Local Motor Notes: Woodland’s Steinke to compete in Arenacross at Sleep Train Arena

Published: Thursday, Feb. 6, 2014 - 11:16 pm

Woodland native Gared Steinke said he’ll help pack the seats at Sleep Train Arena on Saturday night for the return of Arenacross after a three-year absence . Arenacross is motocross on a tight dirt track designed to fit over the Sacramento Kings’ floor.

“There’s way more (handle) bar-banging in Arenacross than motocross outdoors,” Steinke said. “People are constantly trying to take you out, and where the field gets scattered after two laps outdoors, indoors in Arenacross it’s much tighter racing.”

And that makes the action more exciting for fans. The entire track is easily viewed from any seat. Steinke said he’ll have about 100 friends and family at the event, and he’ll compete in Ricky Carmichael’s Road to SuperCross division and the West Region Arenacross Lites Class.

Good finishes in each division, or perhaps even a win in front of the hometown fans, would pay enough for Steinke to continue his journey. The 22-year-old is still a privateer, meaning he doesn’t have the monetary support from one of the top factory manufacturers such as Kawasaki, Honda and KTM. So every top finish or contingency dollars he earns on each stop helps fuel the van so he, girlfriend Gwen Lauerman and their dog, Delilah, can get to the next race.

“There are some advantages of being a privateer,” Steinke said. “I can get as much experience as I need, and I can run my own program. I’m making a living competing in Arenacross. That’s hard to do.”

Steinke competed for three seasons in Supercross, from 2010-12. His best finish was 10th in 2011. He said he finished 19th overall in points on the West Coast Supercross series that season. He finished 10th last season in Arenacross, which is considered to be a training level for riders looking to gain a factory ride and compete with the world’s best riders in Supercross during the winter and the Outdoors Nationals in the summer. The annual Hangtown Motocross Classic at Prairie City is part of the Outdoors Nationals. Steinke finished 29th overall in the 250cc division at Hangtown last year.

Saturday’s race will be Steinke’s first Arenacross event in front of his friends and family. He’s 11th in Arenacross points and finished tied for 16th in the just-completed Arenacross Lites East championship. Saturday begins the chase for the Arenacross Lites West title. After Sacramento, the series travels to Nampa, Idaho, and Reno to complete the February schedule. Steinke will be on the road until March 30 for the final round in Salt Lake City.

For more information, go to www.arenacross.com.

Bad start to Pruett’s season

It was the start to the 2014 season Auburn driver Scott Pruett had hoped for two weeks ago in the Rolex 24 at Daytona.

Pruett, along with longtime driving partner Memo Rojas, Jamie McMurray and reigning Indy Lights champion Sage Karam, had to retire their Chip Ganassi-owned No. 01 Ford EcoBoost/Riley about 90 minutes shy of the 24-hour mark due to several incidents with Pruett behind the wheel.

About 90 minutes into the race, Pruett exited his pit too early, leaving a hose attached to the car and clipping a crewman. A penalty for the infraction put the team a lap down. Early the next morning, Pruett crashed in the chicane.

Pruett was trying to become the only driver in the event’s history to win six times. He tied Hurley Haywood in 2013 with five victories.

Mark Billingsley covers local motor sports for The Bee. Reach him at editorwriter@att.net.

Read more articles by Mark Billingsley

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