Round 4 of the 2012 AMA Pro Flat Track Harley-Davidson Insurance Grand National Championship presented by Motorcycle-Superstore.com season saw the riders, teams and fans return to the spring running of the Springfield Mile on May 27, the first Twins Series event of the new season and the usual summer kick-off for racing to hit full-bore for the series' schedule.
The return to the Illinois State Fairgrounds mile oval over the Memorial Day Weekend saw the emergence of a new player in town, in the form of the Howerton Motorsports Kawasaki as piloted by National #42 Bryan Smith. Smith had previously announced in April that he would be piloting the new-look 650R-based parallel twin that had been even more perfected in the off-season by long-time fan of the sport and long-time Indianapolis IndyCar fabricator, Rick Howerton, for the 2012 season's five mile events scheduled on the calendar. Springfield was the litmus test, and even without the big win on the day, it passed it's evaluation for the rest of the season with flying colors.
Flirting with the top-5 in practice and qualifying, Flyin Bryan eventually slotted the #42 Crosley Radio/Howerton Motorsports/Eaken Racing Kawasaki/Midwest Performance Hardware-sponsored mount into the 7th-place spot out of the 48 riders that took a timed qualifying run for the day. Going on to lead 2-Time and defending AMA Grand National Champion Jake Johnson home in the first heat race of the day, the first salvo had been fired and the paying crowd on-hand knew that there was a new sheriff in town.
By the time the Dash for Cash had rolled to the line and taken the green flag for the 4-lap run for the points and money, that same crowd was to see Smith take the lead on the second lap and never look back. As pictured above in the run to the white flag, Smith leads eventual 2nd-place Dash finisher Johnson on the #1 Zanotti Racing/Schaeffer's H-D/Boughner Racing/Arai-backed XR750 and 3rd-place Dash finisher Jared Mees on the #9 Rogers Racing/Blue Springs H-D/Saddlemen/National Cycle-sponsored XR750 for the final go-around plus 80 feet +/-.
Smith of course went on to nail the Dash for Howerton Motorsports' first win of any kind in The Rolling Thunder Show, and at the end of the day would stand on the podium after the 25-lap National main finishing in the 3rd-place position after leading 15 laps and just missing the big win to repeat winner Willie McCoy and runner-up Jersey Jake by just .033 seconds. Still not too bad of a finish on their maiden voyage after admitting during the podium ceremonies that going low out of turn four on the final lap caused him to spin-up the rear tire and allow McCoy and Johnson around for the win.
With round 7 of the 2012 season ready to return to the Cal Expo Fairgrounds and the Sacramento Mile on July 28, many are now wondering if Smith can repeat, or better his results next Saturday in his second run on the Howerton/Eaken Kawasaki rocket. Or will Johnson nail his first National win of the year? He's been awfully close in the three Twins Series events of the year, with a 3rd-place finish at Lima and another runner-up at Hagerstown two weeks ago. Or what about the defending Twins Series Champ, Jammin' Jared? Fresh off his first win of the season at Hagerstown, it was this time last season that Mees was on a roll to win the most events of anyone on the year with five series wins.
And then you have Sammy Halbert on his South East H-D XR750, ready to get his first mile win to add to his short track, TT and half-mile wins in the series. And with Kenny Coolbeth, Jr. out of the saddle until at least the Lucas Oil Indy Mile on August 18 due to breaking his tib and fib at Lima, you have the '11 Rookie of the Year holding down the only remaining factory-backed effort in the best racing show on wheels in the world, and Brad Baker is ready to get that elusive first win in his second season being an Expert-ranked rider. The Bullet not only has always had the talent to grab one, but now has the Harley-Davidson Motor Company behind him to help him get it done.
But don't forget Henry Wiles on the Lloyd Brothers Motorsports Italian-based 'L' twin. The 2-Time AMA Singles Champion almost got it done at Lima three weeks ago on the #17 LBM/Foremost Insurance Group/Ramspur Winery/ENI USA-backed machine (pictured above going into turn one during his heat race runner-up finish at Lima), and after winning the Dash he almost chased down eventual-winner Sammy Halbert in the 25-lap National main, coming up just a few feet short. The LBM big twin can really breath in the open air of a mile oval event, and it was just 27 months ago that 2000 AMA Grand National Champion Joe Kopp got the Ohio-based team it's first victory in the series at a west coast mile event in Prescott, AZ.
With Scott Powersports' Johnny Lewis not making the trek west this season, we'll have to wait until Indy next month to see if JL10 is ready to nail one on the big tracks to go along with his Daytona Short Track cherry-breaking win back in March. Could '10 Pro Singles Champion Jeffrey Carver, Jr. break through on the Kiesow Racing XR to get his first win as an Expert? He's been awfully close knocking on the door of late, scoring his first heat race win in the Twins Series at Lima and his first podium after a very strong and defining 3rd-place finish at Hagerstown on July 7.
There is also a big handful of other riders that could at any moment reach out and nail down their first Twins Series win this year. Returning to the track earlier then originally expected, '08 Rookie of the Year Matt Weidman is healing quicker then ever and will return to action at the Sacto Mile on the Greg Crow Racing XR, and he'll be anxious to make amends for his face plant at Lima that broke his collarbone and forced him to miss the Ohio round and Hagerstown. And after getting his first-ever win at the second round of the year at Daytona, Mighty Matt is ready to add to it by getting one on the big twin as well.
