FASTHOUSE PRESENTS MXA’S MID-WEEK REPORT BY JOHN BASHER

July 31, 2014
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Fasthouse represents a lifestyle that is energized and full of passion for motorcycles and motorcycle racing. The Fasthouse mission is to represent that passion to its fullest; as designers of apparel, racewear and hardware, as promoters and creators of events and parties, and always, as the purveyors of good times. Find out more at www.thefasthouse.com.

PHOTO OF THE WEEK

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Look at this beauty in all of its glory. We rode the 2015 Honda CRF250 this past week for the new bike launch. In the coming months we’ll put it through the wringer and get an accurate representation of all that is the CRF250. For now you’ll have to be satisfied with the bike basking in the glorious SoCal light. Or, if that’s not enough, take a look at our video on the 2015 Honda CRF250, which you can see below.

VIDEO OF THE WEEK: FIRST RIDE OF THE 2015 SUZUKI RM-Z450

WHAT WE DID YESTERDAY: 2015 SUZUKI RM-Z450 INTRO

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I’ll be the first to admit that MXA editors are spoiled. I’m not ashamed of being pampered, invited to faraway lands at the expense of motorcycle manufacturers, where I stay in five-star hotels, munch on exotic cheeses and ride perfectly prepped private tracks. For every bike intro I attend I spend countless hours in front of the computer, typing my life away and sifting through photos from my grand adventures. Don’t cry for me–I doubt that you pity me anyway (and you shouldn’t). Days like yesterday are a nice reminder that being an editor at MXA is rad.

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Sean Kranyak return to the MXA fols after going off to college. Sean felt at home on the 2015 Suzuki RM-Z450.

What happened on Tuesday? We rode at one of the pre-eminent motocross facilities in California–Zaca Station, located just north of Buellton. The dirt was primo. We slung our legs over the 2015 Suzuki RM-Z450 in the company of James Stewart, Ivan Tedesco, Weston Peick and Carey Hart. It was awesome!

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The RM-Z450 handled very well once we dialed in the Showa air fork and found a balance between the front and rear.

Though this was our first day on the Showa SFF Triple Air Chamber fork-equipped Suzuki RM-Z450, we acted like it was our only opportunity to ride the new machine. Between Daryl Ecklund, photo rider Sean “Maniac” Kranyak and myself, we kept the engine humming. I’ll withhold my opinions of the 2015 Suzuki RM-Z450 until a later date, but I will say a few things. (1) The Showa SFF TAC fork is better than last year’s Showa Separate Function Fork. (2) The bike is much easier to start than in years past. (3) Suzuki dropped a few pounds off the RM-Z450. Very nice. It feels good in flight. (4) In my personal opinion, this is the best stock RM-Z450 that I’ve ever ridden. It takes some tweaking to get the suspension and handling correct, but once on point this bike is a joy to ride.

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This puppy has some spunk off idle. We like the optional mapping couplers, which change the engine’s personality.

Oh, and as previously mentioned, there was some star power circling the Zaca Station track. Take a gander at some photos I got of the A-listers as they burned in lines.

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James Stewart flew to Zaca Station in a helicopter. Here he flies over California airspace on his Suzuki.

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Ivan Tedesco showed up at Zaca to confirm his retirement announcement from last week. “Hot Sauce” hasn’t lost a beat since joining the ex-racer crowd.

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Hart & Huntington boss man, Carey Hart, still looks so smooth and fluid on a bike. He put in a few motos before heading out to Sturgis.

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Weston Peick is a beast on a bike. He rides with such aggression that the ground trembles underneath. He’s a 6.7 on the Richter scale.

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James Stewart.

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Ivan Tedesco won the unofficial Zaca Station whip contest. Style for days.

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Carey Hart.

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James Stewart.

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Ivan Tedesco.

