Sunday, September 13, 2015

Reviewing Round 12 of the 2015 AMA Pro Flat Track Grand National Championship as Bryan Smith Takes Another Win at the Springfield Mile II and Makes a Race for the Crown

Round 12 of the AMA Pro Flat Track Grand National Championship Harley-Davidson GNC1 presented by Vance & Hines series saw a great battle in the 25-lap National main at the Springfield Mile II last weekend between the top-2 in the championship standings, but in the end Bryan Smith on the #42 Crosley Brands/Howerton Motorsports/Villa-Esparza-sponsored and Kawasaki-backed EX650 pulled out all the stops and saved his tire to take the win in front of a packed Labor Day house at the Illinois State Fairgrounds oval. The win was Smith's second of the year at the mecca of speed, and fifth overall in points races (after also having earlier in the season won the non-points XGames event in Texas) and put him in solid contention for the championship crown against defending AMA Grand National Champion Jared Mees.

With the Howerton team of Jeff Gordon and Ricky Howerton (above, rolling out during the rider intros at Springfield on September 6), along with team wrench Dink Glidden, heading up the charge, Smith was able to save his tire and get the advantage on the last lap to take the win over Mees by .026 seconds and 3rd-place finisher and former 2-Time AMA Grand National Champ Jake Johnson by .027 seconds in what was a near photo finish of the classic battle the three front runners had put on during the whole race.

One of the feel-good happenings at Springfield saw Nichole Mees on the #15 Willie McCoy/H-D of Wausau Harley-Davidson XR750 take her first heat race win of her great career at Springfield, beating out the likes of Jake Johnson (above, during qualifying on the #5 Harley-Davidson Motor Co/Screaming Eagle Performance Parts/Arai Helmets-sponsored factory XR), Doug Lawrence and rookie of the year standout Jarod Vanderkooi. Mees, on the #15 Black Hills H-D/Jerry Kennedy/Wausau H-D-backed XR750 had the fans in the stands rocking with her heat race win in what is her swan song final season of racing before hanging up her steel shoe to concentrate full time on her teaching career. There weren't too many dry eyes in the house when she rolled onto the podium to celebrate the heat race #1 win, and it was well-deserved.

Jared Mees on the #1 Las Vegas H-D/Rogers Racing/Harley-Davidson Motor Co.-backed XR750 did all he could do to keep Flyin' Bryan honest during the 25-lap main at Springfield, but came up inches short in taking the win. He did, however, retain the points lead in the championship by one point (177-176 points) over his Michigan rival and close friend.

Above, the Rogers Racing team of Mees, Kenny Tolbert and Sammy Sweet wait out the red flag stoppage during the second round of qualifying at Springfield brought on by the get-off by Johnny Lewis on the #10 Lloyd Brothers Motorsports Ducati. Unfortunately, Lewis suffered a concussion and what was suspected as a rebreak of a former ankle injury and his day was done when he was wheeled out of the LBM pits by the ambulance. It's been a rough year for the Lloyd Boys between Lewis' get offs at both Springfields and former 3-Time World Superbike Champ Troy Bayliss crash at the Sacto Mile in late May, and unfortunately not only was their day done, but their season as well. At least Lewis' injuries weren't ultra serious and he'll be back another day to fight the good fights, as I am sure the team headed up by Mike and Dave Lloyd will, as well.

Sammy Halbert won the Dash for Cash on his #69 Briggs Auto/Martin Trucking/Lucas Oil-sponsored and Johnny Goad-tuned Kawasaki, getting the extra point and the pole spot for the start in the Grand National main at Springfield. The tough-as-nails Kawi pilot and Washington State resident finished the day in the 4th-place spot after running at the front with the top-6 and kept his hopes in the fight for the championship with his 3rd-place in the standings (156 points.) The Slammer also kept his streak of top-9 finishes on the year intact with his run at the Labor Day weekend extravaganza.

Brandon Robinson led a lap a ran in the top-6 during the National main at Springfield on the Brent Armbruster-wrenched #44 Latus Motors/Castrol/Triumph America-sponsored Triumph Bonneville. BRob's day almost came to a sudden end on the last lap of the final, though while racing with former Grand National Champ Kenny Coolbeth, Jr. Coming through turn 3 and heading towards turn 4, the draft closed up sucking Brandon in, where he came into slight contact with Coolbeth, thankfully with both able to gather it up without going down, but Robinson in the process caught the inside guard rail with his left hand tearing a nasty gash into his clutch hand. He still brought it home in 6th-place behind Coolbeth, and still has a lock on 5th-place in the championship standings behind KC2 (143-123 points) heading into the Roar at the Shore in Delaware on Saturday, September 19.

