Saturday, October 12, 2013

The Title Fight for the 2013 AMA Grand National Championship All Comes Down Today in Round 13 of the 2013 AMA Pro Flat Track presented by J&P Cycles Grand National Championship Season at the Pomona Half-Mile

In a championship hunt that started seven months ago at the Daytona Short Track, the protagonists in the 2013 AMA Pro Flat Track presented by J&P Cycles Grand National Championship season will go into their final battle today at the L.A. County Fairplex to do some final handlebar banging on the Pomona Half-Mile to determine the 2013 AMA Grand National Champion.

With the title hunt down to the final three men standing in the fight, the stage has been set for what will be one of the closest battles for the #1 plate in recent history as Brandon Robinson and Bryan Smith will both try their best to wrestle that coveted top spot in the overall standings from Brad Baker, who has held the championship lead since taking charge from Robinson in the title hunt way back in early July after winning his first AMA Grand National Championship event at the Hagerstown Half-Mile.

Smith, who for the second year has proven his dominance on the mile track on the #42 Howerton Motorsports Kawasaki, sits between the two and will try to improve his 3rd-place finish at Pomona from the season-ending round just 12 months ago, while Robinson will try to atone for his Castle Rock TT DNQ and his 18th-place finish just a week later at the Peoria TT by coming from behind to regain the points lead at the end of the day, and hopefully for him, that coveted championship on the #44 TJ Burnett Farms Racing Kawasaki.

Baker meanwhile should be able to put things on cruise control and march the #12 Dodge Brothers Racing Harley-Davidson XR750 to the front on a track that has favored the XR mount of choice on the half-mile venues for over 100 events.  The last non-Harley win on a half-mile came at the Joliet Half-Mile in August '98 when Rick King took the #80 Corbin Racing Honda RS750 to the win ahead of a pack of XR-mounted riders.

But with Pomona being closer to a 5/8ths-mile track, and with Smith's strong 3rd-place finish in last year's finale, the question that will be on everyone's mind going into this afternoon's event will be 'have the Kawasakis been able to step it up on the smaller tracks' as much, or more, as they have on the bigger mile ovals? 

No matter which way the dice fall during today's events, which roll out for first practice at 5:30 PM EDT/2:30 PM PDT, the season-finale at Pomona will undoubtedly be another great event for the 2013 season.

In the shot above, Brandon Robinson and the #44 TJ Burnett Farms/USC/James Hart Racing Kawasaki team celebrate on the podium after sweeping the day's events at the Springfield Mile I, round 10 of the 2013 season on August 31 at the Illinois State Fairgrounds.

Robinson, who won the first Grand National of his young career at the Daytona Short Track II event on March 15, held the championship lead until his missive at the Hagerstown round in early July when he slid out during the main event and finished in the 17th-place spot. After the previously-mentioned results at Castle Rock and Peoria, the former 2008 Basic Expert Twins Champion went on a tear that started with his 2nd-place finish at the Indy Mile, continued with another podium and 3rd-place finish at the Colonial Downs Mile, and culminated with him sweeping the weekend at the Springfield Mile doubleheader.

With the Santa Rosa Mile main event rain-out, Robinson lies 15-points down from the top of the charts behind Baker, and 4-points down on 2nd-place man Bryan Smith heading into this afternoon's final clash.  His shot for that #1 plate may be more of a long-shot today with the dominance of the XR750s on the half-miles, but as we all know anything is possible in racing, and Robinson's total domination at Springfield from the start to the finish of each day over the Labor Day weekend was a bold, hard statement to how hard the TJ Burnett Farms team has worked this year and a testament to BRob44's will to return to top form after his near career-ending and life-threatening injuries at the Indy Mile in August '09.  He may be the long shot, but that will make him that much more ready to accept the challenge once the first green flag drops later today.

Smith on the other hand has all but totally dominated on the big tracks since hooking up with the Indy-based Howerton Motorsports team in late spring of 2012, and his 3rd-place finish at Pomona last season in a 'bogey' race that was just decided several weeks before the event unfolded was a testament to his ability to maneuver a wicked-fast Expert Twins Series machine around any size track, big or not-as-big.