MXA FIRST RIDE: 2015 HONDA CRF250

MXA VIDEO: 2015 HUSQVARNA TC125 IN ACTION

Listen as Daryl Ecklund winds out the 2015 Husky TC125 in Sweden

MINI-VIEW: JESSY NELSON

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Troy Lee Designs Honda rider Jessy Nelson has been quietly making waves in the 250 class since turning Pro, but it was in the first moto of Lakewood this year when he made a very loud splash. Nelson grabbed the holeshot and led until the waning laps of the moto. He served notice that his time for winning was imminent. Although the SoCal native would have a minor tipover and lose first, he was able to regroup for second in the moto. His 2-9 moto finishes earned him fourth overall for the day. We tracked down the unassuming and friendly 20-year-old, who is now ranked ninth in the 250 Championship, to learn more about him. You may be surprised to learn of the adversity that Jessy has overcome to live his dreams.

By Jim Kimball

MXA: Jessy, talk about your first professional race, which was at Hangtown in 2012.  

Jessy: Yeah, the Troy Lee Designs team and I made a last-minute decision for me to turn Pro just before the start of the outdoor series. It was literally the week before Hangtown when I made the decision to race the following weekend. The team had some injured riders, so they agreed that it made sense for me to line up. It was funny, as I had not really been doing any serious training, but wanted to get that Troy Lee Designs Honda out there to see how it would go. I had three crashes in that first moto, and a crash in the first corner of the second moto. Then I remember at Freestone I got the holeshot the first moto and ended up seventh. I started up front in the second moto, too, and took eighth. That gave me seventh overall for the day. That was only my second Pro motocross race, so I felt pretty good about that! I did pretty good the rest of 2012 and got the AMA Rookie of the Year award. In 2013 I missed almost half the year due to injuries, and it took me a long time to get back to where I was.

You seem pretty equally adept at Supercross and motocross.

I like them both pretty much the same; especially racing the 250 West Coast series where you don’t really have to travel much, and the weather is always nice. Overall, Supercross is just a cool environment. But I love the outdoors, because it’s where it all began. Coming into Supercross this year was tough as I was injured, but I figured that I would race as much as I could and learn from it. Hopefully the 2015 Supercross series will be much better. As an amateur it is harder to prepare for Supercross because you don’t always have access to Supercross tracks. Still, I probably should have tried harder to find ways to be more prepared for the 2013 Supercross series. When I started riding Supercross late in 2012 to be ready for Anaheim 1 2013, it was really my first time riding supercross. It would have been nice when I was younger to be riding at Supercross tracks to get more used to it.

Can you please tell us about your thumb injury?

Near the end of 2006 I had a freak accident when I crashed. I got my left hand caught in between my sprocket and chain and severed my left thumb. I had a couple surgeries and some serious blood transfusions while spending two weeks in the hospital. The surgeons tried to reattach it a few times, but they just couldn’t do it. It was amputated; since then I have just had to deal with it. It was pretty tough on me at the time. Being a young kid, it was really hard. But now I have become more used to it. It does make it difficult to ride, but I just deal with it and do the best that I can.

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That’s devastating thing to happen for an amateur looking forward to turning Pro.

For a little while I did wonder if I would have to quit racing, but I didn’t want to stop. Life is a roller coaster and you have to go with the ups and downs. It took me about four months to get used to riding after the amputation, but it’s now become somewhat second nature with the help of a prosthetic thumb. I do get arm pump with that arm, but it’s just part of it.

Let’s move to your first moto finish at Lakewood, where you were leading for much of the race. That had to have been quite a rush! 

That was a great moto for me. I finally got a good start. It’s been a bad year for my starts. I think that I finally showed people what I can do, and actually showed myself, too! It taught me that I can be up front, and definitely motivated me to try to get a win. That moto was probably my standout ride so far, but I also feel that I have had some other pretty strong rides by coming up through the pack in other motos. Both at Glen Helen and Hangtown, I had some good charges from near the back of the pack. I knew that I had that Lakewood ride in me.

The 250 class is comprised of pretty fast and talented riders.

