Thursday, April 7, 2011

AMA Pro Flat Track Previews DuQuoin Short Track At The Southern Illinois Center

2010 AMA Pro Flat Track Grand National Champion Jake Johnson can be seen sitting in his pit discussing race strategy with Zanotti Racing team member (and former AMA GN competitor #67) Mike Hacker in between practice and qualifying for the Gas City/I-69 Speedway round of the AMA Pro Flat Track K&N Filters presented by Motorcycle Grand National Championship Series in June of 2010.  In what would be his worst finish on the season, Jersey Jake went on to run fourth in his heat and finish 13th in the main event on the night. 
But the season was young, and just shy of four months later Johnson and the Zanotti Racing team were celebrating a championship in Arizona after winning the season-ending Yavapai Downs Mile.  Not to forget, Johnson won round two at the season opener in Daytona in March of 2010 (after finishing 3rd in round one to winner Slammin' Sammy Halbert) and also garnered a 6th place at the Springfield TT, a 4th place finish at the Peoria TT, and a 2nd place finish at the Springfield Short Track in the remaining Singles Series events of the year. 
His Zanotti Racing/Leo Vince/Tucker Rocky/S Designs-sponsored Honda CRF450 is maintained by team owner Dave Zanotti and crew, and is again his weapon of choice for the 2011 season.  With the new #1 affixed to his machine at Daytona last month, Jake had a solid start to the season with 3rd/4th place finishes and sits fourth in the 2011 standings with two rounds down of the 21 scheduled for the season.
Do NOT overlook this man for the 2011 season, whether it be in the Singles Series or the Twins Series (where he also carded two wins in 2010 at the Memorial Day Springfield Mile and the season-ending Arizona Mile.)  Johnson now has the overall Grand Naitonal Championship to add to his two Singles Series Championships that he won with the former Suzuki flat track team in '06 and '08.  Johnson was also the winner in two previous indoor events, DuQuoin in September of '04 and Tunica, MS. in '02, and no matter what the track layout or surface, the '02 AMA Flat Track Rookie of the Year cannot be overlooked.  And with that big #1 on his back now (and on his number plates!) people will be gunning for The Champ. 
AMA Pro Racing News Release

DuQuoin Preview: Round 3 of the AMA Pro Harley-Davidson Insurance Flat Track Championship

DAYTONA BEACH, FL (April 7, 2011) - After a short break to recover from the "Daytona Double" at Daytona International Speedway, the AMA Pro Harley-Davidson Insurance Flat Track Championship will be back in action Saturday, April 16, at the Southern Illinois Center in DuQuoin, Illinois. The AMA Pro Pro Singles class, packed with the rising stars of AMA Pro Flat Track racing, will join the Expert Singles at the third round of the 21-race series. This highly anticipated race will mark the first time the series' Grand National heroes have raced indoors at the Southern Illinois Center since 2004, which itself was the only non-mile exception in the series' twenty-five DuQuoin Grand Nationals history.

Current defending Grand National Champion Jake Johnson came away with the win that night on a Honda, while JR Schnabel (then Yamaha-mounted) and Kenny Coolbeth (aboard a KTM at the time) filled out the podium. In 2011, Johnson will be returning on his Zanotti Racing Honda with the big #1 on his back, while both Schnabel (Monster Energy Kawasaki Werner Springsteen Racing) and Coolbeth (Chaplin Kawasaki) will be Kawasaki-mounted.

Current points leader Sammy Halbert (Woody Kyle Racing/Fredericktown Yamaha) will be trying to make it three in a row after sweeping the Daytona opening rounds. Nicknamed "Slammin' Sammy" for his aggressive riding style, Halbert's technique is a perfect fit for the tight confines of indoor motorcycle racing.

There's a good chance one or more of the young lions emerging in the series will make their mark at DuQuoin: both JD Beach (USC Motorsports) and Jeffery Carver (Woody Kyle Racing) have likely turned more laps on the small track than anyone else, as they've ridden almost all the Pro-Am races that have been held there during the last few winters. Fellow Rookie Brad Baker (ENI USA) has similarly honed his talent at indoor races in his home state of Washington, and he came out swinging in Daytona with a very respectable third and fourth. Baker is leading the Saddlemen Rookie of the Year chase while sitting third in the Grand National Points standings.

Johnny Lewis (Scott Powersports), meanwhile, is a veteran of East Coast indoor races, but his pair of second-place Daytona finishes have left him hungrier than ever for his first GNC victory. He'll have plenty of competition, though; the biggest news of the "Spring Break" has been Bryan Smith's departure from the potent Monster Energy Werner Springsteen Team. Smith will campaign his own equipment for the rest of 2011, riding a Kawasaki with help from Moroney's Harley-Davidson and RHC.

As the AMA Pro Harley-Davidson Insurance Flat Track Championship looks ahead to Round 3 at the Southern Illinois Center, the only certainty is tight, bar-banging action that's sure to produce surprises, and perhaps some hard feelings, as indoor racing is guaranteed to deliver an intensity like no other in the series. The ultra-fast dirt oval could produce single-second lap times, and the 30-lap National will no doubt become the roller derby of motorcycle racing.

For tickets and event info, click here. For more information about Harley-Davidson insurance, visit For more information about the AMA Pro Harley-Davidson Insurance Flat Track Championship, visit

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

For additional information contact:

AMA Pro Racing Communications, (386) 492-1014,

Thanks to AMA Pro Flat Track for this link to the event information for the DuQuoin Short Track on April 16:

Here's where you can find info on the beautiful Southern Illinois Center located on the DuQuoin State Fairgrounds in (of course!) Southern Illinois:

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