The Flint, Michigan native, the senior member of the trio with the final shot at the #1 plate for the 2013 season, told us last month in an e-mail that Rick Howerton and his Howerton Motorsports Kawasaki 'resurrected his career' when the hooked up in April 2012, and Flyin' Bryan has paid back the Indy engineer and fabricator in spades, winning the 2012 Expert Twins Grand National Championship to go along with the two wins and five podiums in their first season together.

With today's final race Smith has the best shot of his career, up to this point, to grab that elusive overall championship and put the #1 plate on the front of the Howerton rocket for the 2014 season.

In the shot above, Smith climbs off the #42 Crosley Radio/Howerton Motorsports/Villa Esparza-backed Kawasaki EX650-based mount after winning heat race #3 at the Springfield Mile II on September 1 last month.

Brad Baker has been the epitome of cool for a 20 year old this season, his third full year of competing in the Expert Series after having won the 2009, and initial AMA Pro Singles Championship and finishing in the runner-up spot during the 2010 campaign to life-long friend and fellow racer Jeffrey Carver, Jr.

After his stellar 2011 AMA Pro Flat Track Saddlemen Rookie of the Year campaign while riding the Lloyd Brothers Motorsports Ducati, Baker left the team to hook up with Kenny Tolbert to ride the first season of the master wrench's new Kawasakis after Tolbert was left out of a tuning job with 7-Time AMA Grand National Champion Chris Carr's retirement at the end of the 2011 season.

But a slow start to the season after getting the bikes together and lack of track time doomed what could have been a superteam pairing when Tolbert was forced to mothball the team after the first Springfield Mile event and Baker missed making the field.

Bouncing from bike to bike and riding for several teams in the 2012 season, by the end of the summer The Bullet had found 'home' when hooking up with the California-based Dodge Brothers Racing team, and with the help of rider/coach and former AMA Grand National competitor Kevin Atherton, with his Dad, Dave, taking the helm of the wrenching duties for the team, Baker and the team seemed to meld together even better out of the box in during the 2013 season.

By Hagerstown at the end of the first week of July, the Washington State resident had won his career-first AMA Grand National Championship event and had taken over, and held since, the points lead in the 2013 campaign.  And he hasn't had to look back, much, since.

With his confidence and overall riding ability what they have become (and always been!), The Bullet is on the cusp of what could very well be the first of many more AMA Grand National Championships, and with his 11-point lead over rival Smith going into today's season wrap, has The Rolling Thunder Show lead held firmly in his grip and his sights set on job #1-keeping it!

In the shot above, Baker and Kevin Atherton roll out the #12 Dodge Brothers Racing/Specialty Fabrication/Saddlemen-backed XR750 prior to the rider intros at the Springfield Mile II last month on September 1.

Today's events at Pomona will be the end of what has been an up-and-down season for the greatest racing series on two wheels in the world.  With the weather delays and cancellations on the season, the lack of a tv package for the series, and no title sponsor in 2013, the series has had it's share of hits, and not good ones.

But the racing that has happened at each and every round of the season has been nothing short of the usual stellar events that the folks in Daytona have been putting out since taking control of the series since mid-2008 from the former powers-that-be in Ohio, and have continued to put on the great racing shows that fans, like myself, have loved and followed for decades.

And today's events will be available for free live streaming ala AMA Pro Flat Track's ProLive feature, so should you not be able to attend, like myself, you WILL be able to keep up with the action along with their usual great Live Timing link throughout the day.

Things are looking up for the 2014 season as per Dan Johnsen, AMA Pro Flat Track's manager, as they have been in talks with several 'large sponsors' to carry the load for the title sponsorship for the 2014 season, and have also been working on a reality-based tv show to better help showcase the series' great racing.

But today is what it is all about, in spite of the series' bright future--which keep in mind can and could get even brighter by people actually GOING to a race and taking in the entertainment offered, instead of and moaning about what they think is a bad deal from at home on their couches!  Keep that in mind the next time you make an errant comment that is filled with the hate-strewn negativity that fills social networks and racing forums of late, and get your a.. off the couch and go to one of these great events--this isn't your father's AMA Pro Flat Track, and the entertainment value alone, let alone the great racing which has always been present in the over five decades I have been following this great sport, is STILL there! 

