With just two rounds to go in the 2012 AMA Pro Flat Track Harley-Davidson Insurance Grand National Championship presented by Motorcycle-Superstore.com season, the same three men are at the top of a great battle for the AMA Grand National Championship title fight, with Sammy Halbert making his bid again last weekend for the top man on the totem pole after winning his series' leading fourth win of-the-year at the Santa Rosa Mile.
Halbert held tough as the laps wore on and was able to take his #7 South East H-D/The South Ass/Mo Vaughn Transport/LZ Racing-sponsored XR750 to the win after running down early-leader Bryan Smith #42 on the Crosley Radio/Howerton Motorsports Kawasaki after Flyin' Bryan's race line went away at the top of the track. Halbert and Jared Mees were both able to get around Smith to round out the top-3 on the podium after a great 25-lap National main held for the first time in 42 years at the Sonoma County Fairgrounds in front of a crowded house full of west coast flat track fans.
With the win, Slammin' Sammy was able to secure the 2nd-place spot in the overall championship battle behind points leader Mees (262-248) with 2-Time and defending AMA Grand National Champion Jake Johnson just two points behind. With the series heading into the Tucson Half-Mile later today in the first of two events left in the season, the tide could easily have swung in Sammy's favor with his skills and strong suit being on the half-mile tracks left on the schedule. But it's still too early to count out either Jammin' Jared or Jersey Jake in what is boiling down to a great tussle to the finish in The Rolling Thunder Show.
Shown above during rider intros at the Springfield Mile II on September 16, Sammy and his crew roll out the #7 South East H-D just in front of his older brother, Jethro, who was riding the #69 USC Racing Kawasaki during the rain-delayed event at the Illinois State Fairgrounds.
The two men who have fought tooth and nail for the coveted AMA Grand National Championship for the last two seasons sit ready to go out for one of the qualifying rounds at the Lucas Oil Indy Mile on August 18, during round 10 of the 2012 AMA Pro Flat Track Harley-Davidson Insurance Grand National Championship presented by Motorcycle-Superstore.com season.
Jared Mees on the #9 Rogers Racing/Blue Springs H-D/Saddlemen/National Cycle-backed XR750 and Jake Johnson on the #1 Zanotti Racing/Schaeffer's H-D/Boughner Racing Suspension/Arai-sponsored XR both put on a great show at Santa Rosa with neither making the Dash event (which was won by Sammy to further gain points on the duo) and Mees was forced to win his semi in order to qualify for the main. Taking advantage of the groove setting in down low. both ran to the front and were able to finish in the 2nd and 4th-place spots to keep themselves in a title fight that is going to go down to the final round in Pomona in just eight short days.
With Johnson not having won a race yet this season, but kicking out great and solid top-5 finishes to keep the Champ in the hunt, today's event in Tucson could just be what the 2-Time defending champ needs to get that elusive first win of the year and propel him back towards the front in the chase. But Mees (along with Halbert's Lima win earlier in the season) has a half-mile win under his belt (Hagerstown) from earlier in the year and is always tough to beat.
Wherever you are or will be, you can follow all the action on AMA Pro Flat Track's Live Timing and Scoring today as first practice rolls out at 5:45 PM EDT/2:45 PM MST in what will surely be a great day of racing as the greatest racing show on wheels in the world hits the track at Tucson in the first of two final rounds in the 2012 season. You won't want to miss it as the stars of The Rolling Thunder Show battle it out on the half-mile in Arizona for all the final marbles in the great title chase happening again this year.
You can follow the action via this link to live timing and check out the press release below for round 14's action at Santa Rosa from last Sunday!
Live timing link:
AMA Pro Flat Track results link for round 15 at Tucson:
DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (October 4, 2012) - The roar of big bore motorcycle racing returned to the Sonoma County Fairgrounds for the first time in 42 years. The Circle Bell / Bob Bellino team hosted round 14 of the AMA Pro Harley-Davidson Insurance Grand National Championship presented by Motorcycle-Superstore.com and Lucas Oil on the mile oval in Santa Rosa, deep in California's wine country. A near capacity crowd witnessed a rough and tumble cushion mile, although there were few fall downs the track was definitely challenging with long straights and tight turns.