Dashin' Davis Fisher continued his domination of not only Springfield this year in the AMA Pro GNC2 class, but in his grasp of the championship lead for the title. After having to restart his heat from the back row on a back up, the youngster and future of AMA Pro Flat Track's Rolling Thunder Show whittled his way through the field to take the win in his heat, and in the final led all 12 laps to take the win on the #67M Parkinson Brothers Racing/Bob Lanphere Beaverton Motorcycles/Dan Wall Racing-backed Kawasaki. It was the Washington State rider's third win of the year and eight top-2 finish. Davis now has a huge lead in the championship standings heading to Delaware over Jamison Minor (181-130 points) and could feasibly wrap it up next Saturday.

One of the other feel-good events of the day at Springfield was seeing former Springfield winner Shayna Texter get it all together to put it in the field for her first National main start of the season on the #52 Richie Morris Racing/McElroy Packaging/Brain Leathers-sponsored Kawasaki. In the first qualifying session, the young lady from Pennsylvania had put it in the top-4 and eventually put herself into the starting field with a 27th-place spot out of the 45 riders who took a timed lap, and she worked her magic with her new team to make the National main in heat race #3 coming home behind winner Sammy Halbert, Jared Mees and her older brother Cory Texter (more on CTex below). Seeing her and her brother race together in not only their heat but in the main was a wonderful sight, and with Nichole Mees also in the field made for the first time in AMA Grand National history that two women had made a main event at the same time. VERY COOL!

Shayna finished the day in a solid 10th-place, and got the monkey off her back after suffering through the first 2/3's of the season with not looking like things were working out for her. With her new digs with the RMR team, she now is not only looking more comfortable, but more confident as well. Watch out boys, if she gets hot, this could make for an even better show then what the series has been offering anyway!

Cory Texter just recently unveiled his new #65 Cory Texter Racing/Cycle World Magazine/McElroy Packaging-sponsored Kawasaki Vulcan mount, and was able to put it in the field at Springfield with a solid 3rd-place finish in his heat while battling with his younger sister Shayna (see above). They put on a fine show racing side-by-side in Springfield, and this time Shayna won out with CTex bringing it home in the 11th-place spot. CTex has dubbed his new mount 'The Black Hammer' and not only is it fitting, but it hits strong and hard as well.

Rookie of the Year lock and Ohio-resident Jarod Vanderkooi continued to impress at Springfield by taking an 8th-place finish on the #17F Don's Kawasaki/DPC Racing/Floyd Tapp-backed Kawasaki EX650. Qualifying 10th, the youngster and future of AMA Pro Flat Track took his 4th-place finish in heat race #1 to card himself his starting spot on the second row of the National main. His 8th-place finish was his third-best effort of the year (7th DuQuoin, 5th Charlotte) and he now sits solidly in the 12-place spot of the standings with three rounds to go.

The top-6 in the National main weren't spread out much more than this during the 25-lap final, and at times put on a show typical of great mile racing, drafting and moving and shuffling back and forth throughout the just shy of 15 minute race. It was without a doubt one of the best recent main events to watch as these six guys wowed the crowd and the folks like me on the track as they came by lap-after-lap going for it.

This was just past the half-way point as Smith on the #42 Crosley/Howerton Kawasaki leads into turn 1, with Jared Mees on the #1 Las Vegas H-D Rogers Racing XR, Sammy Halbert on the #69 Briggs Auto/Martin Trucking Kawasaki, Jake Johnson on the #5 H-D Motor Co/Arai XR, Brandon Robinson on the #44 Latus Motors/Castrol Triumph and Kenny Coolbeth, Jr. on the #2 Zanotti Racing/H-D Motor Company XR all trying to keep in the draft.

Smith lead the majority of laps on the day with 14 at the front, followed by Mees with 8, Jake with 2 and Robinson with 1. But that was just at the stripe. There were many others throughout the race all over the track with all of the drafting and shuffling going on.

Of note-Coolbeth had to win his semi to make it to the show, and made a charge off the third row that saw him in the top-8 within the first lap or two of the main, and finishing in the 5th-place spot for what surely will earn him the MotoBatt Hard Charger Award for the race. He was a man on fire at the start, and throughout, and Dave Atherton had KC's XR humming for the day!!

