There were several good stories and several game-changing plans that came into play at round 10 of the 2012 AMA Pro Flat Track Harley-Davidson Insurance Grand National Championship presented by Motorcycle-Superstore.com season at the Lucas Oil Indy Mile. In no particular order, Jake Johnson crashing out of the National main, Bryan Smith looking to make it a runaway before his bike went south, Sammy Halbert taking his first mile win of his young career to seal the deal on the flat track grand slam, and Brandon Robinson bringing the Kawasaki home in the 2nd-place spot for his best-ever finish and first podium of his young career in a Twins Series Expert final.
With Flyin Bryan the hands-down favorite on the #42 Crosley Radio/Howerton Motorsports powered by Eaken Racing 650R-based parallel twin, it was a big surprise when the electricals appeared to fail on the rocket Kawi just past the half-way point in the race. With Jersey Jake having just earlier crashed out on the #1 Zanotti Racing/Schaeffer's H-D-backed XR750 (and his first crash in a Twins Series race in over two years), it left the door open for Slammin' Sammy to slingshot around JJ in the points race after his strong win at the Indiana State Fairgrounds mile oval.
Jared Mees' fine run home into the 3rd-place spot on the #9 Rogers Racing/Lucas Oil-sponsored XR750 put him in firm control of the points battle with six events left to go in the season, although at this point you not only can't count out the 2-Time and defending Champ, Johnson, Sammy is also making a strong point to the rest of the competitors that he wants in on the 2012 Grand National Championship chase as well.
One of the best feel-good stories of the day was Brandon Robinson's superb ride onto the podium with his 2nd-place effort on the #44 Werner-Springsteen Racing/Big Dawg Racing-backed Kawasaki after having just scored his previous-best effort of 4th-place at the Sacto Mile some three weeks earlier. BRob44 looked to be back in top form after his nasty 'out of the park' accident at the 2009 Lucas Oil Indy Mile, and no one was happier for him then himself after all he has come back from while healing from his injuries and surgeries. And it was a great shot for the iconic pairing of multi-time champion tuner Bill Werner and 3-Time AMA Grand National Champion Jay Springsteen, who struggled throughout the 2011 season and have really turned it around with Robinson on one of their bikes.
Although his 11th-place run wasn't indicative of how hard he had been working all day at Indy, Stevie Bonsey was paired with Robinson on the #80 Werner-Springsteen Kawi and won his heat race and ran up front in the National main until the waning laps where he slipped back. Still a great effort for the Californian and another reason to keep him on the Mean Green Werner-Springsteen machine to help develop the bike and his talents, which in both cases appeared to be a great match at Indy.
Sammy really had to work for this win at Indy on his #7 South East Harley/The South Ass-backed XR in running down mid-race leader Robinson, but once he got around him with just a few laps to go used his experience to keep it out front and nip him at the line by literally just inches.
Henry Wiles brought home a hard-fought 4th-place effort on the #17 Lloyd Brothers Motorsports/Foremost Insurance Group-backed Ducati V-twin, after working his way through a mid-pack start. Kenny Coolbeth, Jr. on the #2 Harley-Davidson Motor Co/Screamin' Eagle-sponsored XR750 sailed home for a 5th-place finish in his first race back after suffering injuries in late June at the Lima Half-Mile. Brad Baker on the #12 Dodge Bros/Atherton Family-backed XR750 got a 6th-place finish for his great run at Indy, and Rob Pearson brought the #27 Eaken Racing Kawasaki home for a 7th-place finish after opting for the Kawi after having run one of Skip Eaken's Roeder XRs earlier in the day after the Memphis Shades hauler broke down on the way to the track.
Also of note, Shawn Baer made his first-ever Dash for Cash and front row start in a National main on his #32 Baer Racing Products/KB5-sponsored Kawasaki and finished in the 10th-place spot in the main, Matt Weidman in his first ride on the #20 Scott Powersports Kawasaki rode a fine race at Indy for his 8th-place effort, and Jeffrey Carver, Jr. on the #23 Kiesow Racing/Carver's BBQ-sponsored XR ran solid all night for a 9th-place finish.
The shot above shows Johnson, Smith, Bonsey, Halbert, Mees, JD Beach (on the #95 machine who suffered some sort of mechanical for a 16th-place finish on the USC Racing Kawi), Brad Baker (just behind Beach), Shawn Baer and Henry Wiles (just behind Baer) and Carver. 2nd-place finisher Robinson can be seen coming off the line with the pack at the start of the 25-lap National just over Halbert's right shoulder.
The stars of The Rolling Thunder Show head to the Illinois State Fairgrounds this Saturday, September 1 and Sunday, September 2 for the running of the Springfield Short Track and Springfield Mile II, rounds 11 and 12 of the 2012 season. But with Hurricane Isaac looking to threaten everyone's last holiday weekend of the summer throughout the mid-section of the continental 48, keep an ear and eye open for what changes may have to be made in order to get the weekend of superb racing in.
