Monday, June 27, 2011

AMA Flat Track: Sammy Halbert Slays 'Em in Round 9 at Lima Half-Mile

Sammy Halbert #7 gets the check for the win at the Springfield Mile Dash for Cash event, as 3rd place finisher Brad Baker #12 and runner-up Bryan Smith #42 reflect on the race at the end of the day in round 6 of the 2011 AMA Pro Flat Track Harley-Davidson Insurance Grand National Championship Series over the Memorial Day Weekend on May 29.  The same three men were in the Dash event again last Saturday at the Allen County Fairgrounds in Lima, OH., but with different end results.  Smith grabbed the win on his #42 Moroney's H-D/ Racing-sponsored XR while Halbert and Baker followed him home.

For round 9 last Saturday's main event on the pea gravel/limestone cushion track, Sammy Halbert on the #7 Kings Kustoms/LZ Racing/KK Supply/Nelson Racing-sponsored H-D XR-750 followed early leader Smith, and then went on to pass him and pull off his 3rd win of the season over eventual 2nd place finisher and cushion track specialist, Matt Weidman #20 (more on Matt below.)  Smith secured 3rd in the main while holding off Brad Baker on the #12 Lloyd Brothers Motorsports/ Insurance/ENI USA-backed Ducati.  Jared Mees, on the #9 Rogers Lake Racing XR rounded out the top 5.  Defending '10 AMA Grand National Champion Jake Johnson had an 'off-night' by his normal standards, but still brought his #1 Zanotti Racing Harley-Davidson XR-750 home in the 8th spot. 

It was definitely Slammin Sammy's night at Lima, and except for his 2nd place in the Dash event, he had a perfect night in qualifying fastest, winning the fastest heat to garner the pole for the main, and going on to win over Weidman by 1.183 seconds and take his 3rd overall win of the year (and first since the Daytona season-openers in March.)  Sammy stretched his lead in the overall standings on runner-up Johnson by 16 more points after his Lima win (186-161), with Jared Mees (the winner of both previous Twins Series events on the year at Springfield & Hartford) now a solid 3rd in the standings with 155 points.

Former 3-Time Grand National Twins Champ (and '07 Singles Series Champ) Kenny Coolbeth, Jr., brought his #2 Screamin Eagle Factory Harley-Davidson XR-750 home in the 6th spot at Lima to help secure 4th in the overall standings after 9 rounds with 136 points.  Rookie of the Year candidate Baker, showing the guts and glory that took him to the '09 Pro Singles Championship and runner-up in last year's Pro Singles standings, still sits a solid 5th in the overall picture with 119 points.  Baker was making the cushion work for him and the big Ducati according to those on the scene at Lima, and his lap times on the AMA Live Timing & Scoring were right there with the leaders.  It's just a matter of time before he puts the LBM Ducati on the top of the box!

The series has a break in the schedule over the Independence Day Holiday-although the Steve Nace All-Star/AMA Racing Series will be in Frederick, MD. on July 4-and returns to action at the Hagerstown, MD. Half-Mile for round 10 on Saturday, July 9.

Bryan Smith gets his #42 Moroney's H-D/ Racing-sponsored H-D XR-750 fired up and ready to go during the race weekend at the Springfield Mile on May 29, as Matt Weidman ponders the moment along with his Dad, Guy, before the he rolls out on his #20 White's Harley-Davidson/SNIP/Shoei/Silkolene-sponsored XR for round 6 of the 2011 AMA Pro Flat Track Harley-Davidson Insurance Grand National Championship Series.

Smith, who just after the Daytona season openers split from his last-year's team, the Werner-Springsteen Monster Energy Kawasaki, is now calling the shots for his Moroney's-backed team after spending the 2010 season riding the Big Green Machine.  Sporting new colors and new versions of his own equipment at Springfield, Smith broke in the main after winning his heat, and then came back to 2nd in the Dash at the end of the rain-delayed program on May 29. 

Things have seemed to come together for this hard charger from Michigan as he now has two, 3rd-place finishes in the last two rounds, as well as his Dash win from last Saturday at Lima.  He's moved himself into the 11th spot in the overall standings with 60 points.  It may be too late to go for the championship at this point, but don't be surprised to see Flyin Bryan on top of the box before too long.

With everyone on the box at Lima having moved up one spot from their previous year's event finishes ('10 Lima winner Henry Wiles #17 is still out and looking to return by Peoria in August), Matt Weidman is one rider who probably wishes he had had a few more laps to race at Lima last Saturday.  Turning some of the fastest laps of the night towards the end of the main, Matt didn't let his 2nd row start deter him in getting to the front.  This fine hard-charger has Lima figured out, and with his cushion track background, maybe 2012 will move him up another spot. 

With his 11th at Springfield and 7th at Hartford to go along with Saturday's runner-up at Lima, Matt's season is starting to fall into place for him and he sits in the 8th position in the overall standings with 79 points.  Great job Matt, and we hope you see that top spot on the box before another 12 months passes!

Halbert Owns the Lima Limestone
at AMA Pro Harley-Davidson Insurance Flat Track Round 9

LIMA, OH (June 27, 2011) - Near-perfect weather greeted the large crowd gathered at the Allen County Fairgrounds in Lima, Ohio, on Saturday for Round 9 of the AMA Pro Harley-Davidson Insurance Flat Track Championship. The return of the limestone to the fairgrounds oval translated to intense racing all night long, as one already dominant rider became more so.