When the 25-lap National scrambled into turn one it was Bryan Smith and his Crosley Radio / Howerton Motorsports backed Kawasaki going straight to the hay bales leaving the other 18 riders to fight over second. Smith had been dominant all day and it appeared he was going to easily take his third win of the year, pulling to a five-second lead. At least one person was not convinced, Sammy Halbert (South East Harley-Davidson). "On the first lap or two I was trying the bottom then I was just moved to the top to make that work. I went back to the top but there was a pretty big gap to him (Smith)," said Halbert. "I thought it looked like it was second for me. I was just doing my best around the top."
As the laps wore down Smith's lead began to erode. "The top was going away as fast as the groove was coming in. That is kind of the downfall of leading you don't know what's going on," said Smith. "When you are in the back coming, you can kind of gauge everybody. I looked back once and had a good lead. I looked back again and they were right there passing me."
"I passed him one time but he shot back by me," said Halbert. "I knew I had to find a line significantly better to beat him. I tried the bottom early on and lost a ton of time. I kept checking behind me and the guys eventually started catching me. When they got close enough I could see the pack behind me were all down on the groove on the bottom. I changed up my line and went to the bottom of the track. It took me a few laps to get that figured out. You had to be really easy on the throttle instead of whacking it like I was on the top."
After taking the point on lap 20, Halbert was able to pull away from Smith, but current points leader Jared Mees (Rogers Racing / Blue Springs Harley-Davidson) was slicing his way to the front after starting the race from row three. "I just never gave up. The track definitely came to me," said Mees. "I didn't even know where I was until about five or six laps to go. I thought, 'Man I'm damn near in the lead.' It would have been nice to see that groove come in quicker." "I didn't have trouble staying on the groove," added Mees. "That's my cup of tea, the groove stuff. Anytime I see that black notch coming I get excited." Mees was able to grab second on lap 21 and closed to finish just .874 seconds behind Halbert. "I still thought I had something. I thought 'Okay, I can ride the groove,'" said Smith. "I dove down there and followed Jared into three and kind of got sucked in there a little bit and blew the groove. He gapped me and that was it. I couldn't make up that difference even riding the groove. They were both down low on that little bit of rubber. It wasn't a Springfield groove."
Sammy Halbert on his #7 South East H-D XR750 was able to run down early leader Bryan Smith to win his series' leading 4th race of the season at round 14 in Santa Rosa on September 30. AMA Pro Flat Track photo by Dave Hoenig.
Also moving his way to the front was defending Grand National Champion Jake Johnson (Zanotti Racing / Schaeffer's Harley-Davidson). "I got a good start and went right up to fourth or fifth right off the start. I was hanging tough. All of a sudden I started dropping back," said Johnson. "I think (Briar) Bauman got by. (Rob) Pearson got by and dropped me back to sixth or seventh. I had a couple close encounters with the airfence, I couldn't see much. I ran a few laps down around the bottom. It didn't feel like I was going very fast, but I was making up time."
Memphis Shades / Bumpus Harley-Davidson's Rob Pearson clawed his way up to his best ever mile track finish, a fifth. "I knew we had a good setup," said Pearson. "I went out for the main event and didn't get a great start. I ate dust the whole time, but I was trying to pick away. In the cushion my bike worked really well. I was thinking it was getting slicker and slicker and finally sure enough Jake and Jared went by me at the same time. I moved back down and as I was going to get by Henry I went into to three and four and blew the groove. I swear it was like 20 bikes lengths in one corner. I chased him back down and got back by him. I was trying to set my sights on Jake, but I was wondering if I should run it in under him or what. It was pretty much like ice skating in the corner." Henry Wiles (Foremost Insurance / ENI), Brad Baker (Dodge Brothers Racing), Kenny Coolbeth (Screamin' Eagle Harley-Davidson motor Company), Jeffrey carver (Kiesow Racing / Carver's BBQ) and Briar Bauman (Rod Lake Racing / Brown's Cycle) rounded out the top ten.
