Bryan Smith put his name in the record books again last night after taking the #42 Villa-Esparza/Crosley Radio Kawasaki to the win in round 6 of the AMA Pro Flat Track Grand National Championship at the Hagerstown Half-Mile, the first-ever win for Kawasaki on a half-mile track. Smith had previously given Kawi it's first-ever win on a mile oval when he took the Werner-Springsteen Racing Kawasaki to the win at the Indy Mile in August 2010.
In what was a long-time coming, the Michigan rider won his heat and the Dash for Cash on the Jeff Gordon/Dink Glidden-tuned and Barry Smith-built mount and then led laps 9-25 after early leader and early season points leader Kenny Coolbeth on the #2 Zanotti Racing XR750 went out after leading the first eight laps of the 25-lap National main.
Jared Mees, who had won the previous week at the Lima Half-Mile, tried to reel in Smith but came up just over .8 seconds short at the checkers, but due to Coolbeth's misfortune, inherited the points lead by just a single point over last night's 6th-place finisher, Jake Johnson on the #5 Lloyd Brothers Motorsports XR750 (104-103), with Coolbeth now in 3rd-place in the championship battle (99 points.)
Last year's AMA Pro Flat Track Saddlemen Rookie of the Year, Jake Shoemaker, took his #55 Montgomeryville Cycle Center Kawasaki to the final spot in the podium to make it his second year in-a-row to finish on the podium at Hagerstown. Brandon Robinson on the #44 USC Kawasaki and Sammy Halbert on the #7 South East H-D XR rounded out the top-5.
Of note, Henry Wiles took a provisional start after an early rough evening of 5th-place in his heat race and a 16th-place finish in his semi, to turn his evening around on the #17 Don's Kawasaki EX650 to garner an 8th-place finish and what very well could have been the ride of the night coming off the back row of the 19-rider National.
In the shot above, Smith on the #42 Villa-Esparza/Crosley Radio/Howerton Products-sponsored Kawasaki EX650 leads Kenny Coolbeth, Jr. on the #2 Zanotti Racing/Moroney's H-D/Burt Ives Honda-backed Harley-Davidson XR750 during heat race #1 at the Springfield Mile I on May 25. The two went on to finish 1-2 in the National main at the Illinois State Fairgrounds mile oval to start off the Twins Series season over the Memorial Day weekend.
The series has a two-week break before heading to the Pacific Northwest to do battle at the Grays Harbor Half-Mile on July 19 in the series first-ever visit to the track located in Elma, WA. for round 7 of the 2014 AMA Pro Flat Track Grand National Championship.
Cycle News' Larry Lawrence was on hand last night and filed this race report from the record setter at the Hagerstown Speedway, and you can also check the full results here thanks to the great folks on Fentress Blvd. in Daytona, the home of AMA Pro Flat Track.
As you read the press release below from AMA Pro Flat Track, we want to extend a big shout out to all of the cast and crew from the #42 Villa Esparza/Crosley Radio/Howerton Products Kawasaki team, including super wrenches and motor builders Jeff Gordon and Dink Glidden, and master bike builder Barry Smith (Bryan's hard-working and tough as nails father) for their great win last night, and to the man that helped get this program started some three years ago by building and putting together the great group of guys on this team, Rick Howerton, and for his vision and long-time determination and dream of building a machine to contend in The Rolling Thunder Show. Great job by all and you really deserve this great win to add to your first-ever win together at Sacramento three seasons ago and to your two AMA Grand National Twins Series Championships over the course of the previous two seasons that set the bar rolling for what you attained last night. Bravo!
HAGERSTOWN, Md. (July 5, 2014) - Bryan Smith put all the pieces together Saturday night as he rode his Villa-Esparza/Crosley Radio Kawasaki to an extraordinary AMA Pro Flat Track Hagerstown Half-Mile main event victory. Smith brushed off a charging Jared Mees for the majority of the race, as the two duked it out on just about every inch of the track. Smith's win marked the first time since 1996 that a rider aboard a motorcycle other than a Harley-Davidson finished atop the podium at Hagerstown.
