Round 4 of the 2012 AMA Pro Flat Track Harley-Davidson Insurance Grand National Championship presented by Motorcycle-Superstore.com season saw the emergence of a new player in town, the re-emergence of a long-time veteran of the series to the National main winner's podium, and a field rich with talent and variety in the form of eight manufacturers trying to make the 18-(or 19-rider as it were) field at the Springfield Mile I on May 27.
Six of these competitors brought two different makes to the table (with three total making it into the 25-lap main--H-D, Kawasaki, Ducati) when it came time for the extra-points and cash-awarding event known as the Dash for Cash. In what has been a popular feature with riders, sponsors and fans alike, the Dash is a great event that offers the top-2 finishers from each of three heat races a chance to duke it out in a 4-lap battle of man and machine, with $1000 going to the winner, but even more importantly, five valuable points towards the coveted AMA Grand National Championship awarded at the end of each season.
The six riders that comprised the first Twins Series event Dash for Cash are shown above, getting ready to go out and give everyone on-hand a brief, but exciting preview of what is yet to come in the form of The Rolling Thunder Show main event at the end of the day.
Kenny Coolbeth, Jr. on the #2 Screamin Eagle/Harley-Davidson Motor Co/Fox/Arai Helmets-sponsored factory H-D XR750 had earlier in the day established himself as the man-to-beat by taking the fastest heat race win of the day by over 5.5 seconds compared to the other two heat races, and by 2.838 seconds over runner-up Luke Gough. He would end the Dash .375 seconds behind winner Bryan Smith, and would come home with a solid 6th-place finish in the main event after running with the lead all afternoon long.
Texas resident and Kenny Tolbert-tutored Willie McCoy was back for more on his #59 Harley-Davidson of Wausau/Independence H-D/Tucker Rocky/Arai-backed XR750, after having won his first-ever Grand National in over 25 years of competition at the previous Springfield Mile in September '11. McCoy and his self-built mount took on the might of the full-time runners in the greatest racing show on wheels in the world, and managed to pull-out the overall win in the National main event, and brought home a 4th-place finish in the Dash, .192 seconds behind winner Smith.
Flyin Bryan Smith arrived at the Illinois State Fairgrounds with his third-different Twins Series mount in as many years, in the form of the #42 Howerton Motorsports/Eaken Racing Kawasaki/Midwest Performance Hardware/Guts Wear-sponsored Kawasaki 650R-based and Rocket Ricky Howerton-built and Skip Eaken-tuned parallel twin. Builder and master craftsman Howerton, had prepared an immaculate machine full of all the modern bits and pieces (and threw in a big sack of WOW!), and Smith not only took it home to the first heat win of the day, but won the Dash and finished 3rd in the National main, just .033 seconds in arrears of McCoy. Team member and head 'stooge' Jeff Gordon talks with Smith, while builder Howerton overlooks the operation while ready with the remote starter. Smith is scheduled to ride the Kawi for the remaining four mile events (Sacramento, Indy, Springfield, Santa Rosa) and hop back on his Moroney's FastHog.com XR for the other Twins Series events of the year (cue BIG sigh from the rest of the competition for the first part of the summer stretch.)
Former Australian Champion Luke Gough returned to the States to contest Springfield (after sitting out the season-opening Daytona rounds) and the rest of the season, and promptly came home second in his heat to card himself a spot in the Dash. Riding a new #62 Skip Eaken Racing Kawasaki/Dick Ford/Johnson Cams/KK Motorcycle Supply-sponsored 650R-based parallel twin, Lucky Luke would finish the Dash in 6th-place, .844 seconds behind winner Smith, and end the afternoon's racing with a 13th-place finish after pulling off with 3 laps to go with an unknown mechanical problem. Look for much more out of this personable young man as the season commences, as he is establishing himself and the Eaken Racing team as a formidable player on U.S. soil going into their second season together of running a Kawasaki in the Twins events.
Rogers Racing's Brent Armbruster readies the #9 Rogers Racing/Blue Springs H-D/Saddlemen/National Cycle-backed XR750 of Jared Mees, while Mees talks with Jake Johnson (hidden). The defending event-winner's savvy on the track, along with the combination of Armbruster's mechanical ability allowed Mees to qualify for the Dash with a runner-up spot to McCoy in his heat (by just .023 seconds), a 3rd-place finish in the Dash just .009 seconds behind runner-up Johnson and .132 seconds behind Smith. At the end of the day, Mees left the legendary Illinois State Fairgrounds with a strong 4th-place finish in the main event, .233 seconds behind McCoy and with a firm, but early grip on the season's championship point standings lead. It was this time last season that saw Mees go on a tear that would see him end the year with five total wins on the year and come up just-shy of winning the championship.
Jake Johnson has shown over the course of his AMA Grand National Championship career that he has the poise, the talent, and the machinery behind him to do what it takes to grab all the big marbles when the grabbing is good. In '07 he took his first of three championships (Singles Series Champion) while riding for Suzuki, and after hooking up with the powerhouse Zanotti Racing team at the end of the '09 season, has since captured the '10 and '11 AMA Grand National Championship while riding a fine stable of Dave Zanotti and Ted McDermitt-prepared XR750s.