With two laps to go, Sammy Halbert took his turn trying to latch onto and get around Bryan Smith, and just past the stripe got a wheel on him, but Smith, who managed his tire the best of anyone in the top-4 to be able to slip out front in the run to the checkers over Mees and Johnson. In the tech teardown area, Smith's tire had enough tread he could probably still run another heat race on it, Johnson's would have made a few more laps without any problems, but Mees' tire was visibly chunked and ravaged.

One of the great things about the best racing on two wheels in the world show is every once in awhile a new, or long-time player in the sport finally breaks through to make it to the show and gain a National number. Last Sunday at Springfield, that person was Kentucky's own Zakk Palmer, the former Pro Singles Springfield winner putting his beautiful #81C Palmer Racing/Western Hills Honda-Yamaha/Durelle Racing Products-sponsored Kawasaki into the show via his 3rd-place finish in his semi behind Coolbeth and Stevie Bonsey. Palmer finished in the 15th-place spot on the day, on the lead lap and will lose his letter for next year as he earned his National number the hard-fought way. Good for you man, great job!

Heat race #1 blasts off to start the racing for the day at the Springfield Mile I on Sunday, September 6 with 2010-11 AMA Grand National Champ Jake Johnson leading the field heading towards turn 1 on the #5 H-D Motor Co factory XR. In hot pursuit are Nichole Mees on the #15 Wausau H-D of Willie McCoy/Black Hills H-D-sponsored XR, Doug Lawrence on the #73 Glidden Racing/Dreyer Motorsports/Tucker Rocky-backed KawiJarod Vanderkooi on the #17F Don's Kawasaki/DPC Racing-backed Kawi and Steve Bonsey on the #80 Cliff Racing/Dodge Brothers Racing/Classic H-D-backed XR.

Nichole led Jake, Doug and Jarod home to take her first-ever heat race win at the Springfield Mile, and ended up finishing the day in the 16th-place spot in the main after brushing the wall on the back straight hard enough to wear a hole in her boot and bend her shifter, all the while keeping it on two wheels and out of harms way.

Lawrence took a 9th-place finish in the main on just his fourth time on the Glidden/Dreyer Kawi, while Bonsey worked his way into the main via his 2nd-place in semi race #1 behind Kenny Coolbeth, Jr. The Salinas, CA. resident finished the day with a very strong 7th-place finish in the main to keep a stronghold on 9th-place in the standings.

Bonsey on the #80 Cliff Racing XR drafts outside former Rookie of the Year Briar Bauman on the #14 USC/Hart Racing/Stevens Racing Kawasaki during one of the qualifying sessions at Springfield. Bonsey (as noted above) finished the day in the 7th-place spot in the National main, but Bauman was relegated to the truck after crashing hard in heat race #1 after contact. He was mostly unhurt, but his bike was all but destroyed in the wild crash. Bauman still has a stranglehold on the 6th-place spot in the overall standings (108 points) in spite of not making the main.

You can check out the full results of the day here thanks to AMA Pro Flat Track, and Cycle News' own Larry Lawrence put together a great report on all the happenings at the Springfield Mile II which you can check out here as well.

Next up, the men and women of The Rolling Thunder Show head to the Roar on the Shore in Delmar, Delaware for a new event this Saturday, September 19 in what will surely be another stellar event on the series' calendar.

A big thanks to Tommra Kiesow for again heading up the team that put on another super event at the Illinois State Fairgrounds mile oval. You guys rock and put on the best of shows and we thank you for your great support of this wonderful sport we all love!

Bryan Smith wins epic Springfield Mile II to tighten Harley-Davidson GNC1 presented by Vance & Hines points chase

SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (Sept. 6, 2015) - In an epic finish that came down to the final lap, Bryan Smith edged out a fast field of AMA Pro Flat Track stars to capture his whopping sixth Harley-Davidson GNC1 presented by Vance & Hines victory of the 2015 season.
Smith's win puts him a single point behind defending GNC1 champion Jared Mees in the championship hunt with three rounds remaining. The Michigan native deftly double drafted past Mees and Jake Johnson on the final lap to snatch the victory. With four out of five Mile wins aboard his No. 42 Crosley Radio Kawasaki in 2015, Smith continues to cement his legacy as the top Mile-circuit rider of his generation.
"On the last corner, I was wondering where Johnson came from, he about schooled Jared and I," said Smith. "It was just a fun race. We were all so fast, and I was just trying to consistently stay out front but conserve my tire at the same time. It's literally like threading the needle out there. I didn't win the Dash for Cash so I'm pretty bummed about that but I'll take the main event win over the dash any day."
Like most of his recent wins on a Mile course, Smith had to fight for this one. In fact, the gap between Smith and second- and third-place finishers, Mees and Johnson, was a mere .027 seconds. Johnson held the lead coming out of turn four of the final lap before coughing up the lead to Smith at the finish line, eventually finishing third.
Bryan Smith on the #42 Crosley/Howerton Kawasaki leads the field into turn 3 on the first lap of the 25-lap National main at the Springfield Mile II on September 6, and went on to score his second victory of the season on the Illinois State Fairgrounds oval, and fifth of the season overall to jump within one point of series points leader and defending AMA Grand National Champion Jared Mees. AMA Pro Flat Track photo by Brian J. Nelson.
Second-place finisher Mees rode his No. 1 Las Vegas Harley-Davidson hard on Sunday, and he almost pulled off the upset in front of a jam-packed audience at the Illinois State Fairgrounds. The defending champion leaves the Midwest with a one-point lead over Smith in the standings as the two head into the season's final three rounds.
Although he experienced the bitter sweetness of finishing third, Johnson performed extraordinarily on Sunday aboard the No. 5 Factory Harley-Davidson. The two-time champion has filled in admirably for the injured Brad Baker since taking over last month, posting the fastest qualifying time of the day and also finishing second in the Dash for Cash.
Fourth-place finisher Sammy Halbert wasn't in the photo finish at the end, but he was a legitimate threat to win throughout the race. The No. 69 Briggs Auto Kawasaki pilot made aggressive moves to get to the front of the pack during several points of the race and though he never registered a leading lap on the official lap chart, he did find himself out front multiple times. Halbert's shining moment on Sunday was his thrilling Dash for Cash victory, and he now sits third in the point standings behind Mees and Smith.
Rounding out the top-five finishers on Sunday was No. 2 Zanotti Racing rider Kenny Coolbeth Jr. The three-time champion had to use a Semi 1 win to qualify for the main event and he took full advantage of his opportunity, turning a 14th-starting position in the Main to a fifth-place finish.
Brandon Robinson, riding the No. 44 Latus Motors Racing Triumph, also led the race at one point before finishing an eventual sixth.
Davis Fisher continues to turn heads during his record setting 2015 GNC2 campaign, as the No. 67M Parkinson Brothers Racing Kawasaki pilot earned his third win and eighth podium finish this season on Sunday at the Springfield Mile.
Fisher's Springfield Mile win was his second at the historic venue this season and the 17-year-old has all but locked up the GNC2 championship with three rounds to go. His 181 points tower over next-best competitor Jamison Minor's 131 in the GNC2 point standings.
Earning his second runner-up finish of 2015 on Sunday was Tristan Avery. The No. 16S Rod Ayers Motorsports Kawasaki pilot has proven to be lethal on the twin this year, as he also recorded a Du Quoin Mile win back in July. Avery now sits seventh in the GNC2 point standings.
Rounding out the Springfield Mile podium on Sunday was No. 94B Suzuki pilot Ryan Wells. Wells now has three third-place finishes under his belt in 2015 and he now sits 10th in the standings. No. 24F Smith Racing Kawasaki rider J.R. Addison and No. 20J Bruce Lowe Excavating Suzuki pilot Ben Lowe, rounding out the top-five finishers, respectively.
Next Up
The stars of AMA Pro Flat Track visit Delmar, Delaware for Round 12 on Saturday, Sept. 19. For tickets and more information regarding the event, fans are encouraged to visit  
About is the official home for live streaming coverage of AMA Pro Flat Track events. The site also provides coverage of IMSA's development and single-make series, and NASCAR's touring and weekly series. Catch all the action at
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AMA Pro Flat Track is the world's premier dirt track motorcycle racing series and one of the longest-running championships in the history of motorsports. Sanctioned by AMA Pro Racing in Daytona Beach, Fla., the series is highly regarded as the most competitive form of dirt track motorcycle racing on the globe. For more information on AMA Pro Flat Track, please visit, follow us on Twitter, like us on Facebook or live stream the on-track action on
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