Enough said--now let's go racing as we wish Brad Baker, Bryan Smith and Brandon Robinson and the rest of the racers, teams and sponsors on-hand today the very best of luck and the safest of conditions in what will surely be a day to remember on the left coast!

Go get 'em guys, and may the best man, team and machinery win and walk away with the 2013 AMA Grand National Championship!

AMA Pro Flat Track presented by J&P Cycles Riders Gear Up for Season Finale at LA County Fairplex

POMONA, Calif. (October 9, 2013) - The LA County Fairplex in Pomona, Calif. will play host to the athletes of AMA Pro Flat Track presented by J&P Cycles this Saturday, October 12, 2013 for the Law Tigers AMA Pro Flat Track Finals, brought to you by Pomona Valley Harley-Davidson and Harley-Davidson of Glendale. The world's top dirt track racers will throw a leg over their powerful large-displacement motorcycles and compete against one another for the 13th and final time on the professional stage this year.
Jared Mees #1, Bryan Smith #42, Steve Bonsey #80 and Henry Wiles #17 battle during heat race #1 at the Santa Rosa Mile on September 29, 2013.  With the main events being called due to rain, or 'heavy misting' as it was categorized, Mees and Wiles were eliminated from the title chase heading into today's final round of the season at the Pomona Half-Mile, with a total of 15-points separating title leader Brad Baker from Brandon Robinson in the 3rd-place for the championship hunt, with Smith lying 11-points back from The Bullet in 2nd-place.  AMA Pro Flat Track photo by Dave Hoenig.
Brad Baker (Dodge Bros Racing/Harley-Davidson) enters the weekend with very little margin for error atop the overall Grand National Championship point standings as he leads Flint, Mich. native Bryan Smith (Crosley Radio/Kawasaki) by just 11 markers on the leaderboard. Baker has accumulated just one win this season but his six total podiums are what have placed the 20-year-old in the driver's seat heading into the series' final weekend. The Dryad, Wash. product needs a second-place finish or better in this weekend's main event in order to clinch his first ever Grand National Championship.
Smith and Brandon Robinson (TJ Burnett Farms/Kawasaki) are the only two legitimate threats to catch Baker in the overall GNC point standings and, quite honestly, both Kawasaki pilots believe they have precisely what it takes, and for good reason. Robinson, who hails from Oxford, Pa., and Smith enter the Pomona Half-Mile with tremendous confidence after coming off stellar weekends at Springfield where they finished first and second, respectively, in both of the weekend's main events.
Henry Wiles has put together a very impressive 2013 campaign and the Winn, Mich. native enters the weekend sitting fourth in the GNC point standings. The 27-year-old has the opportunity to complete his finest season to date if he can put together another solid effort this weekend at Pomona.
Due to difficulties at the start to the 2013 season, Grand National Champion Jared Mees (Rogers Racing/Harley-Davidson) will not be able to defend his title in 2013. The Clio, Mich. product found himself in a pretty big hole early on this season after lackluster performances and injuries caused him to fall too far back in the standings to contend for another GNC title this time around. However, Mees has made up significant ground since his rough start; The 27-year-old now sits fifth in the overall standings and will look to finish strong at Pomona with hopes of carrying over some momentum into 2014.
Kenny Coolbeth (Harley-Davidson Motor/Harley-Davidson) enters the weekend sitting sixth in the overall GNC standings. The fan favorite from Morris, Conn. was last season's winner at the Pomona Half-Mile and will be looking for a repeat performance on Saturday in hopes of bettering his position in the final point standings.
An unfortunate string of injuries and setbacks have left Graham, Wash.'s Sammy Halbert (South East Harley-Davidson) unable to compete at several events this season but the 26-year-old insists he's ready for Pomona. Though Halbert currently sits 12th in the points, he typically excels on half-mile circuits and is one of the favorites for the win in the season's final race.
The Championship Hunt
