Things to Watch For at the Sarnia Arenacross this Weekend
By Billy Rainford
Photos by John Meaney
As we head into Round 3 of the 2019 Rockstar Energy Triple Crown Arenacross Series there are a few things to keep an eye on. We’re coming back from a 1-week break for the Easter Weekend and now it’s time to get back to racing that will take us right through the summer months and into fall.
Here are a some things to keep your eye on as we get rolling at Progressive Auto Sales Arena in Sarnia, Ontario, this Saturday:
1) Will we see more Pro riders sign up to take a shot at the main events?
It’s no secret that Ontario has the highest population concentration of any of the Canadian provinces. Will this translate into more Pro riders signing up and taking a shot at making it into the main events this weekend in Sarnia? Traditionally, Arenacross has been a hard sell in the ‘Keep it Beautiful/Yours to Discover/Open for Business’ province. Many have tried in the past, but turnout has always been an issue.
However, with the re-energized excitement of the 3-part Triple Crown series, we should really see more riders wanting to be a part of these final 2 rounds of Arenacross.
We lose the 2 Cycle North riders, Collin Jurin and Nick Schmidt, as well as Brock Leitner this weekend, so let’s hope some more riders show up to fill their spots.
Let’s also hope we see qualifiers and LCQ’s this Saturday at the arena.
2) Will we see more Amateur riders trying to make the evening program?
Just like in the previous question, the answer should lie in the sheer number of riders in Ontario. If you are a racer and don’t take the opportunity to test yourself at this type of racing, what are you doing?
Let’s also hope we see full gates being whittled down to main events in every Amateur class this week.
3) Will Round 1 winner #296 Ryder Floyd bounce back after a tough Round 2 in Calgary?
When Texas native Ryder Floyd showed up and took the 250 class win at Round 1 in Abbotsford, BC, many were left wondering who this rider was and whether or not it was a fluke win.
Ryder wasn’t able to back up his success at Round 2 in Calgary, after being banged around on the track and suffering some bad luck.
He’ll be fired up to show himself and everyone else that he’s here to win, so watch for the #296 to try and make another statement this week in Sarnia.
He decided to forego the 450 class and concentrate on the 250 class in Calgary, so let’s see if this restructured strategy pays off this week.
4) Can #46 Marco Cannella duplicate his podium performance?
Last round, #46 Marco Cannella seemed to come out of his Arenacross shell and pushed his way past some riders to land up in 2nd position on the podium. Can he do it a gain this week?
The other two favourites in the series struggled in Calgary and Tyler Medaglia and Luke Renzland weren’t factors in the main event. That likely won’t happen again in Sarnia.
Marco will have his work cut out for him to repeat his podium performance, but, like we always say, confidence takes you a long way in this sport, so we’ll see.
5) Can #19 Dylan Wright back up his success in Calgary?
#19 Dylan Wright has always had the speed and style to succeed at the top level. Unfortunately, he seems to be too exciting for his own good at times. Well, Dylan comes into 2019 another year older with more experience under his belt and it showed with a solid showing and win in Calgary.
Dylan will likely use this momentum and feed off its confidence-building effect and be one to watch again at round 3. Having said that, we can expect the 2 other series favourites, Tyler Medaglia and Luke Renzland, to have something to say about it.
6) Will #1 Cole Thompson win his hometown race?
Defending Triple Crown champion Cole Thompson is from just outside Sarnia in a town called Brigden.
We interviewed Cole for this week’s Frid’Eh Update intro and he said he only feels pressure at this race because he doesn’t want to create a bad memory of a race in front of his hometown fans. He should be tough to beat on his home turf!
7) Will there be any bad blood between Thompson and #54 Phil Nicoletti?
In Calgary, 450 main winner #54 Phil Nicoletti commented that he didn’t think anyone wanted to “start a blood war” that early in the season. However, when we spoke with Cole Thompson this week, he told us that Phil wasn’t happy with him last year after his Colton Facciotti‘s altercation. He also said that Phil rode up to him in Calgary after the checkered flag and said that although “we don’t get along,” good race.
These two should be ones to keep an eye on throughout the night in Sarnia as well as the entire 2019 racing season.
8) Will #2 Matt Goerke join the top 2 riders for a good show?
#2 Matt Goerke showed he had the speed to win every time he was on the track in Calgary, but some bad luck took away his chance to battle bar to bar with Nicoletti and Thompson.
If things turn around for the Florida rider, he should make this a 3-way battle for the wins all night at Progressive Auto Sales Arena.
9) Can anyone else join these top 3 in on the 450 podium?
At this point, the answer appears to be no, but we’ve got a couple riders who should be getting closer.
#12 Cade Clason almost got an Arenacross win last season before getting passed late in the main by Cole Thompson. He’s got a ton of indoor experience and should be able to mix it up with them with a good start.
#3 Shawn Maffenbeier showed great improvement from week 1 to week 2. He had a disappointing 9th in Abbotsford, but came back to finish just off the podium in 4th in Calgary.
His best lap time was still about 1/5 a second off Nicoletti’s at the front so he knows what he’s got to work on.
10) If you can’t be there, have you got the Two Wheels TV app yet?
I wasn’t able to be at the races in person out west, but I watched it on the Two Wheels TV app. The show was well done and the on-air crew kept the action moving along nicely.
You can never beat the experience of being there in person to see what’s happening off camera, but if you aren’t able to be in Sarnia, the app worked very well and you should check it out and mirror it over to your TV as you watch from the comfort of your couch.
11) Will the Sarnia locals fill the 5500-person arena to see their hometown hero?
Everything is set up to bring the hometown fans something to be excited for, but will they show up to witness it? I think we will see almost every seat filled this week and it should make for an electric atmosphere.
See you there!