Chad Johnson Gets First AX Win in North Carolina

Shan Moore | February 2, 2009

For the first time in 2009, Babbitt’s Monster Energy Kawasaki found itself on top of the podium as reigning AMA Arenacross Series champion Chad Johnson, of Rhinelander, Wis., won his first race of the season in front of over 10,000 fans at the Greensboro Coliseum in Greensboro, N.C. GPF/Babbitt’s Kawasaki’s Tyler Medaglia, of Kemptville, Ontario, made it a clean sweep for Babbitt’s Sportscenter after winning the AMA Arenacross Lites class.

Coming into the season as a title favorite, Johnson has experienced some ups and downs so far in 2009. Despite having to wait eight rounds to grab his first victory, Johnson still remains in the thick of the season standings and worked hard for his win this weekend.

Spinechillers/Storm Lake Honda’s Nathan Skaggs, of Chillicothe, Ohio, grabbed the early lead and paced the field for the first half of the 25-lap main. Season points leader Jeff Gibson, of Westerville, Ohio, moved his Mahindra Tractors/Tuf Honda to the front of the pack just past halfway and appeared to be on the way to his fourth straight victory. However, Johnson made a run from fourth place to make a last lap pass on Gibson and steal the victory.

“It was a tough night of racing,” said Johnson. “I didn’t get a great start and it was tough to pass all night. I think every move I made was pretty much a block. Once I got to the front I knew I had to make an aggressive move for the win. I came in hot and I knew if I came out of it I had it. It’s been a long season and I really wanted to get a win. I’d like to thank Babbitt’s and Monster Energy and these great Greensboro fans.”

Skaggs brought home the runner-up finish while Makson Construction Suzuki’s Tyler Bright, of Lexington, N.C., garnered a season-best third place finish in front of his hometown crowd. Gibson, who went down on the last lap exchange, dropped to seventh.

In the AMA Arenacross Lites class, Medaglia broke through for his first career Arenacross win, edging out Reynard Modifications Suzuki’s Cory Green, Nowata, Okla., and Foremost Insurance Suzuki’s Jim Neese, of Julian, N.C., who put together a podium finish in front of his family and friends.

Gibson currently holds a 39-point lead in the standings over Skaggs, while Johnson moves into third, 45 points out of the lead.

The AMA Arenacross Series heads to its inaugural round in Tulsa, Okla. and the new BOK Center next weekend. Action kicks off on Saturday, February 7 at 7:30 p.m.

Shan Moore | Contributing Editor

Moore covers all facets of off-road racing for Cycle News – from AMA Supercross and Motocross to GNCC and National Hare Scrambles events.