Round 16 of the 2014 AMA Pro Flat Track Grand National Championship at the Pomona Half-Mile Flat Track Finals saw Bryan Smith take his series leading 5th win of the year, but it wasn't enough to keep Jared Mees on the #9 Rogers Racing XR750 (4th-place) from claiming his 2nd overall AMA Grand National Championship.
Mees, Smith and Jake Johnson on the #5 Lloyd Brothers Motorsports XR all came into the finale with a shot at the championship, separated by 16 points, and throughout the night Smith (heat #1) and Johnson won their heat races, with Mees finishing in 2nd to Johnson in heat #3 to see to it that all went on to race the extra points paying Dash. Smith went on to take the Dash for Cash, with Mees shadowing him home for 2nd just over .3 seconds back, and Johnson bringing it home in 5th for the final single point earned in the 4-lap race.
When it came to race time, it was all Smith on the #42 Villa-Esparza/Crosley Radio Kawasaki as he lead all 25-laps of the National main to take the win over Johnson by just over 1.4 seconds, with defending Grand National Champ Brad Baker (heat #2 winner, 3rd-place Dash) finishing in the 3rd-place just over 2.7 seconds behind Johnson. Mees did what he needed to claim the crown, though by finishing in the 4th-place spot, just over 2.3 seconds behind Baker to claim the championship by three points over Smith (279-276). Henry Wiles (2nd-place heat #2, 4th-place Dash), filling in for the injured Kenny Coolbeth, Jr., brought the #17 Zanotti Racing Harley-Davidson XR750 home in the 5th-place position, another .453 seconds behind Mees. As a result of his 2nd-place finish in the National main to go along with his 1 point earned for 5th-place in the Dash, Johnson ended the season in the 3rd-place position (264 points.)
In the shot above, all three riders in the hunt for the 2014 AMA Pro Flat Track Grand National Championship get ready to drop the hammer at round 14 of the 2014 season at the Springfield Mile II on August 31.
Bryan Smith on the #42 Villa-Esparza/Crosley Radio/Howerton Products-sponsored Kawasaki EX650, Jared Mees on the #9 Rogers Racing/Las Vegas H-D/Blue Springs H-D-backed Harley-Davidson XR750 and Jake Johnson on the #5 Rampur Winery/Lloyd Brothers Motorsports/Parkinson Brothers Racing-sponsored Kawasaki get into position before the crowded house at the Illinois State Fairgrounds in the build-up to the 25-lap National main over the Labor Day weekend.
Of note for their season stats, Mees, Johnson and Henry Wiles were the only three men to score points in all of the 15 rounds where points were counted (the Sturgis Half-Mile in August was canceled before the National main, so no points were awarded due to practice or qualifying). Smith, who missed out on the opening round at Daytona and was DQ'ed for the smoking motor incident at Calistoga, didn't score points at either of those rounds, yet still it only cost him the championship by three points! His series leading five wins on the season, to Mees' two wins kept him in the war all season long, let alone his Dash wins and points accumulated throughout the year. Johnson kept in the hunt all year via his extremely consistent finishes, amassing 8 top-3s on the year and 11 top-5s in the 15 points-scoring rounds.
Mees worst finish of the year, however, was a 12th-place finish in round 2 at Daytona, and his two wins, 9 top-3s and 14 top-5s were what nailed the #1 plate for the Michigan resident. Tuned by Kenny Tolbert, his Rogers Racing crew including Sammy Sweet kept his XRs humming along all season, as well as his Honda's in the Singles races to stamp out his second overall series championship to go along with his '09 Twins Series Championship.
A huge congrats to Jared Mees and the Rogers Racing team for earning the 2014 AMA Grand National Championship, a well-deserved effort put in by the team and for their nearly-flawless season along the way in doing so. Take a bow guys!
And a big round of applause to Bryan Smith and the Villa-Esparza guys for the win last night to go along with their other four triumphs this year (Springfield Mile I, record setting Kawasaki's first half-mile win at Hagerstown, Sacto Mile for the fourth time in-a-row, Colonial Downs), and to Jake Johnson and the Lloyd Brothers team for keeping it in the hunt all season and being the most diverse team in the paddock in offering Jake the machinery (Kawasaki, Harley-Davidson and Ducati) to be able to keep the hunt in sight throughout the year. Bravo to all!
