Saddlemen

10 Questions with AX Championship Leader Zach Ames

| 14 February 2014 2:21 pm

Rider Interview: Zach Ames
AMSOIL Arenacross Series

Courtesy of Feld Motor Sports
Photos by ShiftOne Photography
AURORA, IL, FEB. 14, 2014

Babbitt’s Monster Energy/ AMSOIL Kawasaki presented by Maxxis rider Zach Ames has been the most consistent racer through the first six rounds of this AMSOIL Arenacross, featuring Ricky Carmichael’s Road to Supercross, season. As a result, he sits atop the Arenacross-class standings, even though he has just one overall win in the 2014 season.

With the added depth of talent in the championship, consistency has become paramount, and no rider has done a better job of being consistent than Ames. In 18 main events, Ames has averaged a finish of 4.1 and has been on the podium nine times. Even on nights when he’s experienced adversity, Ames has minimized the damage to remain atop the standings for the bulk of the season. As the Race to the Championship looms in two weeks, Ames is in an enviable position, and if he continues his consistent ways, he very well could claim his first AMSOIL Arenacross title.

So far in this AMSOIL Arenacross season, Zach Ames has only won one main event and one overall victory…

So far in this AMSOIL Arenacross season, Zach Ames has only won one main event and one overall victory…

What is the toughest part about leading the points chase?
The toughest thing about leading the points is that now I have a huge target on my back. People are gunning for you in every corner because you have the red plate.

Your consistency has been impressive this season. Considering how many riders – including yourself – have had some up-and-down nights, what has been the biggest key to keeping yourself at the front of the field?
The biggest key is to not get worked up when something happens. There is a lot of action happening at all times out there, so there is no time to break. The laps aren’t very long and the races don’t last long, so I have to pass whoever is ahead of me. I worked real hard this year with not settling in a groove and to just keep moving forward.

The competition this season is tougher. What adjustments have you had to make in order to deal with the added depth of talent?
Yeah, there is a lot of new guys coming in and having some good rides. I just have to buckle down during the week, training and riding, and just do my program. I feel what Tyler [Bowers] and I have going on is good.

Ironically, you have just one overall win and one main-event win this season. Is that how tough it’s been to win this season?
Yeah, the numbers don’t say “win,” but I’ve been up front basically every race. And I feel that most of the problems with me not winning have come from the inversions between main events.

Do you feel that having your consistency outweigh your wins allows you to fly under the radar this year a bit? Do you feel like this could work to your advantage once the Race to the Championship starts?
I do feel like I’m under the radar a bit, but when the Race to the Championship starts, there’s no replacement for wins. You have to win because everyone restarts in the top 10 and only five points separate. So you have to knock out some wins fast.

…but, due to his consistency, he nevertheless still holds the points lead.

…but, due to his consistency, he nevertheless still leads the points chase.

You and Tyler Bowers are great friends off the track, and you train together. Does that work to your advantage on race weekends, being the top two riders in the series?
Yeah, I feel that our program is above all the rest of the competitors’, and we are mentally and physically prepared each weekend, night in and night out. We work really well together.

You were the early points leader in the Race to the Championship last season but ultimately finished third in the end. What did you learn from that experience that you have applied this season and will apply once the Race to the Championship begins?
I learned that you can’t have a bad race in the Race to the Championship. There’s only four rounds left, and you need every point you can get.

What has been the most challenging thing for you this season?
The most challenging thing for me this season is dealing with the tracks. We prepare on some really difficult and highly technical tracks, so adjusting our motorcycle to the track conditions when it isn’t always as tough has been hard.

With two rounds remaining until the Race to the Championship begins, how do you plan to approach this weekend in Nampa and next weekend in Reno?
I am going to approach these next two weekends the same as any other weekend: I need to win. That’s why we’re all here doing it. We want to win. If I do what I need to do and win, then the points will be there. I just have to get my job done.

Who will be your toughest competitors over those final four rounds when the Race to the Championship begins?
There are a couple guys who are going to be tough. Obviously, defending champion Tyler Bowers will be tough. Mike McDade will be there. Cory Green is turning it up there lately. My other teammate Colt Nichols, once he finds his groove, he will be battling for wins. There are a few guys out there that will be tough.

This weekend’s seventh-round action from Nampa, Idaho, begins Saturday at 9 p.m. ET. Also, the 2014 AMSOIL Arenacross season will debut on Fox Sports 1 on Sunday, February 16, at 11 a.m. EST.

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Category: Arenacross, Interviews, National, POV, Riders, Riders All, Riders' POV

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