. Ever since I rode with Dave in 2000 for a couple races and ever since then he has tried to get me back on the team every year. So I actually called him this year to get things rolling and it worked out really well. I think I was put in this position for a reason and its really working out together. The good lord is keeping me safe so hopefully things just keep rolling.
What is it like to have Josh as a teammate?
It’s really cool. Josh and I have actually been friends since he was 16 years old and I was 12. He used to live in Ohio and we used to ride together a little bit. He was one of my heroes back then. So I’ve always looked up to him and he’s a cool teammate to have. Always funny and outgoing and we always have a good time.
How has the adjustment of returning to the AMA Arenacross Series been?
Well, I rode in 2001 and then in 2003 – I did a regional arenacross. It’s just tough. Every round and every night is different. Everyone goes so fast and is at the same speed that anything can happen. It is the AMA Arenacross Series. You just got to be smart, do the right thing, and be in the right places at the right times. It’s still really tough and it’s always going to be tough. I’m definitely not going to say its easy that’s for sure.
This is basically your home race this weekend. What does that mean to you?
I’m really pumped for the home race. I’ll be home this week and I’ll be with my wife so it’s nice. It’s also going to be kind of chaotic with it being a home race. Sometimes it’s good sometimes it’s a bad thing, but it’s definitely cool to see all the old friends and the people I grew up with in racing. I’m really excited about the weekend.
With how the season has gone so far, what are your goals now?
I just want to do it one race at a time. I don’t want to get worked up about this championship because it’s so early in the season right now. I just want to keep putting in one good night at a time and give each race 110% trying to do the best I can. I’ve been riding really well recently and I’ve been happy with that and I just want it to continue.
Anybody you’re keeping your eye on?
Everybody. I mean everybody is going fast right now. You never know who’s going to come up and blow past you. Skaggs is on his game right now and doing really good. He’s kind of an unexpected one. Josh [Demuth] is going to come up because he’s been riding well. I know Chad [Johnson] is going to be getting in the groove again. [Brock] Sellards – everybody. They’re all just riding so good right now. I can’t say exactly that there is one certain name.