Also, Kawasaki took the manufacturers championship over Harley-Davidson. Results here.
You can check out Andrea Wilson's report from Cycle News at Pomona last night here, the overall results here, and see what AMA Pro Flat Track had to say about the season finale below.
Kyle Johnson did what he had to do last night at the Pomona Half-Mile Flat Track Finals by finishing in 2nd-place on the #77J Parkinson Brothers Racing Honda behind event winner Davis Fisher on the #67M TJ Burnett Farms Honda in order to take the 2014 AMA Pro Flat Track Pro Singles Championship, making him the 6th Pro Singles Champion in the series' history since it's inception in the 2009 season.
After being injured at the penultimate round at Calistoga two weeks ago, Johnson came back in form after Fisher missed the Colonial Downs event due to injury, to take the crown by a single point over the Oregon resident (191-190).
In the shot above, Johnson and the #77J Parkinson Brothers Racing/Hot Rod Harley-Davidson/Motorcycle-Superstore.com-sponsored Honda CRF450R team head out to their grid position during rider intros for round 11 of the 2014 AMA Pro Flat Track Pro Singles Championship at the Indy Mile on August 8.
In 13 rounds of the season, Johnson took four wins (Knoxville, Lima, Hagerstown, Sacto Mile) and seven top-3s and eight top-5s to help secure his first of what should be many wins and championships ahead of the fine young man from Michigan.
A big tip of the helmet to KJ and the Parkinson Brothers Racing team for taking the 2014 AMA Pro Flat Track Pro Singles Championship, and to all of the fast and furious competitors in the feeder series that is pushing some great talent forward for the bright future of AMA Pro Flat Track. Great job by all!
POMONA, Calif. (Oct. 11, 2014) - Jared Mees knew what he had to do Saturday night at the AMA Pro Flat Track finale to wrap up the Grand National Championship overall title, and he did just that.
Mees rode his No. 9 Rodgers Racing Harley-Davidson to a fourth place finish at the Flat Track Finals at the LA County Fairplex in Pomona, Calif., and claimed the No. 1 plate by three points over Bryan Smith (279-276), who took the checkered flag in convincing fashion on his No. 42 Villa-Esparza/Crosley Radio Yamaha for the fifth time this year. The championship is the second overall for Mees after also claiming the No. 1 plate in 2012.
"It was a great year, a lot of fun, and I can't say enough for everybody (on my team)," Mees said. "This one was cool because I battled it out with my good friend." Mees, a Michigan resident, was methodical rather than dominant all year. Outside of a 12th place showing in the second race of the season-opening double header at Daytona, he never finished worse than fifth. While he won only two races, he was on the podium 10 times.
Bryan Smith on the #42 Villa-Esparza Kawasaki checks out from the field and took his series leading 5th win of the season last night at the Pomona Half-Mile Flat Track Finals, but it wasn't enough to keep Jared Mees on the #9 Rogers Racing H-D XR750 (behind Smith) from claiming the 2014 AMA Grand National Championship, his second overall series crown. AMA Pro Flat Track photo by Brian J. Nelson.
He was outstanding at every stop. His two wins came on half-mile tracks, but Mees was runner-up at the Peoria TT and third in four of the five races of a mile or further.
Jake Johnson put his No. 5 Ramspur Winery Harley-Davidson in second, and Brad Baker, the defending GNC champion, was third on his No. 1 Factory Harley-Davidson.
In his heat race, Mees had a great start and led the first few laps before Johnson took the top spot and cruised to the win. But Mees was second in his heat, punching his ticket to the Dash for Cash, where he was second to Smith. Mees then needed to only finish sixth or better in the main to clinch. "I knew Bryan and Baker were going to be the two toughest guys," Mees said. "Bryan did what he had to do today, he had to go out there and dominate, and he did. And I knew I had to get into that Dash, I knew that, mentally, I needed to get into that Dash, and I knew I either needed to beat him or be right there on him in the Dash, and I did it. I knew that would give me a good cushion in the main event to be able to run my own race."
