Team Faith shares many similarities with their competitors in the AMA Amsoil Arenacross Series. Each and every rider spends countless hours not only fine tuning their skill levels, but also getting physically prepared for the rigors of the sport. Each team enters every venue with high hopes of walking away with the victory and improving their position in the points race.
Missing his original flight into Tulsa, Team Faith's Kelly Smith arrived at the BOK Center with only minutes to spare.
Team Faith Rider, Kelly Smith, recently jumped into the fourth spot in the points race in the AMA Amsoil Arenacross series
Team Faith also has another goal that they find equally as important as positions on the podium. As a non-profit multi-faceted ministry, they strive to "impact people who are enthusiastic about moto and action sports."
Of course, there are always uncertainties in the world of racing, but upon recently rolling into the BOK Center at Tulsa, Oklahoma, the drama was more intense than usual for Team Faith. Rider, Jeff Gibson would not be attending the event, and rightfully so. He and his wife, Shannel, had been blessed with a beautiful baby girl just s few days prior. Sitting fourth in the points race and 15 points ahead of the fifth-pace rider, Gibson could afford to spend this valuable time with his wife and first child.
"We knew before the season started that Jeff's wife, Shannel, was pregnant, and the timing was such that he was probably going to miss a round of racing," recalled Team Faith member, Brian O'Rourke. "We are thankful that it happened to be a round that consisted of only one night of racing, rather than two. For our team, family comes before racing. We supported his decision to stay home one-hundred-percent. And as it turned out, he only lost one positioning point, and that was to his teammate, Kelly Smith."
As Gibson was not scheduled to attend the race, Kelly Smith was the only rider scheduled to represent their team. As luck would have it though, the lone team rider's flight out of Detroit was delayed. It was starting to look like a race that had likely been anticipated for months was on the road to disaster.
"Kelly missing his first flight into Tulsa from Grand Rapids was starting out to be one of those weekends," shared O'Rourke. "I saw our friend, Justin Buckalew, walking around in the pits, and I seriously asked if he'd be willing to ride either Kelly's or Jeff's bike if neither showed up! But the airline got Kelly rebooked for the next day (raceday) with an arrival time that still made it possible for him to make at least one of the two practices. As it turned out, the flight was early, and he made it just in time to do both practices, which was good, because Bucky said he was on the tenth step of his twelve-step program to quit racing. And we were making it really hard for him to say no."
With a rider on the premises, Team Faith was geared up and ready to roll. After finishing 12th in practice, Kelly took his first holeshot of the night when the gates dropped, indicating the beginning of the second heat. After leading the pack for about one-half the race, the rider fell into second place, where he would cross the finish line.
Kelly took the holeeshot again in the first main feature, and held the lead for the first lap. But the current AMA Amsoil Arenacross points leader, Tyler Bowers, managed to work his way to the front where he would remain until earning the checkered flag. Managing to stay in front of the remainder of the field, Smith earned Team Faith a second place finish.
After the inversion, the rider was scheduled to start the second main of the night with a seventh gate pick. In spite of another great start, Kelly Smith "got pushed wide into another rider", and fell back into the eighth position. The rider remained eighth throughout a majority of the race, but lost another spot to fellow rider, Zach Ames in the final lap. When the dust had settled, Kelly finished the night sixth overall, not a bad conclusion to a night that started off chaotic at best.
When asked about the team's confidence level, O'Rourke answered, "After Tulsa, Kelly jumped into fourth and Gibby fell only one spot to fifth. So we are gaining confidence with every round of racing. Both guys are dialing in now, and the whole team is working well together. We expect it only to get better."
Referring to their game plan throughout the remainder of the season, O'Rourke continued, "Once the points are reset for the Chase to the Championship, the keys to success are going to be getting great starts and beating Tyler Bowers. The guy is a phenomenal Arenacross racer and at the moment is proving very hard to beat."
O'Rourke and the rest of the crew are also aware that maintenance will play a significant role in their overall success. "Maintaining our race vehicles is extremely important," he ensured. "It can make the difference in winning and losing."
That in mind Team Faith strives to keep their engines contaminant free. "We are thankful for sponsors like K&N, who makes great products that stand up to the rigors of the high intensity racing that we participate in. We've been using K&N filters since we started racing in 1994," explained O'Rourke.
"K&N makes the highest quality products, hands down. In fact, I think we drive our K&N rep., Johnny Jump, crazy with how often we change our oil filters. Truth is, we probably do not need to change them as much as we do. But to my knowledge, we have never had a mechanical failure due to a K&N product.."
With a good idea of what it will take to end the season in the winners circle, Team Faith is focused and eager for each and every race lurking down the road. But the crew is also eager to reach each and every spectator and fan.
"Fans can expect us to be competitive for the remainder of the season," explained O'Rourke. Both Kelly Smith and Jeff Gibson are seasoned veterans of Arenacross, and they know what they need to do to win. And they both want to win! The team crew is solid, and we have our routine down. So I don't see any reason why we can't go out and perform to the level we are capable of and come out on top on any given weekend. We are all working hard, and we should be right there in the mix week in and week out."
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