Rob Pearson is coming into his own on the Memphis Shades XR, Briar Bauman is ready to take the USC Racing Kawi to the top of the box after a stellar first year in the Pro Singles class in 2011, and Slammin' Sammy's older brother Jethro is making mains and bringing home solid results on the Goodwin Racing XR. And Brandon Robinson on the Werner-Springsteen Kawasaki looked pretty good at Springfield in late May qualifying 5th, another mile event could give the Pennsylvania youngster another chance to let the Bill Werner-built parallel twin breath on an open track. Any one of these men--or women, with the expected return to action at Sacto in the forms of one of the sport's most popular riders, Nichole Cheza on the Global Products XR750--could come out on top by the end of the day next Saturday.
But either way you roll the dice you're going to win on this one, as round 7 of the 2012 AMA Pro Flat Track Harley-Davidson Insurance Grand National Championship presented by Motorcycle-Superstore.com season makes it's first of two western swing stops at the Sacramento Mile next Saturday, and despite the fact that you are going to have to purchase a seat to get into the house for what surely will be a super day of fast and furious action on the track, you probably won't get much of a chance to use it as the excitement, action and thrills on the track will keep you on your toes from the moment you hit the gate to the moment the final checkers fly late into the evening on July 28. And you don't want to miss a second of it!
Thanks again to AMA Pro Flat Track and Circle Bell Motorsports for the press release and info on next week's sure-to-be-a-barnburner event at the Sacto Mile. You can get all the details below and get ready for the best of the best in THE best racing series on wheels in the world. Get your tickets now, you WON'T be disappointed, so take a friend and show them what a great show AMA Pro Flat Track puts on these days and what kind of awesome racing they've been missing all these years!
AMA Pro Flat Track Thunders Back Into Action Saturday, July 28th with the Sacramento Mile
|FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE|
Released on behalf of Circle Bell Motorsports:
SACRAMENTO, Calif. (July 19, 2012) - When the Sacramento Mile, Round 7 of AMA Pro Flat Track's 2012 AMA Pro Harley-Davidson Insurance Grand National Championship presented by Lucas Oil and Motorcycle-Superstore.com thunders into the Cal Expo Center, Saturday July 28th, race fans will be treated to an unmatched spectacle as riders fly down the Sacramento Mile, pitch their bikes sideways and slide through the turns. There is no such thing as pacing or figuring out strategy in this type of competition. It is all or nothing...with only one rider emerging victorious.
Round 12 of the 2011 AMA Pro Flat Track Harley-Davidson Insurance Grand National Championship presented by Motorcycle-Superstore.com season saw the series play out to a packed house at the Cal Expo Fairgrounds in Sacramento, CA. as the series returned to the mile oval in the capital of sunny California after a 12 year break from the popular venue.
Jake Johnson #1, Sammy Halbert #7, Luke Gough #62, Bryan Smith #42, Chris Carr #4 and Brad Baker #12 blast off from the starting line in the Dash for Cash 4-lap points and money extra-round early in the evening of July 30. Johnson would go on to lead Carr, Smith, Halbert, Gough and Baker home while Smith would go on to beat Carr by just .042 seconds in the 25-lap National main event. AMA Pro Flat Track photo by Dave Hoenig.
Not only will this race pit rider against rider, but it will also pit machine against machine. With six races complete, the points are already tight. Jared Mees (Harley-Davidson) currently sits in first with 121 points. Running in second is reigning champion Jake Johnson (Harley-Davidson) with 106 points and right behind is Johnny Lewis (Kawasaki) with 97. In fourth is Sammy Halbert (Harley-Davidson) with 94. In fifth is last year's Sacramento Mile winner Bryan Smith (Harley-Davidson) with 73 points. Tied for sixth are Matt Weidman (Harley-Davidson) and Henry Wiles (Ducati) both with 64. Holding down eighth place with 59 points is Brad Baker (Kawasaki), followed by Jeffrey Carver, Jr. (Harley-Davidson) with 58. Rounding out the top ten is Kenny Coolbeth, Jr., who has 57 points.
With six races down this year, there have been six different winners...Johnny Lewis, Matt Weidman, Henry Wiles, Sammy Halbert, Jared Mees and Willie McCoy.
Last year's star-studded AMA Pro Harley-Davidson Insurance Grand National Championship field marked the return of the Sacramento Mile after an absence of over a decade. A sold out crowd watched in awe as Bryan Smith deftly piloted his Harley-Davidson to victory, taking the Checkered by a margin of just .042 seconds over local hero Chris Carr.
In the AMA Pro Motorcycle-Superstore.com Pro Singles division, the action was equally spectacular as California's Mikey Avila (SDI Insulation) and Mike Martin waged war over Pro Singles honors. Dicing back and forth, the Checkered gave Martin the victory with Avila in second. This year, both Avila and Martin have moved up into the Twins class and will be looking to show California fans just how good they are.
However, top riders like 2009 champion Jared Mees, reigning two-time champion (2010 and 2011) Jake Johnson, three time champion Kenny Coolbeth, Jr., (2006, 2007, 2008) Henry Wiles, Sammy Halbert, Brad Baker, Bryan Smith, Johnny Lewis, Matt Weidman and a host of others have different ideas. Each one is intent on bringing home the victory at the famed Sacramento Mile.
Gates open at 1:30 pm. Riders will run practice in the afternoon with open ceremonies taking place at 6:15 pm. Racing begins at 6:45 pm. A special autograph session will be held immediately following the last practice. Fans can meet their favorite riders, take pictures and get autographs.
Tickets are available on line at www.sacramentomile.com, through the Cal Expo at email@example.com and through Circle Bell Motorsports at 707-703-3633.
Advance ticket prices are $85 for the Turf Club, $75 for the Legends Club House, $65 for Box Seats, $50 for Reserved Grandstands, $40 for Bleachers and $30 for Standing Room. All tickets are $10 more at the gate. All tickets also include same day admission to the Fair.
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