Despite being forced to come from behind in every race he lined up for at Lima, the night belonged to Sammy Halbert. The King's Kustoms/LZ Racing rider kicked off the event by setting the fast time in qualifying, and after overcoming a terrible start to win the first heat, he posted the quickest time yet again.

The 25-lap National was red-flagged on Lap 3 after Digger 57/Dick Ford-backed Luke Gough fell in Turn 2 (Gough was able to join the staggered restart on his backup bike), and while defending Grand National Champion Jake Johnson (Zanotti Racing) repeated his holeshot on the restart, Harley-Davidson's Bryan Smith blasted around on the outside to retake the point on Lap 5. Smith extended his lead and looked to be on his way to repeating his 2009 victory at the track, but Halbert was on the move.

Sammy Halbert celebrates his 3rd win of the season on the podium at the Lima Half-Mile on Saturday, June 25.  AMA Pro Flat Track photo by Dave Hoenig.

"I was finally able to catch Bryan, and he really gave me a good battle," said Halbert. "I really needed to get out front because I pulled all my tear-offs off at once, and it was hard to ride behind anyone. I saw someone coming, but I was able to hold on."

The rider Halbert saw was another come-from-behinder, White's Harley-Davidson's Matt Weidman, who was in catch-up mode all night after problems in his heat. "We had problems all night," said Weidman. "When we came out for the heat [for which Weidman held pole], we found out I had a broken swingarm and I had to go to my backup bike. I missed a shift on the start and came off dead last."
Weidman was able to claw his way up through the field and claim the last direct transfer spot, which still left him with a second-row starting position. Once again, Weidman worked his way to the front, taking second from Smith on Lap 17 and closing on Halbert for the lead. Despite the valiant effort, Weidman's charge stalled out with about five laps to go and the podium was set, Weidman and Smith following Halbert across the line.

Sammy Halbert on his #7 Kings Kustoms H-D XR-750 is shown in action on his way home to the top spot on the box at the Lima, OH. half-mile event from Saturday, June 25.  AMA Pro Flat Track photo by Dave Hoenig.

Smith was perhaps lucky to claim the final step on the roster, as his drift back to more than six seconds behind Halbert nearly delivered him into the clutches of Rookie of the Year candidate Brad Baker (Lloyd Brothers Motorsports/Team The only blemish on Halbert's night, meanwhile, came in the Dash for Cash. It was Smith who topped the four-lap race, though Halbert earned second over Baker and Gough.

Zakk Palmer on the #81C Western Hills Honda battles with Chaz Springsteen #29J Parkinson Bros Honda en route to their 1-2 finishes on the evening in the AMA Pro Flat Track Pro Singles main event at Lima.  AMA Pro Flat Track photo by Dave Hoenig.

Earlier in the evening, Western Hills Honda's Zakk Palmer captured his second win of 2011 in the Pro Singles Championship. Palmer and Parkinson Brothers/Arai-backed Chas Springsteen traded the front spot several times before Palmer was able to pull out a nearly one-second lead by the finish of the 16-lap race. Bob Weirbach Racing's Booby DeScenna, who was making his first start of the year, came home third.

Halbert, who'd maintained the overall AMA Pro Harley-Davidson Insurance Grand National Championship points lead throughout 2011, did further damage to the hopes of other championship contenders via his third victory of the year. The win at Lima pushed Halbert's lead to 25 points over Jake Johnson, and a whopping 31 over Rogers Lake Racing's Jared Mees. Mees was able to finish fifth, while Johnson faded to an eighth-place finish.

Despite an eighth-place finish in Lima's Pro Singles race, SDI Insulation's Mikey Avila maintained his overall Pro Singles points lead. Avila's main challengers, Vortex Sprockets' Gerit Callies and Weirbach Racing's Mikey Martin, finished sixth and tenth, respectively.

The AMA Pro Harley-Davidson Insurance Flat Track Championship next heads for Round 10 at Maryland's Hagerstown Half-Mile. For tickets to the July 9 event, visit or call (301) 582-0640.

To be a part of the AMA Pro Harley-Davidson Insurance Flat Track Championship, visit us at and join us on and

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,

Stories of the race at Lima

Here's Larry Lawrence's coverage of the action at Lima over at Cycle

(Added Tues. 6/28/11 1555 EDT)

And here is the link to the full story of the race at Lima, again thanks to Larry Lawrence and Cycle

Bryan Harley was on the scene at Lima and posted this story of the race for


Here's the link to the results for round 9 of the 2011 AMA Pro Flat Track Harley-Davidson Insurance Grand National Championship Series from Lima, OH. (standard versions):

And thanks again to AMA Pro Flat Track for this link to the complete event results from Saturday's Lima Half-Mile event (PDF versions):


Jim Grant has been following AMA Flat Track racing for years, and if you haven't checked out his stuff, now is the time to do so (he also does a SUPER job of shooting the races!)  Here's the link to Jim's JGPhotowerx site with his event shots from Lima:

Jim's official website is here, and you can check out his catalog from other AMA Pro Flat Track Series events:

You can take a look at the event photos here, thanks to AMA Pro Flat Track and official photographer, Dave Hoenig:

And here's Dave's official site, Flat Trak, which has the complete event results as well as his extensive catalog of shots from Lima (Dave usually posts his photos several days after each event):

While on the scene at Lima for Cycle, Larry Lawrence shot this great pic of 2nd place man Matt Weidman #20.  LL has this one on his great site, The Rider

Mia Moore and Kevin 'Chew' Larcom shot some awesome stuff at Lima for their part in being the best Fans in the Stands at  Check 'em out:

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