Dodge Brothers Racing's Brad Baker could have put things in cruise mode to earn his first AMA Grand National Championship, but the Washington State resident did just the opposite last night at the season-finale of the 2013 AMA Pro Flat Track presented by J&P Cycles Grand National Championship season.
From the onset, The Bullet took fast time and then went out to take the fastest heat race win of the evening, won the Dash for Cash for the extra 5-point bonus and then led 15 of the 25-lap National main to seal the deal to take the win and earn the 2013 AMA Grand National Championship in his third full season in the Expert class.
Baker, on the #12 Dodge Brothers Racing/Specialty Fabrication Inc/Saddlemen-sponsored Harley-Davidson XR750 ran away in his heat race to take the win over Sammy Halbert by just shy of 4 seconds in the 10-lap race, and then fought tooth and nail with title rival Bryan Smith on the #42 Crosley Radio/Howerton Motorsports Kawasaki for the win in the main event. Smith led the remainder of the laps in their battle at the front, which saw second-year Expert Briar Bauman round out the podium for his first-ever box appearance aboard the #14 Rod Lake Racing Suzuki 1000.
2012 AMA Grand National Champion Jared Mees ended up in the 4th-place spot on the #1 Rogers Racing XR in the main, and equaled that result in the overall championship standings, with TJ Burnett Farms Kawasaki rider JD Beach bringing the #95 mount home in the 5th-place spot.
Championship contender and double Springfield Mile winner Brandon Robinson still ended the season in the 3rd-place spot in the championship after taking the #44 TJ Burnett Farms Kawasaki to a 9th-place finish in the 25-lap National main at the LA Fairplex in Pomona.
The final championship tally saw Baker end the season with 219 points to Smith's 202 points, with BRob44 tallying 185 points in the season. Robinson and Smith led the championship contenders with three wins each for the season, with Baker taking two on the year to seal what is his first of what could be several championships in his bright and young career.
In the shot above, Baker wrestles with the #12 Dodge Brothers Racing H-D XR750 during timed qualifying at the Indy Mile, round 8 of the 2013 AMA Pro Flat Track presented by J&P Cycles Grand National Championship season on August 17.
The Bullet's remarkable season was extremely strong, with only one finish outside the top-5 for the year (19th and last place at the Colonial Downs Mile in late August.) With two wins (Hagerstown, Pomona), seven top-3's and 12 top-5's, Baker also became the third youngest AMA Grand National Champion behind Brad Andres and Jay Springsteen.
Wyatt Maguire only needed a 4th-place finish last night at the Pomona Half-Mile to take the 2013 AMA Pro J&P Cycles Pro Singles Championship over title rival and fellow competitor Ryan Wells, who brought his Waters Auto Body Honda home in the 2nd-place spot behind event and first-time Pro Singles winner J.R. Addison.
Maguire won the championship by just one point on the season, the closest-ever championship margin in the five year series' history, adding his name to a list of Pro Singles Champions including Brad Baker (2009), Jeffrey Carver, Jr. (2010), Mikey Martin (2011) and Stephen Vanderkuur (2012.)
In the shot above, Maguire finesses the #18M Kirkland Racing/Pro1Racingheads.com/FunMart KTM 450 SX-F through turn one at the Indy Mile during the Pro Singles qualifying session on August 17.
A big congratulations goes out to Brad Baker, your 2013 AMA Grand National Champion, for his stellar season in beating the best of the best and having a nearly-flawless year in doing so. And a big tip of the hat to the Atherton duo of Dad and son, Dave and Kevin, for building great bikes for The Bullet to put his great season together and coaching him along throughout the year. And congratulations also go out to your 2013 AMA Pro J&P Cycles Pro Singles Champion, Wyatt Maguire for putting together a super season to take the title in the junior/feeder series of The Rolling Thunder Show.
Brad 'The Bullet' Baker, your 2013 AMA Grand National Champion. Artwork courtesy of Pro Plates.
For a wrap up of last night's race, you can check out Larry Lawrence's report for Cycle News right here.
And AMA Pro Flat Track's official photographer, Dave Hoenig, snapped this album of great shots from last night's season finale. A big thanks to Dave for all of his efforts and great work!
And you can view the full results of the evening from round 13 of the 2013 AMA Pro Flat Track presented by J&P Cycles Grand National Championship season from the Pomona Half-Mile here.
A big tip of the helmet and a thank you to all the competitors, teams and sponsors, as well as AMA Pro Flat Track, J&P Cycles (for their title sponsorship of the Pro Singles class) and for all those involved in making the 2013 season another in a long line of exciting and competitive events in The Rolling Thunder Show, the greatest racing series on two wheels in the world.
It was a big blast and a great experience to be able to report on it and attend a few events this season, and we're looking forward to new, improved and more great racing in the season to come in 2014!
Brad Baker Wins at Pomona in AMA Pro Flat Track presented by J&P Cycles Season Finale, Earns Coveted National #1 Plate
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.
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AMA Pro Racing Communications, (386) 492-1014, email@example.com