Smith's shot at the title took a sudden turn two weeks ago at the Calistoga Half-Mile. He was leading the championship and riding at the front when his bike began to smoke and he was black flagged. He was later disqualified for failing to heed the black flag. Mees took second and had the points lead coming to Pomona. That meant even his series-best fifth victory of the year wasn't enough for Smith to grab the title.
"Jared's one (heck) of a competitor," Smith said. "He's been a thorn in my side the last half of my career. He's a good friend of mine, he did what he had to do. And I did what I had to do tonight, he did what he had to do this year, don't want to take anything away from him. It was a hard-fought year. I know I did everything I could all season long and we came up a little bit short. But everybody knows I'll be back strong next year."
Johnson finished the season comfortably in third in points, 15 behind Mees.
AMA Pro Flat Track Pro Singles
It didn't happen the way he might have scripted it, but the end result was a dream come true for Kyle Johnson.
Johnson finished second behind Davis Fisher at the Flat Track Finals and claimed the overall Pro Singles title by a single point (191-190). It's the first professional title for the promising 20-year-old from Michigan.
Coming into the event, Johnson's points lead was cut to just six points over Fisher following a crash at Calistoga, so the pilot of the No. 77J Parkinson Brothers Honda really had to earn the title. "It feels great," Johnson said. "Two weeks ago (at Calistoga) definitely didn't go as planned, didn't get the points we wanted, lost a lot to Davis. Coming in here, we knew Davis was going to be fast, he's been fast all season, just like we were. I knew we had to stay close, we didn't have to beat him. I got up to second place and I had a little bit of breathing room, I wasn't going to push, I knew we had the championship, and that's what our goal was."
After a run of four wins in five races in the summer, Johnson looked to be running away with the title. Then bad luck began to come his way. He also crashed hard at Peoria and finished outside the top 10 in three of the last six races coming into Pomona. But Johnson handled his business in the finale. He was the second-fastest qualifier for the main, behind Fisher on the No. 67M T.J. Burnett Farms Honda, but only by .031 seconds. In the main, Fisher jumped out to the lead and never looked back.
Instead, Johnson was really racing with third place finisher Jarod Vanderkooi on the 17F Johnny's Vintage Cycle Honda. As the race progressed though, Johnson began to gap Vanderkooi and the title was his.
Fisher said his season exceeded his expectations, and the strong finish is something to carry into next year. "It's not disappointing at all," Fisher said. "My goal was to get top 10 this year. To finish the season off a point behind Kyle is a pretty good feeling. I did the best I could the last two races."
AMA Pro Flat Track Pro Singles Top 5 finishers
1. Davis Fisher (TJ Burnet Farms/Honda)
2. Kyle Johnson (Parkinson Brothers Racing/ Honda)
3. Jarod Vanderkooi (Johnny's Vintage Motorcycle/ Honda)
4. Ryan Wells (KTM/KTM)
5. Ryan Foster (Thresher Communications/ Honda)
AMA Pro Flat Track Pro Singles Top 5 in standings
1. Kyle Johnson (191)
2. Davis Fisher (190)
3. Ryan Wells (171)
4. Jarod Vanderkooi (150)
5. Bronson Bauman (148)
AMA Pro Grand National Championship Top 5 finishers
1. Bryan Smith (Villa-Esparza, Crosley Radio/ Kawasaki)
2. Jake Johnson (Ramspur Winery/ Harley-Davidson)
3. Brad Baker (Harley-Davidson Motor Company/ Harley-Davidson)
4. Jared Mees (Rogers Racing/ Harley-Davidson)
5. Henry Wiles (Zanotti Racing/ Harley-Davidson)
AMA Pro Grand National Championship Top 5 in standings
1. Jared Mees (279)
2. Bryan Smith (276)
3. Jake Johnson (264)
4. Kenny Coolbeth (208)
5. Brad Baker (202)
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