Monday, September 20, 2010

Joe Kopp Talks About the Chain Coming Off at The AMA Flat Track Minnesota Mile

Joe Kopp talks with some of the fans during the pitwalk at the Lucas Oil Indy Mile on Saturday, August 28th, while team members of the #3 Latus H-D/Lloyd Bros Racing/American Agip/MotoConcepts-backed Ducati 1098-based machine
talk in their pit area. Matt Weidman #20 and his Mom, Rachel, can just be seen in the background to Joe's right.
Smokin Joe has been stating for the most part that this would be his final year in AMA Pro Flat Track Racing, and up until the Canterbury Park round on September 11th had held the points lead in the series championship since the beginning of the summer. And until that time looked like he would or could be going out as a champion again, after winning the 2000 AMA Flat Track Grand National Championship. But when he lost his brake pedal on lap 2 and then his chain derailed and wrapped itself around the countershaft sprocket on lap 19 of the final, that hard-earned point lead had turned into a 10 point deficit.
And of course you can't not say that losing points at Indy, Springfield and Minnesota due to not making or being able to run the Dash races didn't help any. At Indy the bike wouldn't fire on the line causing him to miss the Dash, and at Springfield he had to come out of, and win the semi to make the main. And at Minnesota, not qualifying for the Dash again cost him valuable points. And in those three rounds alone, new overall point leader Jake Johnson rode the #5 Zanotti Racing XR into all of the Dash rounds, and scored 8 more valuable points in them as a result.
And now you have Knoxville getting canceled, and a one race shoot-out in Prescott Valley in less than three weeks for the 2010 AMA Pro Flat Track K&N Filters Grand National Championship. Not that Joe and the team might not be able to rally, or that something could or would happen to JJ to cause him to finish WAY behind Joe on the day, in both the Dash race and the main. But at this time, after seeing a lot of this season close up again after all these years, if I were a betting man, which I'm not, I would have to place mine on the #5. Of course, anything can happen. I know one's been a GREAT year for AMA Flat Track fans! And it's going to get better!
Joe Kopp puts out a nice little newsletter/press release after each of the AMA Pro Flat Track K&N Filters presented by Motorcycle Grand National Championship races. He talks about the team, the bike, the track they were at and basically runs down into really nice detail exactly how each round went-or went wrong. His most recent release is pretty interesting in how he lost his brake pedal and then the chain on the Ducati during the Canterbury Park Mile main event.

Having led the 2010 AMA Pro Flat Track Grand National Championship overall point standings since the beginning of the summer, the 2000 AMA Flat Track Grand National Champion had been having a banner year to say the least, especially for someone who has talked retirement. He's led the series for half the season, and has won on two different makes of motorcycles at two different types of tracks (mile and half mile), and he took Ducati to it's first ever AMA Flat Track Series win back in May at the Prescott Valley Mile. With as much as an 18 point lead at one time over then-runner up Jersey Jake Johnson on the #5 Zanotti Racing XR, things were looking pretty good until the series hit the Lucas Oil Indy Mile back at the end of August. And then not only the chain but the wheels were starting to fall off.

Having qualified for the Dash via his heat one 2nd place behind heat and eventual main winner Bryan Smith, Kopp's bike wouldn't fire for the points and money race. Zero-Dash points and Johnson not only scored 2 in the Dash, but finished 2 spots ahead of him in the main. At Springfield Kopp gained a point on JJ in the short track Dash, but finished two spots back in the main. On the mile, Kopp missed the Dash and had to win the semi to qualify for the main, while Jersey Jake failed to score in the Dash when crashing out unhurt. But he finished one spot up on Joe in the main.

In Minnesota, Johnson again gained 4 valuable points via a 2nd place in the Dash race, Kopp missed it due to a 3rd place in heat three. And then the main. Jake brought it home in second behind winner Kenny Coolbeth, Jr. and Joe was credited with 16th after only completing 19 laps when the chain finally came off and wrapped around his countershaft sprocket, prematurely ending his night, and possibly his run at the 2010 AMA Pro Flat Track Grand National Championship. And now losing Knoxville in what was all but a must-have race in order for Smokin Joe to mount a charge to gain points back on new series leader Jake Johnson.

With one round left to go in the 2010 AMA Pro Flat Track K&N Filters presented by Motorcycle Grand National Championship Series in Arizona in 18 days, there are still four men with a chance at the title mathematically. Johnson leads with 265 to Kopp's 255. Jared Mees on the #1 machine lies in 3rd with 246 points, and newly crowned 2-Time Singles Champ Henry Wiles has the #17 machine in the 4th spot with 239 markers. But at this point, if you're betting on anyone other then Johnson, the way he's been running and finishing solid all season long, I think you are fighting a losing battle. One, that unfortunately Joe Kopp may have lost much sooner then when the chain came off in Minnesota.

You can read Joe's great report here from over at Joe Kopp I can only imagine what the hell it would feel like to first, lose your brakes on a 130 MPH mile track for one, but then to have the chain wrap itself around the sprocket as well at those speeds. It sure makes for an exciting read!

Stu's Shots wants to thank the competitors in the 2010 AMA Pro Flat Track Grand National Championship Series for what has been a great year of racing and a great turn around for flat track racing in general. The Mike Kidd-led AMA Pro Flat Track team with Steve Morehead and Company has really done a fine job of re-working the show for not only timeliness, but for entertainment value as well, so without a doubt, thank you all as well! And now that the crowds are starting to come back the series that has been the best show on wheels for decades can actually showcase the show the way it should be--top notch and fun as all get-out! Great job by one and all and the greatest racing anywhere!

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