After being forced to start from the third row, Henry Wiles did the near impossible at the annual running of the Peoria TT last Sunday by coming from way behind to take the lead on the 10th lap of the 25-lap race and cruise to an over three second victory at round 7 of the 2013 AMA Pro Flat Track presented by J&P Cycles Grand National Championship.
Wiles, riding the #17 Don's Kawasaki/Parkinson Bros/LBM-supported Honda CRF450R, was leading his heat race over JD Beach and current points leader Brad Baker in heat race #1 when his motor quit running and tuner Brent Armbruster was forced to push the bike into the pits as the heat wound down. Beach on the #95 TJ Burnett Farms Honda cruised to the win after taking the initial lead on the start (shown above), with Baker debuting his new #12 Specialty Fabrication KTM 450SX-F coming home in the runner-up spot, with first-year Expert William Cato rounding out those that would transfer to the main on the #35C Floyd Tapp Honda.
Heat one was a mini-preview of the National main, and Cato would finish in the 13th-place spot to earn his first finish as an Expert and earning his National number for the 2014 season.
The story of the day, however, was Hammerin' Hank, who after being forced to run the semi (while missing the Dash for Cash, won by The Bullet who gained another five points in his quest for the 2013 AMA Grand National Championship), romped through the field right from the start, and was in 6th-place in the 18-rider field just a handful of laps into the final. By lap 10, he had passed early leaders Shaun Russell and Briar Bauman to earn the victory by 3.317 seconds over Baker, Beach, Russell and Bauman rounding out the top-5.
Wiles worked his was through his semi to pass early leader Mikey Rush on the #54 Machete Energy Honda (Rush finished in the 15th-place spot of the National) coming into turn 2 (above) to earn his third row start to the place he has dominated since the 2004 running of the event which he won while riding for George Mack of Mack Daddy Racing.
'They call me Mr. Nine-Time' holds up nine fingers on the podium to signify his amazing feat for the day in Thunder Valley. If you look closely at his rear tire, you can see where The Hammer wore it down from doing one of his famous 'smother the crowd in smoke' burnouts on the back stretch while celebrating his victory at Peoria.
Baker was awarded the ceremonial Singles Series Championship on the podium (an amazing feat in itself considering his first time riding the KTM and also taking into account his Daytona Short Track II disqualification from his 2nd-place finish for use of unauthorized forks.) Baker left Peoria with a 29-point title lead in the championship over Wiles, who moved into 2nd-place with his win (135-106 points) coupled with Bryan Smith's 10th-place finish on the Crosley Radio/Howerton Honda (93 points and now in 3rd-place in the championship hunt.)
Beach had a super run to 3rd-place in his part-time gig away from riding his RoadRace Factory Yamaha in the AMA Pro GoPro Daytona SportBike Series. Jiggy Dog earned his second career podium at Peoria after taking a 3rd-place finish in his debut as an Expert at the Springfield Short Track in 2010. He also went out of his way to thank the great crowd on-hand for coming out to another superb day of racing at Peoria.
Two of the other big stories of the day belonged to self-sponsored Shaun Russell on his #28 Honda, and Steve Bonsey on his second National ride for the Zanotti Racing Honda team on the #80 machine.
Bonsey ended up 6th in the National, after winning his heat by just .145 seconds over Russell in their heat race.
Returning to the track after a nearly year-long layoff, Russell looked like a champ hounding Bonsey throughout their heat, and also led the first three laps of the National.
A very nice day for the Illinois rider based just outside of the Danville area, who will also be riding at Indy this coming weekend and at both Springfield events over the Labor Day weekend on the ex-Lloyd Brothers Motorsports Aprilias, campaigned several years ago by Aaron King and taken to a 2nd-place finish at Lima by Wiles in the 2008 season. Dave Lloyd, co-owner of the LBM team, gifted Russell with the use of the Aprilias for the upcoming races and most likely will be helping him out come this weekend with set-up where they can (when not busy with Wiles on either the Ducati or the team's XR750 and new signee Jake Johnson on one of the team's Ducatis) here in Indy and at Springfield in just over two weeks' time.
Bonsey was obviously also on fire throughout the day, and his and Russell's performances were overshadowed by Wiles' amazing feat at Peoria, but both are due a lot of credit for their great performances in Thunder Valley.
In the shot above from the first lap of the National, Russell takes command early on his #28 self-sponsored Honda while battling with Briar Bauman on the #14 Rod Lake Racing Honda, Jeffrey Carver, Jr. on the #23 Mack Daddy Racing/Kiesow Racing Honda (9th-place finish), JD Beach, Bonsey, Baker and Rob Pearson on the #27 Weirbach Racing Honda (7th-place finish).
Miriam Deitcher and her Flat Track Live coverage was on hand (in spite of boy friend Sammy Halbert missing the main after crashing off of the jump in his heat) and got this great mini-video of the final. Also of note, 3-Time AMA Grand National Twins Champion Kenny Coolbeth, Jr. missed the main at Peoria for the first time in memory. It seemed real strange not having either The Slammer or The King of Cool in the National main.
Full results from AMA Pro Flat Track can be found here, while you can also read the story of the day from Peoria thanks to Cycle News' own and my traveling buddy, Larry Lawrence.
The series has a short trip and time off as it heads to round 8 of the 2013 AMA Pro Flat Track presented by J&P Cycles Grand National Championship season as the Rolling Thunder Show hits the mile oval at the Indiana State Fairgrounds this Saturday, August 17 for the running of the Indy Mile.
While you are awaiting the great action to come at Indy this weekend, check out the press release below for a brief rundown of the day's events at Peoria thanks to AMA Pro Flat Track.
Henry Wiles Makes it Nine Straight at Peoria, Brad Baker Earns AMA Pro Flat Track presented by J&P Cycles Grand National Expert Singles Championship
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