I think so, too. If you don’t start near the front then it’s going to be pretty difficult to get a moto win. Everyone is so fast, and we are all so close in lap times. Even if you struggle in practice or qualifying, we all seem to be able to pick it up in the motos. This class is a unique mix of veterans, newer guys like me, and first year rookies. Everyone is going fast and trying to always get better. All 40 riders at the gate are fit and very talented. The tracks also seem to be changing a bit to where they are all somewhat similar in terms of soil and terrain, which makes it more equal.

I understand that you have been staying in Florida for a while now. How has that gone?

It’s gone great. I have been training and doing motos in Florida recently with Ken Roczen, Adam Cianciarulo, and Aldon Baker. Kenny had wanted someone to ride with, and I wanted to be out east to get used to the heat. My team manager is friends with those guys and the opportunity just came up, so why not jump on it? I like it a lot, and it’s been very cool. I am not officially signed on with Aldon; I still have my trainer, Brian Lopes, in California. I’ve just been in Florida since the series turned eastward. It worked out this way. I got asked if I would want to move to Florida for a while and of course I said yes!

You have been with Troy Lee Designs for a while now. How does your future look with the team?

It’s a great place to be. I signed with the team back in 2011 and have been with them ever since. I am currently signed with them through 2015, and hopefully after that. It’s a great group of people here and an awesome team. I really want to see this team go far, and I believe in everyone involved. It’s not your average team that is plain and bland. These guys make it unique and fun. Hopefully I am also making them happy and will get them their first championship one of these days. I know that I can be a title contender next year, hands down! If I can stay off the ground a little more I think that I can surprise a lot of people.

WASHOUGAL BY THE NUMBERS

Do you like statistics? I withheld the pie charts, and have instead provided facts and figures of interest.

250 Class:

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Marvin Musquin put on a clinic this past weekend.

11.934 seconds – Cumulative gap by which Marvin Musquin won by at Washougal. Marvin had a 8.3 second advantage over fellow Frenchman, Christophe Pourcel, in the first moto. The margin was much slimmer in the second moto, at 3.634 seconds, ahead of Blake Baggett.

19 – The amount of laps that Marvin Musquin led this past weekend.

0 – The amount of laps that Marvin Musquin led the field previous to Washougal.

1 – Musquin’s win marked the first time that KTM emerged victorious at Washougal in the 250 class.

5 – Racers in the 250 class that have won a moto this year…Jeremy Martin, Blake Baggett, Cooper Webb, Marvin Musquin and Jason Anderson. Christophe Pourcel and Justin Bogle look to join that prestigious list, but there are only six motos left. Pourcel’s best opportunity comes at Unadilla next weekend, while Bogle would seem to gel with the wide openness and big jumps at Utah.

43 – Jeremy Martin’s point advantage over second place in the 250 point standings, Cooper Webb. Only Webb, Baggett, Musquin, Justin Bogle, Pourcel and Jason Anderson still have a mathematical chance of winning the title. Cole Seely (8th) and everyone else has been eliminated from the hunt.

250 Manufacturer Representation:

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Blake Baggett was the top placing Kawasaki rider at Washougal.

1. Honda – 16 racers

2. Yamaha – 9 racers

3. Kawasaki – 8 racers

4. KTM – 6 racers

5. Suzuki – 1 racer

* Privateer Alexander Nagy, from Illinois, was the sole Suzuki rider at Washougal. He went 28-20 for 21st overall.

450 Class:

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Ken Roczen is in the points lead…for now. Will it last?

4 – The number of riders in the 450 class that have scored points in every single moto. The short list includes Ken Roczen, Ryan Dungey, Trey Canard and Brett Metcalfe. Not surprisingly, those are the top four in the point standings.

5 – Racers in the 450 class that have won a moto this year…Ken Roczen, Ryan Dungey, James Stewart, Josh Grant and Eli Tomac. Realistically there’s only one name missing from the list–Trey Canard.

