Six of the top-10 riders in the 2011 AMA Pro Flat Track Harley-Davidson Insurance Grand National Championship presented by Motorcycle-Superstore.com season await the start of practice at round 14 of the series at the Springfield Short Track on September 3, with just over six weeks to go until the season's final round at Pomona on October 15.
Springfield Short Track king Henry Wiles on the #17 Monster Energy Kawasaki/Jones Bros-sponsored KX450F, Jared Mees on the #9 Montgomeryville Cycle Center/Rogers Lake Racing-backed Honda CRF450R, Matt Weidman on his #20 SNIP/Fiorio Investments-backed Honda, Jake Johnson on the #1 Zanotti Racing/Schaeffer's H-D-sponsored Honda, Johnny Lewis on the #10 Scott Powersports/Dubach Racing Developments-backed Honda and Sammy Halbert on his #7 Woody Kyle Racing/Fredericktown Yamaha-sponsored YZ450F battled strong throughout the day's activities at the last Singles Series event of the 2011 season.
Fast forward to March 15-16, and these same men would line it up again at the season-opening rounds of the 2012 AMA Pro Flat Track Harley-Davidson Insurance Grand National Championship presented by Motorcycle-Superstore.com season at the Daytona Short Track to kick off a new year in The Rolling Thunder Show, the best show in racing on wheels in the world.
When all was said and done, it wasn't a case of the 'usual suspects' as two new winners emerged in the new year to lead the rest into the long two-month break until rounds 3 & 4 of the championship reconvenes at the Illinois State Fairgrounds over Memorial Day weekend.
Pennsylvania resident Johnny Lewis and New York State's Matt Weidman would leave Daytona with their first series wins and Weidman would find himself atop the series points standings for the first-ever time in his 5-year Expert Pro career.
2-Time Singles Series Champ Wiles would have what could at best be termed a slow start to the season, especially for the man who owns the TT at Peoria and the short track at Springfield.
Halbert, the '11 Singles Series Champ and the winner of three of the previous four rounds at Daytona, would back those wins up with two top-5s, Johnson would leave Daytona with perhaps his worst-ever outing in the Sunshine State, and Mees would leave with a solid 2nd-place in the championship after almost winning round 2 and being forced to give up his prize money or his points.
But Daytona is, like they say, Daytona. Once the series gets into full-swing at the end of May at the Illinois State capital facility, the numbers, riders and equipment will sort themselves out, just as what seems to happen every season. And with two new winners in the series' long history, it leaves many to ponder the fact that the two men who came out on top at Daytona have also both been knocking steadily at the door for the last few years, ready to take a share of the pie along with the rest to mix it up with the best there is in motorcycle flat track racing.
With eight weeks until the series touches down in Springfield, there is plenty of time to do the numbers. But as we all know, in reality, all the b.s. stops when the green flag drops and we line 'em up to do it again in late May.
While you are pondering your numbers, check out one of the latest from AMA Pro Flat Track as they review their numbers from the Daytona season-opening rounds below, and we are left to count the days until we are ready to do it again.
DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (March 27, 2012) - The first two rounds of the AMA Pro Harley-Davidson Insurance Grand National Championship presented by Motorcycle-Superstore.com are in the books. After two days of heated short track action, here is a look at a few of the extra awards available in 2012.
Again in 2012 the Harley-Davidson Insurance Year End Points Fund for the AMA Pro Harley-Davidson Insurance Grand National Experts is the biggest award with a total of $100,000 to be split between the top 12 in the final GNC Combined point standings.
Coming off the best performances of his young career, Matt Weidman (SNIP / Fiorio Investments / Greg Crow Racing) leads the chase for the $20,000 overall winner's share of the Harley-Davidson Insurance pot-o-gold. Just seven and eight points back respectively are Jared Mees (Rogers Lake Racing) and Johnny Lewis (Scott Powersports).
Another doubleheader weekend, the Springfield, Ill., TT and mile races are up next on the 19 race schedule.
On paper starting the 2012 season the Saddlemen "Rookie of the Year" award looks to hold another competitive class of youngsters. 16 year old Briar Bauman (USC Kawasaki / Ronnie Brown) leads a couple of 18 year old riders, Mikey Avila (SDI Insulation / Joe Bisha) and Mikey Martin (Bonneville Performance Triumph / Acerbis), after a great debut, posting eighth and sixth place finishes. Avila also qualified both nights and finished 17th and 19th.
Martin missed both nights with his best finish just one out in his semi on Friday. Bauman is tied for seventh in the point standings 22 ahead of Avila. Saddlemen has once again posted a $5,000 year end award to the eligible rider who scores the most points in the Harley-Davidson Insurance Grand National Championship.
A new and unique award for 2012 is from the series' new fuel supplier. The Sunoco "Go the Distance Award" will be presented to the rider who covers the most distance during the 2012 AMA Pro Flat Track season. The top four mileage earners will get $4,000, $3,000, $2,000 and $1,000 respectively.
After the first two rounds Don Mullen (Shenandoah Honda) and Mikey Avila are tied with 28.5 miles each. Brad Baker (Werner and Springsteen Racing) and Brandon Robinson (Action Motorsports) are just behind with 27 & 26 miles.
The Cortech "Performance Edge Award" will go to the AMA Pro Expert rider who posts the highest number of "fastest lap of the Expert National" for the entire 2012 season. Johnny Lewis (race #1) and Sammy Halbert (Fredericktown Yamaha) (race #2) are leading the chase for that $1,000.
The Motobatt "Hard Charger Award" will award $250 to the rider who improves the most positions during each AMA Pro Grand National Expert main event. Brad Baker topped night one as he moved up nine positions and Mikey Rush (A&J Racing) improved seven spots on night two.
In the Motorcycle-Superstore.com Pro Singles class, the title sponsor has posted a $25,000 points fund for the top six riders in the class. With two of the 19 races in the book, USC Kawasaki's Hayden Gillim leads the chase for the $10,000 winners share of the pie. Gillim has Road Race obligations that will limit his ability to hold his points lead so the three riders tied for second, Ryan Wells (Weirbach Racing), Gerit Callies (Fun Mart / Power Brokers) and Hunter Taylor (Kirkland Racing), are in the drivers seat despite being 11 points down to Gillim.
In the Pro Singles Class, the Sunoco "Go the Distance Award" is being led by Andrew Smith (TNT Action Sports) with 22 miles. Rob McClendon (D&D Cycles / Sammy Halbert Racing), Shayna Texter (RLT Racing / Herrs) and Wyatt Maguire (Pro 1 Racing Heads / Shortblock Charlies) are all tied in second with 20 miles.
With the 2012 season of the AMA Pro Harley-Davidson Insurance Grand National Championship presented by Motorcycle-Superstore.com in it's infancy, the excitement has just begun. Both the Harley-Davidson Insurance Grand National Expert class and the Motorcycle-Superstore.com Pro Singles class are full of contenders for all of these awards and the competition will no doubt be fierce until the series ends October in Pomona, Calif.
AMA Pro Racing is the premier professional motorcycle racing organization in North America, operating a full schedule of events and championships for a variety of motorcycle disciplines. Learn more about AMA Pro Racing at www.amaproracing.com.
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