Round 11 of the 2014 AMA Pro Flat Track Grand National Championship at the legendary Indy Mile was the first of a stretch run to the championship for the regulars on The Rolling Thunder Show, in which Kenny Coolbeth, Jr. took the #2 Zanotti Racing/Moroney's H-D/Burt Ives Honda-sponsored H-D XR750 to the win under the lights of the Indiana State Fair as a backdrop. Coolbeth won his first mile since the Minnesota event in late 2011 and also earned the 32nd AMA Grand National victory of his career, as well as breaking the mile win streak held by Bryan Smith's Kawasaki since the Virginia Mega Mile in August 2013 when Jared Mees last took an XR750 to a win on a big track.
But there were many other stories to be told at Indy, and we have some brief glimpses at some of them.
Smith's #42 Villa-Esparza/Crosley Radio/Howerton Products-backed Kawasaki set fast time at Indy and was considered the favorite hands down going into the race what with his overall dominance of mile racing of late, and the way he romped away in last year's main event at Indy. His crew of Jeff Gordon, Dink Glidden and father, Barry Smith, stayed on top of it all evening and Flyin' Bryan still got a 3rd-place finish in the Dash-after winning his heat-and worked his way into the 2nd-place spot in the 25-lap National main to finish just over 2.4 seconds behind winner Coolbeth.
For a track that has treated him pretty well the last couple of years (after nearly ending his career in 2009), Indy was pretty cruel to Brandon Robinson and the #44 USC Kawasaki/Hart Racing/Stevens Racing-sponsored Kawasaki this year. Qualifying 17th out of the 38 riders who took a timed lap, BRob44 was able to keep within just over 1.6 seconds of fast heat 2 winner Coolbeth to make the Dash. But a 6th-place in the Dash and a blown motor in the main left him with a 17th-place finish in the main, and dropping him to 7th-place in the championship standings. Never fear, this hard-charging and hard working young man will be back, and with a bang not like what his motor experienced last Friday night.
Mikey Martin on the #91 Bonneville Performance/Factory Triumph Racing/Castrol Racing-sponsored Triumph Bonneville was the only Triumph to make the main at Indy, and had his best result of the season on the big tracks with a 12th-place finish.
Steve Murray was able to put his #51 Murray Mechanical/American Harley-Davidson/Stauffer Motors-backed XR750 into the main at Indy after a 3rd-place finish in semi race 2 behind Rob Pearson and Jake Shoemaker. The perennial funny man of AMA Pro Flat Track had a short night, unfortunately, after a broken cam put him out just 11 laps in and an 18th-place finish to show for his hard work.
For the first time in recent memory, Willie McCoy missed a mile main event on his #59 H-D of Wausau/Tucker Rocky/Independence H-D-sponsored XR750 after qualifying 20th on the day. A 5th-place in heat 2 and .207 seconds out of the final transfer in semi 1 relegated him to the truck before the main headed to the start line. Never fear, the 2-time Springfield Mile winner will be back to wow us again at Springfield in just over two weeks.
Cory Texter his having his best ever year in the AMA Pro Flat Track Grand National Championship. Qualifying in the 13th-place spot for the program, Texter took the long road to get to the National after a 6th-place finish in heat 1, but fought tooth and nail in semi 1 along with winner Nichole Mees for the entire 8-lap race, coming up just over .7 seconds shy on the #65 Racing Unlimited/McElroy Packing/Invisible Glass-sponsored Kawasaki. His 11th-place finish at Indy was his second best finish of the season (Sacramento Mile 10th-place being his best) and his battle throughout the evening for the top-10 with Rob Pearson and Mikey Martin was well fought throughout the 25-lap main.
Last year's AMA Pro Pro Singles Indy main winner, Shayna Texter, had a rough go of it at Indy and missed the field on the #25A Latus Motors/Triumph/Castrol Oil-backed Triumph Bonneville. After qualifying 25th, a 7th-place finish in heat 1 and a DNF in semi 2 left her out of the National main. Here she leads Shawn Baer on the #32 Baer Racing Products/KB 5/Kam's Performance-sponsored KTM LC8 950 and Cody Johncox on the #96B Dick Ford/Sunnyside/Brush-Eaken Racing-backed XR750 during the final round of qualifying. Neither Baer nor Johncox made the main, either.
Canada's Doug Lawrence took his #73 Lawrence Racing/Wiebler's Harley-Davidson/Jon Castin Racing-sponsored XR750 to a 13th-place finish after a direct transfer to the main with a 4th-place finish in heat race 3.
2010 AMA Pro Flat Track Pro Singles Champ Jeffrey Carver, Jr. rode his fourth different make of motorcycle into the main at Indy last Friday night, starting off with an impressive 8th-place qualifying effort on the #23 Lombardi's Harley-Davidson/Dan Dafner/Carver's BBQ-sponsored XR750, and culminating with a 14th-place finish in the 25-lap main event.