12 – The number of riders that have qualified for every single 450 National this year. I’m sending positive vibes out to privateer Johnny Moore, who has qualified for every National but hasn’t cracked the top 20…yet. If you see the #140 at the next three rounds then cheer him on as loudly as you can. This is the type of guy that makes the sport as awesome as it is. He keeps grinding it out in search of moto glory. I personally hope that he gets it, because it’s obvious that he’s a hard worker. Go get ‘em, Johnny! Props to his sponsors–Lewis Racing, Engine Ice and Brookhaven Honda, for backing a true privateer.

12 – The amount of points that Ken Roczen has lost to Ryan Dungey since Millville. Roczen currently holds a 14 point advantage over his teammate for the 450 National Championship. These is the most points that Kenny has lost since taking the points lead after Hangtown. There are three round remaining.

3 – There are only three 450 racers still mathematically eligible to win the outdoor title–Ken Roczen, Ryan Dungey and Trey Canard.

14 – The points gap between James Stewart, currently in fifth place, and Eli Tomac, sitting in ninth place. Josh Grant, Andrew Short and Weston Peick are separated by a mere point.

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Eli Tomac has been averaging around a second place finish since joining the 450 Nationals.

21.2 – Average moto point earning for Eli Tomac since joining the 450 Nationals at Muddy Creek. Tomac has finished third or better in eight motos, scoring 4th place finishes the other two times. Hypothetically, if Tomac started the series at Glen Helen and kept the same consistency throughout nine rounds he would be sitting at 381 points–good enough for third and only 27 points out of the lead.

450 Manufacturer Representation:

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Brett Metcalfe was one of six racers flying the green flag at Washougal.

1. KTM – 11 racers

2. Honda – 10 racers

3. Yamaha – 7 racers

4. Kawasaki – 6 racers

4. Suzuki – 6 racers

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ZACH BELL PHOTO GALLERY

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I don’t favor particular riders. It wouldn’t be fair to our readers. Giving excessive ink to a specific athlete is unconscionable. To me it’s plain as day to see when one press outlet is giving love to a racer in order to stay in his good graces, but I don’t care if I’m on James Stewart’s or Ryan Dungey’s cell phone favorites list. That’s less drama I have to deal with.

Thus, it is with hesitation that I post a photo gallery on one rider – particularly one specific individual who has had a rough go of it as a professional and could use the publicity. I do not have any favoritism toward Geico Honda’s Zach Bell. In fact, I’ve hardly ever spoken to him. What I do recall of Bell is his massive crash at Unadilla two years ago off the Skyshot and the unbelievable crash at the Dallas Supercross last year. Those aren’t very good reasons to be remembered.

However, Bell was easily one of the most electrifying racers at the Millville National two weekends ago. His results don’t show it (10-12 for 11th overall), but Bell’s riding style around the Spring Creek circuit offered up a plethora of Kodak moments. It’s not often that one rider varies so much in style from everyone else around him, but Zach Bell was in a league of his own. Did his scrubs shave valuable time off his laps? Not exactly, judging by the lap time charts, but boy was he awesome to watch! So I present you a pictorial perspective of young Zach Bell cutting lines and scrubbing knobbies around Millville.

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ALPINESTARS RELEASES 2015 GEAR LINE

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Press release: Featuring an exciting new range of gloves, jerseys and pants, Alpinestars MX apparel comes in unique designs and eye-catching colorways and is aggressively styled to appeal to both adults and youths. Incorporating advanced materials and construction technologies, the new apparel has been rigorously tested by the world’s best athletes such as Justin Barcia, Eli Tomac and Jeffrey Herlings in order to ensure quality and performance benefits for Alpinestars’ customers. For more information, please visit http://www.alpinestars.com/mx/2015-line

COBRA MOTO ANNOUNCES NATIONAL DEVELOPMENT TEAM

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Cole Kish.

Press release: When you’re working to pick the best kids on dirt bikes you have to remember the late bloomers. Guys like Jeremy McGrath and John Dowd, for instance, didn’t take motocross seriously until their teens. And for Cobra Moto, which starts working with kids as young as four, there’s been a lot of talented kids racing the American-made minicycles over the years that have, for one reason or another, gone unnoticed. With that in mind Lakehill Trackside Racing’s Doug Cochran approached Cobra Moto President Sean Hilbert this past January with a plan – a plan geared towards developing a number of the not-quite-there-yet young racers into possible talent for Cobra’s prestigious National team.