After what was considered a disastrous start to the season at Daytona (for him), Jersey Jake more then made up for it with a trifecta of '2s' on May 27 at the Springfield Mile I round (after finishing 2nd in the previous evening's TT event behind winner Henry Wiles.) Qualifying for the Dash via his 2nd-place finish behind Flyin Bryan Smith in his heat race (.084 seconds back), a 2nd-place finish in the Dash, again to Smith (.023 seconds behind) and a door-knocking 2nd-place finish to McCoy in the National main (.017 seconds in arrears.) If you see a pattern forming here, make no mistake, you NEVER count out the man wearing the #1 plate, especially when it's in the form of the Zanotti Racing/Schaeffer's H-D/Boughner Racing/Arai-sponsored XR750 mounts that Johnson is so accustomed to wielding in the Twin Series events. And you NEVER count out Jake Johnson until the season is completely wrapped up, because chances are if you do, he will have slipped by you, again, and shown his might in the run for the big marbles.
All of this, and we are only four rounds into the 2012 AMA Pro Flat Track Harley-Davidson Insurance Grand National Championship presented by Motorcycle-Superstore.com season, with 12 rounds yet to go and the Lima Half-Mile round 5, less then 48 hours away.
AMA Pro Flat Track and the season-finale promotion group, The Activation Group, announced today that tickets for the season-ending round 16 at the L.A. County Fairplex in Pomona, CA. will be available for sale on Sunday, July 1.
Although over 4 1/2 months off, it's never too early to grab your spot for what will surely be another great battle to the end, as the 2011 version of the championship battle came down to the wire with a hard-fought battle between three men-Johnson, Mees and Sammy Halbert-in a battle of men, machines and wits that saw Johnson sneak away again as he had done the previous season to win the coveted AMA Grand National Championship at the Pomona Half-Mile Flat Track Finals.
Check out the official press release below, and get ready to hold your breath as we get into full swing in the 2012 version of the greatest racing show on wheels in the world, The Rolling Thunder Show!
AMA Pro Grand National Flat Track Finals Return to Los Angeles
|FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE|
Released on behalf of The Activation Group:
LOS ANGELES, Calif. (June 27, 2012) - The AMA Pro Flat Track Finals are once again returning to Southern California and the historic Pomona Half-Mile at LA Fairplex Saturday October 13, 2012. Here the motorcycle world's greatest riders will once again face off shoulder to shoulder and bar to bar at speeds of up to 130 mph on Pomona's famed half-mile oval!
This night of intense, ground-pumping action will crown the two Champions of the AMA Pro Harley-Davidson Insurance Grand National Championship presented by Motorcycle-Superstore.com and Lucas Oil. Both the AMA Pro Grand National Champion and the AMA Pro Motorcycle-SuperStore.com Pro Singles Champion will be decided on this incredible night of racing!
Event co-promoter Chris Morgan is excited for the Finals return for 2012. "Last year's race was arguably one of the greatest finales ever for AMA Pro Flat Track as the guys really laid it all on the line. We are proud to bring this incredible happening back again, where it belongs, to the heart of motorcycle lifestyle and motorcycle racing in America Los Angeles, California."
From 1991 to 1996 the deep cushion of the Pomona Half-Mile was a staple on the Grand National Series, running spring and fall races in 1992 through 1995. The demanding track briefly returned to the schedule for one race in 2009. After the successful revival of the event for the 2011 AMA Pro Flat Track Finals the event is here to stay treating Southern California to some of the most intense, closest and fastest two-wheeled racing seen anywhere in the world.
Eventual 2-Time AMA Grand National Champion Jake Johnson on the #1 Zanotti Racing XR750 leads Sammy Halbert on the #7 Kings Kustoms XR750 during one of the battles seen during round 20 of the 2011 AMA Pro Flat Track Harley-Davidson Insurance Grand National Championship presented by Motorcycle-Superstore.com at the L.A. County Fairplex-hosted season-finale Pomona Half-Mile on October 15. The Rolling Thunder Show will again return to Pomona for this season's final round on October 13, 2012 and tickets will be available for sale on July 1. AMA Pro Flat Track photo by Dave Hoenig.
This grand finale of the Flat Track season will feature the talents of the world's best motorcycle racers. Top names such as Kenny Coolbeth Jr., Sammy Halbert, Jared Mees, Jake Johnson, and young sensation Brad Baker and a host of other top ranked riders will all vie for AMA Pro Flat Track Finals glory on the historic Pomona Half-Mile.
The addition of the Finals to the 2012 AMA Pro Flat Track calendar caps a spectacular three race western state swing to finish up the year for the AMA Pro Harley-Davidson Insurance Grand National Championship presented by Motorcycle-Superstore.com and Lucas Oil featuring the Santa Rosa Mile September 30, Tucson Half-Mile October 6 and the AMA Pro Grand National Flat Track Finals on October 13th.
This year's event has many great ticket options including exclusive VIP Club Level seating, front row box seats, reserved stadium seating and main grandstand general admission. Advanced ticket prices start at just $39 and all tickets go on sale July 1st.
This year the action starts early as local motorcycle clubs will be featuring their bikes on display at the pre-race tailgate party complete with live music, motorcycle vendors, and family activities which will run from 3-5 pm. The racing action gets under way at 6 pm and continues into the night until the AMA Pro Champions are crowned.
For tickets and further information, please visit www.FlatTrackFinals.com or contact the Flat Track Finals staff at (310) 651-3096.
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.
For additional information contact:
AMA Pro Racing Communications, (386) 492-1014, firstname.lastname@example.org