Sammy Halbert first tried out one of Bill Werner's Kawasakis during practice at Indy two years ago, but without enough time to get things sorted out, went back to his tried and true XR750, which he took to the win in 2012. This year, The Slammer showed up with his freshly-built #7 South East H-D/White's H-D/DC10-sponsored Kawasaki and took a 5th-place qualifying effort to start the day's events off with. With a 4th-place finish and a direct transfer to the main in heat race 2, Sammy went on to finish in the 15th-place spot in the National, never in contention at the front, but he held onto the 5th-place spot into the championship heading to the Peoria TT this weekend.
2000 AMA Grand National Champion Joe Kopp is the senior man on the Latus Motors squad this season, trying to help the team and new rider Shayna Texter come to grips with the factory Triumph-backed efforts. After a 5th-place overall practice effort, Kopp qualified the #3 Latus MotorsTriumph/Triumph/Castrol-sponsored Triumph Bonneville machine in the 22nd overall spot, and was running in the top-3 in heat race 1 before an electrical problem sidelined him with just two laps to go. In semi race 1, the same electrical malady sidelined him just three laps in after running near the front and what could or would have been a shot at the main.
In the AMA Pro Flat Track Pro Singles class, this year's class has been deep with talent, but has been overshadowed by Kyle Johnson, Jarod Vanderkooi and David Fisher. Vanderkooi came out on top of a big battle at the front of last Friday's Pro Singles main to take the win, with Johnson in a dead heat at the line. The margin of victory was .000 seconds and it took AMA Pro Flat Track officials until the cool off lap was complete to determine for sure that Ohio-resident Vanderkooi had nipped series points leader and wins leader Johnson by a wheel spoke. Unfortunately, TJ Burnett Farms' Fisher had a rough get off coming out of turn four on the final lap that put him into the airfence and on the ground, and will see him out of action for the next couple of races.
The Pro Singles main event riders line up in the shot above with Ryan Foster on the #23Y Bob Weirbach Race Team/Ross Powersports-sponsored Honda CRF450R (4th-place), Davis Fisher on the #67M TJ Burnett Farms/Bob Lanphere's-backed Honda (16th-place), winner Vanderkooi on his #17F Johnny's Vintage Motorcycle/Scott Drummond-backed Honda, 2nd-place finisher and points leader Johnson on the #77J Parkinson Brothers Racing/Hot Rod Harley-Davidson-sponsored Honda, and Nick McFadden on the #18C Arai Helmets/Pilot Leathers-backed Honda (8th-place.)
Again, a big thanks to AMA Pro Flat Track for another stellar event, and to the great folks at Family Events for promoting another big bang effort at the Indiana State Fairgrounds. A grand time was had by all and Stu's Shots salutes you and all of the riders, teams and sponsors for making The Rolling Thunder Show the best racing on two wheels in the world that it is!
AMA Pro Flat Track recap of last week's Rounds 9, 10, & 11
DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (August 12, 2014) - A race won by milliseconds, an unprecedented victory by a Harley-Davidson on a mile track, a flooded front-stretch, a milestone win for one Grand National Championship contender - these are just a few things that defined last week's AMA Pro Flat Track action, that took place in three separate time zones all across the United States.
The week started with Round 9 on Aug. 2, in Castle Rock, Wash. when the series visited Castle Rock Race Park for the Castle Rock TT (Tourist Trophy). Henry Wiles, aboard his Don's Kawasaki, used a move late in the race to pass Mikey Rush to earn his 25th GNC win of all time and become the second-most winningest TT rider in series history.
Though he has been so successful in TT competition throughout his career, it was Wiles' first win at the Northwest venue. "I really like coming to Castle Rock," said Wiles. "The fans are always so hardcore and it's just an honor to race there every time."
Though he coughed up the lead, Mikey Rush's second place finish aboard his Cascio Rush Racing Honda was far and away his best finish of the 2014 season. "I can't complain at all about landing on top of the box at Castle Rock," said Rush. "I've been sitting out a lot of races this year and to come back like I did is just awesome."
After a tough season so far for the defending Grand National Champion, Brad Baker finally landed on the podium at Castle Rock. The No. 1 plate holder, aboard his Brothers Power Sports Honda, even contested for the lead at times throughout the race. "It feels amazing to get my first podium of the year," said Baker. "I was on the box a lot last year and to finally get my first one here this year feels amazing. After a rough outing at Daytona on my Honda, it felt great to bust it out of the stable and perform well on it."