Baker earned the event's MotoBatt "Hard Charger" award by improving his position the most throughout the main event.
The four lap Dash for Cash was a definite preview of the Grand National as Sammy Halbert ran down Bryan Smith and picked up the five bonus points along with the $1000 check. Fortunately for Halbert, his points competition, Jared Mees and Jake Johnson, both failed to qualify for the Dash. The near perfect day (Halbert failed to get the bonus point for most laps led) allowed Halbert to move back into second place in the AMA Pro Harley-Davidson Insurance Grand National Championship points race. Jared Mees maintains a 14 point lead with two races remaining. Defending Grand national champion, Jake Johnson drops to third two points behind Halbert. "We lost a few points. I think we are down to like 16 points. We've got our work cut out," said Johnson. "I think leaving Brainerd last year with 2 races to go, I was down 18 points. We're going to need a little bit of luck, but we're still in it."
Santa Rosa Mile Race Results
AMA Pro Harley-Davidson Insurance GNC Points Standings
Sunoco "Go the Distance" Award Update
1. Jeffrey Carver Jr. - 426.08 mi.
2. Jared Mees - 424.3 mi.
3. Jake Johnson - 408.14 mi.
4. Bryan Smith - 405.39 mi.
Saddlemen "Rookie of the Year" Update
Briar Bauman - 103
Mikey Martin - 30
Mikey Avila - 21
Tucson International Raceway
October 6, 2012
Vanderkuur Dominates in AMA Pro Motorcycle-Superstore.com Pro Singles Class at Santa Rosa Mile
AMA Pro Motorcycle-Superstore.com Pro Singles
AMA Pro Motorcycle-Superstore.com Pro Singles points leader Stephen Vanderkuur (Parkinson Brothers Racing / Performance Cycle & Dyno) was obviously the man to beat all day long as he set fast qualifying time, fast heat race win and pulled to over a nine second lead in the 12-lap Pro Singles Main. "I was just riding my own race," said Vanderkuur. "I knew I had to get ahead early and I did just that."
Stephen Vanderkuur on the #10J Parkinson Brothers Honda CRF450R took the win at Santa Rosa by over 9.2 seconds in the AMA Pro Motorcycle-Superstore.com Pro Singles Championship round. Vanderkuur leads Jake Shoemaker by 11 points heading into the final two rounds of the season today in Tucson and next Saturday, October 13 at the season-finale at the Pomona Half-Mile. AMA Pro Flat Track photo by Dave Hoenig.
Rodney Spencer Jr. (831 Pinnit / GP Sports) worked his way into second and was able to pull a comfortable lead over a war for third. Cole Anderson (Diesel Minnesota / Anderson Brothers Motorsports), Jake Shoemaker (Montgomeryville Cycle Center), Dominic Colindres (Weirbach Racing), Ryan Foster (Baywide Glass) and Wyatt Maguire (Kirkland Racing / Pro 1) were all battling over third, but Anderson claimed the last podium spot.
By virtue of his strong performance Vanderkuur extended what had been a narrow points lead to 11 over Shoemaker. Jason Isennock (Highs Dairy Stores) had mechanical problems in turn one of the main and finished last, dropping him to 24 points back of Vanderkuur.
Pro Singles Race Results
AMA Pro Motorcycle-Superstore.com Pro Singles Points Standings
Sunoco "Go the Distance" Award Update
1. Jake Shoemaker - 279.97 mi.
2. Wyatt Maguire - 271.06 mi.
3. Jason Isennock - 269.14 mi.
The stars of AMA Pro Flat Track head to Tucson International Raceway on October 6, 2012. For tickets and information, please visit http://tucsoninternationalraceway.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,