If you're an Indy local such as we are, seeing Dan Ingram win his semi at the Lucas Oil Indy Mile was like the stuff that dreams are made of. And apparently almost the whole house was from Indy as Dapper Dan got the biggest response from the crowd when he won the first semi of the night over Matt Weidman and Rob Pearson to slot them all into the National main. Every paying butt in the house (and even many of us in the pits on-hand to see and cover the race) was on their feet and roaring as Dan worked his way through the semi to get back on the podium again in his 2012 return to The Rolling Thunder Show. And when that helmet came off on the podium his roar could be heard all the way back to at least his home in Clermont, some 12 miles west of the fairgrounds
For a man 47 years young he looked like the young sensation he was when his career was cut short back in the early '90s. Dan worked his way through the field like playing a chess game and put the #31J TCR/Indy Southside H-D-backed XR at the front with a run that looked like he had planned it right from the start, and another of the great stories from this year's edition of the Lucas Oil Indy Mile.
Although the engine on the TCR XR750 went south in the National main relegating the Indy resident to an 18th-place last-place spot, everyone on-hand knew that Ingram was back where he belonged, fighting it out on the track with the other starts of The Rolling Thunder Show. Great job man!
DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (August 22, 2012) - Surrounded by hype and hoopla, round 10 of the AMA Pro Harley-Davidson Insurance Grand National Championship presented by Motorcycle-Superstore.com and Lucas Oil came to the Indiana State Fairgrounds at the end of the Indiana State Fair and smack in the middle of the Indianapolis MotoGP weekend. The near capacity crowd that turned out on the near perfect night, filling the grandstand and infield were treated to racing action that lived up to the hype and more.
Mile track racing normally requires speed, strategy and stamina, and all three once again came into play in the 25-lap Grand National. When the double checkered flags came out, it was South East Harley-Davidson's Sammy Halbert claiming a narrow victory over Werner Springsteen Racing's Brandon Robinson. Halbert would only lead three laps, but they were the final three laps. The win gives Halbert a win in all four of the dirt track disciplines Mile, Half-Mile, Short Track and TT. "The grand slam feels awesome. We've been trying for a long time," said Halbert. 'We've come up a few inches short a few times, but this time we are on the other end of it. It feels great."
The race had started with defending AMA Pro Harley-Davidson Insurance Grand National Champion Jake Johnson getting the hole shot on his Zanotti Racing Harley-Davidson. Johnson held the point for six laps, but Bryan Smith pushed his Crosley Radio / Howerton Racing Kawasaki by on lap seven as he looked to repeat his Sacramento Mile dominance. Johnson was pushing his Harley-Davidson for all it was worth in an attempt to keep even with Smith. On lap 11, it caught up with Johnson going into turn three when he lost his brake and hit the ground at over 100 mph. The red lights brought the field to a stop with 14 laps to go.
Sammy Halbert is shown on the podium after winning the 2012 Lucas Oil Indy Mile on August 18. AMA Pro Flat Track photo by Dave Hoenig.
Johnson's night was done, but he would be credited with 15th as three riders had already succumbed to problems. The staggered restart saw Smith flash to the front with current points leader Jared Mees (Rogers Racing / Blue Springs Harley-Davidson) right on his heels. One lap later, Mees would have the lead as the field thundered across the line as Smith's Kawasaki was noticeably slowing. Smith would not finish another lap, stopping on the back straight with reported electrical problems.
Suddenly with the two front runners on the sidelines Robinson grabbed the lead. "It's a dream come true. Leading a national for the first time was pretty nerve racking," said Robinson. "I couldn't believe I was leading the Indy mile, it was insane." Of course in typical mile racing he was not alone. Halbert, Mees and the hard charging Brad Baker (Dodge Brother Racing) were nipping at his heels. "When Bryan broke leaving me the only Kawasaki up front it made it a lot easier to control the tempo," said Robinson. "It was better not having to pass Bryan because his bike is super fast. He is in my opinion, the best miler on the circuit right now. Everything just played into my favor."
Halbert was able to take advantage of Robinson's relative inexperience late in the race. "On the restart my clutch was going out, so Jared got by me. Then Bryan broke, and I thought all right now we've got a shot at this," said Halbert. "Then another Kawasaki comes blowing by. I thought, 'How do we deal with this?' Luckily I don't think Brandon's was quite as fast. I was able to get by him. It was a late, late kind of stuff move, but the way the rule package is, not only does it suck to race against the Kawasakis, but it's dangerous. You have to really make risky moves to pass them. You have to pass them really late in the corner. That's why Jake went down. You have to risk it extra. We made it happen tonight. The bike was really hooked up and got the win." Robinson was making his first start after his Castle Rock get off just two weeks ago. "The only thing that was in my mind was that I broke my scapula at Castle Rock and I'm racing four weeks early," said Robinson. "That was always in the back of my mind. I didn't want to fall. I had a lot of confidence coming into here. Once I got up front, it just felt natural again, like it did at Sacramento."
Halbert was able to lead off the last turn and hold off the screaming Kawasaki at the line by just .027 of a second. "It was a tough race. There were a lot of different emotions in that race," said Halbert. "In the beginning I was just bummed out because we were behind Bryan. There was nothing you could do. Jake was trying hard. He ran it inside hard and lost it. My strategy was just to follow Bryan. There was no way you were going to pass him out here. Even though he was slower in the corners, compared to us."