Dubbed the Cobra Moto National Development Team, Cochran’s Lakehill Trackside Racing program has recruited the seven best up-and-coming minicycles racers in the nation and given them support at the national level at races such as Mill Creek (Ala.), Oak Hill (Texas) and Freestone (Texas). “We often bypass kids who, at the time, weren’t ready for national competition,” said Cochran. “So we basically came up with the Cobra Moto National Development Team along the lines of a minor league baseball program.”

Cochran brings with him a wealth of experience at Loretta’s. His son, Casey, is a Cobra Moto National Team racer and the defending champion in the 4-6 50cc class. Casey will be on one of the 29 Cobras in the 7-8 class (of 42 bikes total) at Loretta’s, nine of which have Lakehill Trackside Racing support! “I can’t begin to explain what a positive impact Doug and his team at Lakehill Trackside Racing have had on the Cobra Moto program this year,” said Hilbert. “Much like Cobra Moto’s mantra, the Cochrans have dedicated their business to support the Cobra Moto family, assisting kids who will no doubt be the front-runners for the Cobra Moto National Team positions in the coming years.”

Working with engine and suspension specialist Josh Rogers, who owns the Houston-based EBR Performance, Cochran and his wife, Amy, have dedicated their time and much of their business resources this year to Cobra Moto’s National Development Team. Utilizing Cobra Moto’s dealer support network, Cochran was able to sign seven kids (below) – all of whom have qualified for the 2014 Rocky Mountain ATV/MC AMA Amateur National Motocross Championship at Loretta Lynn’s ranch in Hurricane Mills, Tenn.

Edgar Lewis….Virden, IL…65cc 7-9
Chris Sweeney…Jackson, NJ…65cc 7-9
Collin Allen…Haslet, TX…50cc 7-8
Brock Walker…Cleburne, TX…50cc 7-8
Cole Kish…Newport, MI…50cc 7-8
Kyler Rhom…Charlotte, NC…50cc 4-6
Hayden Cline…Converse, TX…50cc 4-6

Up next for Cobra: 2014 Rocky Mountain ATV/MC AMA Amateur National Motocross Championship at Loretta Lynn’s ranch in Hurricane Mills, Tenn., July 27-Augs. 2.

MINI-VIEW: ANTHONY RODRIGUEZ

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Anthony Rodriguez.

Unfortunately you may not have seen much of Yamalube Star Yamaha’s Anthony Rodriguez this summer, but if you did, you no doubt saw the #267 looking fast. “A-Rod” made a big impact at his very first AMA Supercross by running in the top five for much of the main before being sidelined with a crash. He would have more impressive moments, coupled with equally impressive crashes. We had a chance to track down the friendly Venezuelan last week to learn more about him.

By Jim Kimball

MXA: Anthony, let’s begin with a little background on you.

Anthony: Well, I’ve spent the past ten years racing in Venezuela with about 250 other riders racing the Nationals there. Back home I began winning all the races, and my dad and I decided to move to America. We moved to MTF (Millsaps Training Facility, in Cairo, Georgia), where my dad stayed with me for about six months before returning home. I’ve been here by myself ever since. That was back when I was about 14 years old. I did all of the big amateur races like Loretta Lynn’s, and even raced the MXdN for my country once.

It must have been a big adjustment living here all by yourself.

Yeah, I had to learn a lot! I had to cook for myself and do all my own work on my motorcycle. I didn’t have a mechanic. Once in a while I had some help if I was doing a big job on my dirt bike, but I did most of it by myself. I stripped a lot of bolts!

How did your ride with Yamalube Star Racing Yamaha come about?