Bryan Smith on the #42 Villa-Esparza Kawasaki leads Jared Mees on the #9 Rogers Racing XR750 in route to a record setting victory at the Hagerstown Half-Mile. Smith took his Jeff Gordon/Dink Glidden-tuned and Barry Smith-built Kawasaki to the first-ever half-mile win for the marque after also getting Kawi's first-ever win on a mile track at Indy in 2010 while riding for the Werner-Springsteen team. AMA Pro Flat Track photo by Dave Hoenig.
"I never would have guessed that I would come away with a win tonight," said an ecstatic Smith following his second win of the 2014 AMA Pro Flat Track season. "I don't think any of my competitors would have picked Jared (Mees) to come away with the Lima win last weekend or myself to come away with the win tonight. These specific tracks aren't my cup of tea but I'm very fortunate that I have a great group of guys behind me and that I was able to come away with the win. It felt great. I just put my head down. I've ridden a lot of laps with Jared (Mees). We're best friends as he only lives a few miles from me. I want to thank all of the fans here at Hagerstown, they always know how to put on a first-class event."
Though he rode stellar all night and certainly deserved the win, Smith benefitted immensely from a Kenny Coolbeth motorcycle malfunction on lap eight, causing the Zanotti Racing competitor's night to end early. Once Smith took the lead following Coolbeth's departure, he battled with Mees the rest of the way until he eventually earned some breathing room on lap 24 when he opened up a bit of distance from the Rogers Racing Harley-Davidson rider.
Smith cruised to the finish line after that and Mees earned himself an impressive second. Mees, who has earned top-five finishes in all but one race this season, sits atop the overall Grand National Championship point standings as the series rolls into Gray's Harbor.
Coming in third to round out the podium was Jake Shoemaker aboard his Montgomeryville Cycle Center Kawasaki. It was Shoemaker's best finish of the 2014 season by far, and the second-year GNC rider got it after starting ninth on the main event grid. Brandon Robinson, aboard his USC Kawasaki and Sammy Halbert, aboard his South East Harley-Davidson, both ran solid races to round out the top five, respectively.
Kyle Johnson needed every moment of the 16-lap Hagerstown Half-Mile Pro Singles main event to score his third straight victory and move into sole possession of the lead in the point standings. Johnson, on board the No. 77J Parkinson Brothers Honda, started second but was shuffled back in the pack after a heated start. Midway through the race, the Michigan rider passed Jarod Vanderkooi for third and set his sights on leaders Ryan Wells and Davis Fisher.
It looked like the lead Wells had built was going to be too much to overcome, but Johnson got around Fisher just before the white flag waved, then went wide of Wells for the lead on the backstretch and was able to pull in front entering turn 3 on the final trip around the clay half mile circuit. "We got off to kind of a rough start, we had our work cut out for us," said Johnson. "By the time I got into third, Ryan and Davis, they were out there. I just knew I had to keep pushing myself. But man, this has got to be the best win yet because I had to work for that one."
Wells looked to be cruising to the victory after getting out to the holeshot on his No. 94B GE Capital KTM, but the New York native had to settle for second after Johnson's late heroics. Fisher finished a solid third on his No. 67M TJ Burnett Farms Honda. It's the fourth straight podium for the Oregonian. Vanderkooi and Dan Bromley rounded out the top 5, finishing fourth and fifth, respectively.
Johnson entered the race tied atop the standings with Brandon Wilhelm, who finished 10th. Wells leavers Hagerstown two points behind Johnson and Fisher sits just two behind Wells.
The stars of AMA Pro Flat Track will head to Elma, Wash. for the Grays Harbor Half-Mile at Grays Harbor Raceway on July 19, 2014. Footage of the Hagerstown Half-Mile will be available to view on AMA Pro Racing's YouTube portal at www.youtube.com/amaprovids in the coming days.
How to Watch
FansChoice.tv will be the official home for live streaming coverage of AMA Pro Flat Track and AMA Pro Road Racing events in 2014. The site will also provide coverage of IMSA's development and single-make series, and NASCAR's touring and weekly series.
About AMA Pro Flat Track
AMA Pro Flat Track 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 2014 schedule consists of 16 rounds on the country's finest flat track courses. For more information on AMA Pro Flat Track, please visit www.amaproracing.com/ft.
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