A.J. Catanzaro AMA Arenacross Interview

**AMA Arenacross Series Interview of the Week: GPF/Babbitt's Kawasaki Rookie A.J. Catanzaro


AURORA, Ill. (March 10, 2010) - While the premier AMA Arenacross class has grabbed a lot of the headlines for the 2010 AMA Arenacross Series, a young up-and-coming rookie is making a name for himself in the AMA Arenacross Lites Western Regional Championship. GPF/Babbitt's Kawasaki's A.J. Catanzaro has been a bright spot in the entry-level class and looks to inch closer to the Western Regional title this weekend from Council Bluffs, Iowa's Mid America Center.

Last weekend, Catanzaro dominated both nights of action in Reno, grabbing the holeshot on each night en route to leading all 18 laps of each evening's main event and sweeping the ninth round of the season. The pair of victories also gave the AMA Arenacross Series rookie his third win in a row and a commanding 25-point lead in the standings with just two rounds remaining.

We caught up with 16-year old A.J. to get his thoughts on his stellar rookie season.

A.J., you've had a pretty incredible year. Probably one that's better than you would have thought coming into the season. Did you ever expect to be in a position to win a title as a rookie?
I wanted to think I could. I came into the season wanting to win a championship but I really had no idea what to expect. I'm definitely really happy with how I've been doing but I definitely didn't expect it. I was hoping to get some top fives and consistent rides, but I didn't think I'd be the guy to beat.

At only 16 years of age, you are one of the youngest if not the youngest competitors in the AMA Arenacross Series. Coming into this level of competition with virtually no experience, what do you think has helped you adapt so well?
I've always been more of a technical kind of rider with supercross tracks and stuff like that. I think supercross is where I'm going to be making my money in the future. But I don't know. I think it's just more of my riding style than the outdoors stuff where you're wide open and kind of hanging off the bike. I'm more of a Kevin Windham kind of rider where I'm dialed in and riding smart.

**Has Arenacross always been a stepping stone in your plan to become a pro?
**Originally, my plan was to try and jump into supercross but with the rule now that you need to be 17 this season and 18 starting next season in order to compete, it kind of put me in a tough spot since I'm so young. I was just over riding at (Georgia Practice Facility) and Josh Woods saw me riding and asked if I wanted to be on the team. I figured it'd be a great way to get some experience and some exposure as well.

**As a part of the GPF program, what kind of role have the Woods family played in preparing you to compete at the professional level?
**They've been huge. Just having Josh get me out to all the races has been awesome and giving me the chance to ride at his place has been a huge advantage because I've gotten to ride with a lot of fast people. I'm just getting a lot of experience under my belt at a young age so it's definitely cool.

What were your expectations coming into the season being it is your first time racing at the pro level and in a discipline that's probably unfamiliar to you?
I really didn't know what to expect. Like I said, I wanted to be a top five guy even though I had no idea how hard or easy that would be. It was really hard to tell until I raced the first few rounds. Then I realized that I could win if I put my head down and got some good starts. Now I've proven I can win.

You won your first career race in one of the Eastern Regional Championship races. What did competing in those races do to help you prepare for racing out on the West Coast?
It definitely built my confidence up. I got my first win at Youngstown and that was the last East Coast race before the West Coast started up again. It was just a good experience. Originally, my plan was to race East Coast, but it was Josh Woods' decision for me to race the West Coast rounds. I'm definitely glad he made that choice.
You and your teammate Dano Aulsaybrook have done very well this season. Has it been helpful to have him up there as a teammate and be able to feed off him as you try to get faster every week?**
I think Dano and I are definitely the two guys to beat. Dano's had a bit more of an inconsistent year but speed wise he's definitely right up there. He's just got to be a little bit more consistent. But being able to practice with him definitely helps out a lot because we push each other. I definitely think we're the two to beat.

When did everything start clicking for you this season?
You know, even though I got my first win at Youngstown, I think it was Fresno. I won my heat race, which was my first one, and then I went on to lead all the laps and win the main (event). It was then that I realized what I need to do. I got my holeshots down and got comfortable leading laps and since then I've led every single lap. So my confidence is through the roof right now for sure.

You're in a good position to win the Western Regional title. Coming off a win of both races in Reno last weekend, what is your approach for the last few rounds?
You know, Cory (Green) was being real consistent and finally had a slip up which is what I needed. Now I have a very comfortable points lead. I'm not going to do anything different than I would any other weekend. I want to win the last four rounds for sure.

What's next for you? Do you come back to the AMA Arenacross Series to defend your title?
It's really all up in the air. The Babbitt's team has built me a 450 for the last few rounds so I've been able to show what I got on the bigger bike. Next year, we'll see if any opportunities open up over in supercross, but I'd definitely be happy with coming back and defending my Lites title. If I was to come back to the series, my focus would be on the Arenacross class.

Advance tickets are available for this weekend's Council Bluffs Arenacross at the Mid America Center Box Office, Ticketmaster charge by phone and ticketmaster.com. Tickets cost $2 more the day of the race.

Fans in attendance also can take part in the Track Party on Saturday from 5-6 p.m. for the chance to meet the riders and get autographs. Simply recycle any MONSTER ENERGY can at the gate entrance for FREE admission. Must have valid Saturday event ticket to enter.

Tickets for all rounds of the 2010 season can be purchased at www.ticketmaster.com and www.arenacross.com.

For more information on the AMA Arenacross Series log on to www.arenacross.com.

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