In 2012 I was racing for a different team, and I was doing really well. One day when I was driving back from a regional race Bobby Regan called me. Then between Colleen (Millsaps), myself, and Bobby Regan we made a deal. So last year I was doing the big amateur races with Star Yamaha before doing Loretta Lynn’s and the last four AMA Nationals. But just before that I injured my ACL and meniscus and was out injured for four months.

I recall that when you began Supercross earlier this year that you immediately showed some speed.

The Dallas round was my first Supercross and was I running top three for a while before making a bobble and dropping down to fourth. But then I went off the track and hit a Tuff Block and got a minor concussion. I recovered from that and came back at Atlanta. Again I was running up front but crashed and broke my collarbone, which set me back for another month. So I started preparing for the outdoors out in California. At Glen Helen I was near the top ten, and had a few little problems. In the second moto start someone hit me from behind and I ended up getting another concussion, which put me out for three weeks. I came back at Muddy Creek, which turned out to be the first Pro race that I actually completed. Now I have been just trying to get as much seat time as possible for next year. My fitness has been good, as has my speed. I just need some things to go my way.

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How is it to be on the same team with the guys who sit first and second in points–Jeremy Martin and Cooper Webb?

That makes it really cool for me. I used to race Cooper in the amateurs. We battled a lot, and I used to beat some of the time. It’s great to see him do as well as he has, because I feel I can be up front, too. Unfortunately I don’t get to ride with the guys during the week, as we live in different states, but at the races we can talk. I learn a lot from them, and knowing that this bike is so good gives me a lot of confidence. It’s definitely been a big improvement. This bike is amazing! Even all the magazines love the new bike. This is definitely the best bike that I have ever ridden.

Are you still staying at MTF?

Yeah, I feel that being at MTF is the best for me right now. We have a lot of fast riders there, and every day is like a race day. Joey Savagty is there, so it’s great to ride with other very fast guys. We line up at the gate and do our motos. It’s just like a race!

NEW PRODUCT: RACE TECH HOLESHOT DEVICE

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Press release: Get the jump on your competition straight out of the gate with a double-button Race Tech Holeshot Device.  The double button design provides an optimal setting for varying soil conditions without the hassle of changing fork guards or re-mounting your starting device.  The large latching area makes for easy setting while a mahined lip and extra large stainless screws keep the device securely in place.

- Available for most mini bikes and big bikes

- CNC machined from aircraft grade aluminum

- Easy install template tool included

- Made in the USA

- Retail Price: $99.99

For more information about Race Tech’s products, seminars and rider support program, please visit racetech.com or call our friendly sales staff at: (951) 279-6655. To apply for Race Tech Rider Support, click here (http://www.racetech.com/page/id/26).

2015 AMSOIL ARENACROSS SCHEDULE ANNOUNCED

Find out where you can see all of the action

Jan. 10-11…US Bank Arena…Cincinnati

Jan. 16- 18…Van Andel Arena…Grand Rapids, Mich.

Jan. 23-25…World Arena…Colorado Springs, Colo.

Jan. 31- Feb. 1…Bridgestone Arena…Nashville, Tenn.

Feb. 6-8…Mohegan Sun Arena…Wilkes-Barre, Pa.

Feb. 21-22…Tampa Bay Times Forum…Tampa, Fla.

Feb. 28- Mar.1…Sprint Center…Kansas City, Mo.

Mar. 6-8…Mid-America Center…Council Bluffs, Iowa

Mar. 13-15…Landers Center…Southaven, Miss.

Mar. 21-22…Smoothie King Center…New Orleans

Mar. 28-29…Frank Erwin Center…Austin, Texas

April 11-12…Spokane Arena…Spokane, Wash.

April 18-19…Tacoma Dome…Tacoma, Wash.

April 25-26…Save Mart Center…Fresno, Calif.

May 1-3…South Point Arena…Las Vegas, Nev.

For more information on the 2015 AMSOIL Arenacross season, and to purchase tickets, log on to www.Arenacross.com.

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Photos by Pro Circuit, John Basher, KTM, Scott Mallonee, Geico Honda, Cole Kish photo courtesy of Jessica Tenhagen

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