In AMA Pro Flat Track Pro Singles action at Castle Rock, Dominic Colindres won his second consecutive Castle Rock TT. Colindres did so riding his Motorcycle Superstore Honda to a 6.120-second win margin. "It was a perfect night," said Colindres. "We rolled my motorcycle off the truck and didn't change a thing. I felt great all day and came out first in practice and set the fastest time. I can't thank my dad and my mom enough for all of their support and for sticking with me through all these races."
Following the Castle Rock TT, the series then headed east for the Black Hills Half-Mile in Black Hills, S.D., but unfortunately, torrential downpours caused the midweek showdown to be completely canceled.
AMA Pro Flat Track's next stop on the schedule was the famed Indy Mile in Indianapolis, which ran on Aug. 8. Kenny Coolbeth, riding his Zanotti Racing Harley-Davidson, stole the show with a dominating 2.470-second victory, on a Harley-Davidson, and has now earned three main event wins in 2014.
"It's good to finally beat Bryan Smith on a mile, that's the biggest thing," said Coolbeth. "That's his forte, he's got great equipment for it and he rides it well. I just wanted to regroup after the last couple races. I'm happy with everything right now and the people I have working behind me."
Brad Baker #1, Jake Johnson #5, Brandon Robinson #44, Jared Mees #9, Bryan Smith #42 and Kenny Coolbeth, Jr. #2 take off in the Dash for Cash event at the Indy Mile on August 8, where Johnson went on to earn the five extra bonus points with the win in round 11 of the 2014 AMA Pro Flat Track Grand National Championship. AMA Pro Flat Track photo by Dave Hoenig.
Bryan Smith entered the race as the favorite to earn his third Indy Mile victory in four seasons. However, it was second place that the Flint, Mich., product had to fight for down the stretch. Fortunately for him, he was able to seal the impressive runner-up finish aboard his Villa-Esparza/Crosley Radio Kawasaki. "It was definitely a scrap the whole time," said Smith. "Kenny (Coolbeth) did exactly what I did last year. He got out front and let everyone race for second. Jared (Mees) and I were going at it a few times for sure as it was just a battle from second place on."
Mees' third place finish aboard his Rogers Racing Harley-Davidson was his sixth podium of the season and his consistency in 2014 has him atop the overall point standings. Mees emerged from the stretch with a single-point advantage in the GNC title hunt over Smith (182-181).
In AMA Pro Flat Track Pro Singles action in Indianapolis, Jarod Vanderkooi continued to impress in what isn't even a full season for the youngster, since he was too young to compete as a professional in the season opener at Daytona. The 16-year-old took the checkered flag at the famed Indy Mile with a draft pass by Kyle Johnson on the final stretch.
"Getting a win by not even half a wheel is awesome," Vanderkooi said. "I wanted to go into Turn 3 and hopefully draft ahead for the win." The demanding stretch of race dates wore on all the competitors, including Vanderkooi, but the young Ohioan was the lucky one to get the week off with the sweet taste of victory still fresh. "It was a long time on the road, about 7,000 miles, but it was all worth it now," Vanderkooi said.
Johnson was happy to bounce back with a strong finish. Even though he wasn't on the top of the podium, he was able to regain the points lead he lost after the season's only other TT event, the Castle Rock TT. "We kind of had a rough weekend last week at Castle Rock, we were 11 points back," Johnson said. "So we're four points in the lead now. Hopefully we can get a couple more wins this season and come away with this points championship."
Nick Armstrong was confident coming off a podium finish in another mile, the Sacramento Mile, just weeks ago. The Californian rolled off the truck with speed, but his night wasn't easy. "First practice I thought I had a bike that could be on the podium," Armstrong said. "I did well at Sacramento and later in the night here (at Indy) the track felt pretty similar, it was a little more hooked up. But about halfway through (the main event) I didn't think I had it. I lost my brakes out there. So I was just trying to roll it in, be smooth and keep it on the groove. I slipped off a few times over there in (turns) 3 and 4, and I would lose a spot. But coming to get the checkered, I was pretty close to those two."
Top 10 in points in AMA Pro Flat Track GNC Combined
1. Jared Mees 182
2. Bryan Smith 181
3. Jake Johnson 174
4. Kenny Coolbeth 157
5. Sammy Halbert 138
6. Brad Baker 118
7. Brandon Robinson 117
8. Henry Wiles 115
9. Stevie Bonsey 105
10. Briar Bauman 82
Top 10 in points in AMA Pro Flat Track Pro Singles
1. Kyle Johnson 146
2. Davis Fisher 142
3. Ryan Wells 121
4. Jarod Vanderkooi 100
5. Bronson Bauman 100
6. Brandon Wilhelm 99
7. Dan Bromley 98
8. Dylan Morin 70
9. Dominic Colindres 69
10. Kolby Carlile 52
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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