Brad Baker leads the Grand National Championship points chase with 190 markers, 11 more than closest rival Bryan Smith (179) and third-place Robinson sits just another four back at 175. If Smith were to take the perfect points haul of 29 by winning the Dash for Cash, the Main and earning the bonus point for leading the most laps, Baker would need to finish in second to maintain his lead and take home the #1 plate. Even if Robinson shows the form he so brilliantly exhibited at Springfield, he'll need a little help from his rivals to put the other championship contenders out of the picture.
AMA Pro J&P Cycles Pro Singles
As close as the AMA Pro Grand National Championship chase has become over the last several weeks, the AMA Pro J&P Cycles Pro Singles have a title fight of their own that is worthy of just as much attention. Mead, Wash.'s Wyatt Maguire (Kirkland Racing/Yamaha YZ 450F) and Albion, New York's Ryan Wells (Waters Auto Body/Honda CRF450R) are separated by a mere five points in the standings (122-117) and the two have been battling it out against each other all season long.
Maguire needs to finish in second or better to capture his first ever J&P Cycles Pro Singles championship. In order for Wells to claim the title, it would require him to win the main event and for Maguire to come in at third place or worse.
Although reigning J&P Cycles Pro Singles champion and Davison, Mich. product Stephen Vanderkuur (Parkinson Brothers Racing/Honda CRF450R) doesn't look like he's going to have a shot at repeating this year, the 21-year-old has made a late run that has boosted him to third in the points heading into Pomona.  Vanderkuur was the victor here a year ago and he will be looking for a repeat performance come this Saturday. It would be a long shot, but if Vandderkuur wins in California with Maguire in 15th and Wells in 10th, then he would repeat as J&P Cycles Pro Singles champion.
Fan favorite and Willow Street, Pa. product Shayna Texter (Crosley Radio/Honda CRF450R) enters the weekend sitting fourth in the standings with 98 points to her credit. Texter stands alone as the only rider in the J&P Cycles Pro Singles division with multiple wins this season and she looks to give it one final push at Pomona to add to her already impressive 2013 season.
Live Streaming on AMA Pro Live
For fans that are unable to attend the event, AMA Pro Racing will be live streaming multiple channels of in-depth and behind-the-scenes multimedia content on the AMA Pro Live streaming video website. AMA Pro Live puts fans in the director's chair, allowing them to choose from a variety of viewpoints while listening in on series PA announcers Barry Boone and Scottie Deubler. Alongside the streaming video content, AMA Pro Live features Live Timing & Scoring data and play-by-play commentary via Twitter. 
Beginning at 2:30 p.m. PT (5:30 p.m. ET), fans will be able to tune in to watch live streaming of timed practice and qualifying, followed by opening ceremonies at 6:05 p.m. PT (9:05 p.m. ET). The day's racing festivities will conclude with the 16-lap J&P Pro Cycles Main Event at 9:10 p.m. PT (12:10 a.m. ET) and the 25-lap Grand National Championship Main Event at 9:40 p.m. PT (12:40 a.m. ET). As an added bonus for the fans, AMA Pro Live will continue to stream as the champions are crowned on victory podium following the races.

AMA Pro Live can be accessed from any computer, tablet or smart phone with Internet access. Log on and tune in at
Ticket Information
The Law Tigers AMA Pro Flat Track Finals are scheduled to take place on October 12, 2013 at the LA County Fairplex in Pomona, Calif. with opening ceremonies beginning at 6:05 p.m. local time. For tickets and more information regarding the event, please visit or call 818-881-6458.

About AMA Pro Flat Track presented by J&P Cycles 

AMA Pro Flat Track presented by J&P Cycles is a national motorcycle racing series in North America and is considered one of the oldest forms of motorcycle racing. Sanctioned by AMA Pro Racing, the Series is highly regarded as the most competitive form of dirt track racing in the world. The 2013 schedule consists of rounds on the country's finest flat track courses. For more information on AMA Pro Flat Track presented by J&P Cycles, please visit
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  

For additional information contact:
AMA Pro Racing Communications, (386) 492-1014,


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