Just a breath back in third was Mees, maintaining his points lead. "I was trying to get by Robinson and then Sammy got by him," said Mees. "Sammy was hauling in the corners and I was thinking I needed to get by that Kawasaki so I could draft him. Then Robinson drafted back by me and he was running Sammy down. I wasn't able to get close enough to him to make the draft, I couldn't double draft them. I thought it was my race to win, but we ended up third. Robinson rode a good race, that bike is just so fast. It too bad for Jake, but it happens." The battle for fourth went down to the wire with Baker, Kenny Coolbeth (Harley-Davidson Motor Company) and Henry Wiles (Foremost Insurance) fighting over the spot. It turned into a two rider race when Baker's Harley went off song in the last turn. The Harley-Davidson, Ducati battle went to Wiles and his Ducati. "I was kind of hanging in there after the restart. I was just struggling a little bit getting off the corner," said Wiles. "That is the main problem that we had. It took us a little bit to get going in the beginning of the race. We were turning pretty decent lap times. It was exciting but we still have a few things we are working on to try to sort out on the bike. I was able to kind of draft up around with those guys. We were just right there. It seemed like I just struggled a little bit getting the bike off the corner, but I could keep them in sight."
"The bike was just trying to kill me in the heat race. We made some adjustments after that and it was way better," said Coolbeth. "I just had to knock the rust off a little. Riding with the Jap bikes is just crazy. I rode with the Ducati quite a bit in the main event and you couldn't do anything with it. It was like going 10 mph in the corners and down the straightaway it would just go. You could come off right on them and it would just kill you on the straightaway. Henry did something stupid going into one on the last lap and just about took me out. It's just racing, but I was just kind of mad about that because he didn't really need to do it. I came to win or I wouldn't have come here. I feel good and will go on to Springfield."
Earlier in the night, the four lap dash had gone to Smith as he edged Johnson and JD Beach (USC Kawasaki). Johnson's second place finish allowed him to pick up four points on Mees, who failed to qualify for the dash. The dash had four Kawasaki and two Harley-Davidson entries.
What looked like a big points night for Johnson went for naught with his fall down and Mees recovery for a third place finish. Halbert's win propelled him into second now 21 points back of Mees with Johnson seven more back. The points race has turned into a three rider battle as Smith sits in fourth 78 points off the lead.
The night's MotoBatt "Hard Charger" Award went to Robert Pearson for advancing 11 positions in the Main Event.
Springfield Short Track and Mile II
September 1-2, 2012
Vanderkuur Seals the Deal and Gets AMA Pro Motorcycle-Superstore.com Pro Singles Win at Indy Mile
AMA Pro Motorcycle-Superstore.com Pro Singles
Last week's Peoria winner Dominic Colindres (Weirbach Racing) grabbed the hole shot in the 12-lap AMA Pro Motorcycle-Superstore.com Pro Singles Main Event with a screaming horde of 450cc singles hot on his heels.
The race turned into an all out war as Colindres was under attack from Zakk Palmer (Western Hills Honda) and Stephen Vanderkuur (Parkinson Brothers Racing). Jake Shoemaker (Montgomeryville Cycle Center), Jason Isennock (Highs Dairy Stores), Ryan Wells (5 Star Steel & Fabricating) and Jake Cunningham (Schiller's Tree Service) all made up the lead pack.
The race to the checkers would come down to Palmer, who led at the white flag, Vanderkuur and Colindres. "It was an awesome race, I knew I had to get a good restart and I did," Vanderkuur said. "I knew there would be a bunch of passing and that I was going to have my work cut out. It was a toss-up and I just went for it. I gave it my all and I'm just so excited."
Stephen Vanderkuur celebrates on the podium after winning the Lucas Oil Indy Mile round of the 2012 AMA Pro Motorcycle-Superstore.com Pro Singles Championship Series at the Indiana State Fairgrounds on August 18. AMA Pro Flat Track photo by Dave Hoenig.
Vanderkuur won by a relatively large margin, compared to the tightness of the rest of the race, .058 of a second ( a little over a bike length). Colindres was second with Palmer rounding out the podium. Shoemaker was a solid fourth by half a second over Isennock. Wells finished sixth with the top six separated by less than a second. The win allowed Vanderkuur to leap frog into the points lead over Wells by one point. Shoemaker is ten back in third with Isennock just two more back in fourth.
The injured Gerit Callies dropped from the lead all the way to fifth in points.
Pro Singles Race Results Pro Singles Point Standings
Sunoco "Go the Distance" Award Update
Jason Isennock - 194.14
Jake Shoemaker - 191.97
Ryan Wells - 186.19
Wyatt Maguire - 182.81
Stephen Vanderkuur 174.33
The stars of AMA Pro Flat Track will return to the Illinois State Fairgrounds on September 1-2, 2012. For tickets and information, please visit http://www.illinoismda.com/
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,