2013 AMA Grand National Champion Brad Baker was a monster in the 2013 AMA Pro Flat Track presented by J&P Cycles Grand National Championship season, in winning two races, garnering eight podiums (one of which his points were taken away due to a protest filed at the Daytona Short Track II round where questionable use of improper front forks caused his finish to be questioned) and 12 top-5 finishes for the 13-round season. His only blip on the radar for his otherwise stellar season was a 19th-place finish at the Colonial Downs round in late August when his motor on his #12 Dodge Brothers Racing H-D XR750 went south during the early going of the National main.
Not bad for the fine young man out of Washington State, who had battled equipment and team issues throughout the 2012 season, and after earning the 2011 AMA Pro Flat Track Saddlemen Rookie of the Year while earning nine top-5 finishes on the season while piloting the Lloyd Brothers Motorsports Ducati in the Twins Series and his own Honda's in the Singles Series. Oh, and not to mention also capturing the 2013 AMA Grand National Twins Series Championship after his 2nd-place finish at the Peoria TT in early August, to go along with his 2009 AMA Pro Flat Track Pro Singles Championship in the first year of the junior series on the schedule.
And now at the ripe young age of 20 years old, Baker has become the 3rd-youngest AMA Grand National Champion (or the fourth youngest if you consider Jay Springsteen had captured the '76-'77 titles at age 18 and 19.) No matter how you spin the numbers, Bad Brad 'The Bullet' Baker has put together some very impressive numbers in nailing down his first of what could be many titles in The Rolling Thunder Show.
In the shot above, Baker and his #12 Dodge Brothers Racing/Sefnco Communications/Specialty Fabrication-sponsored XR750 team head out for the rider intros prior to the Indy Mile in round 8 of the 2013 AMA Pro Flat Track presented by J&P Cycles Grand National Championship season on August 17. Team coach and rider strategist and former AMA Grand National #23 Kevin Atherton guides the immaculately prepared Harley-Davidson out to the line while his father, Dave Atherton, and the man behind the brains and brawn that powered Baker's XR throughout the year follows closely behind with the starter motor. The Bullet pulled off a 3rd-place finish that night, one of his eight top-3s of the season, behind eventual winner Bryan Smith, the man Baker fought with throughout the season and at the final round in what was one of the best and closest battles on a half-mile track in what seems like ages, and 2nd-place finisher at Indy Brandon Robinson, who also battled with the duo to the end for the elusive championship honors.
To read more about the final round of the season, check out this great story from Cycle News' Andrea Wilson, who did a fine job of covering the season-finale on the left coast.
And for a super recap of Baker's season, Cycle News' Larry Lawrence does another fine job of touting the superior year that The Bullet had in 2013 in this story out this week. And a big thanks, again, to LL for putting up with me and dragging me along to the races this season-it was a grand time as it has been for the last four seasons and who makes the race weekends even more enjoyable and fun then what they already are--you are a fine man and a great friend and I appreciate all you have done to help me out and show me the ropes!
Last but not least, a big tip of the helmet and a hearty congrats to Brad Baker, for doing only what two other men younger than him have done in the over 60 years of racing in the AMA Grand National Championship, and for never getting down, letting up or hitting any major bumps (okay, maybe just one at Colonial Downs, but who's counting, right?!) along the way to capture what is surely the first of many more AMA Grand National Championships. You da man dude, so take a big bow as you and the Dodge Brothers Racing team and the Atherton Family deserve it for such super year and for being a wise old man for a wise young man. Great job!
AMA Pro Flat Track presented by J&P Cycles Recap: Pomona Half-Mile
Defending Grand National Champion Jared Mees (Rogers Racing/Harley-Davidson) finished fourth at Pomona and in the overall standings. Though Mees had a below-average season for his undoubtedly high standards, he did manage to rebound after early-season woes and a mid-season injury that cost him severe ground in the points. Mees finished with one win and four podiums in 2013 and will strive to improve on those results and compete for the overall GNC again next season.
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