Thursday, August 4, 2011

AMA Flat Track Heads to Washington State for Round 13 at the Castle Rock TT

Sammy Halbert on his #7 Woody Kyle Racing/Fredericktown Yamaha/AGV/Kings Kustoms-sponsored Yamaha YZ450F leads this five-pack of riders during round 6 action at the Springfield TT in May 2011, during the Dash for Cash event.  Leader, and eventual Dash winner JR Schnabel on his #33 Werner-Springsteen Monster Energy Kawasaki is just ahead of 2nd-6th place as shown.

Following Slammin' Sammy dead center behind him is Jared Mees (you can't get much closer then this!) on the #9 Montgomeryville Cycle Center/Lucas Oil/Rogers Lake Racing/Saddlemen-sponsored Honda CRF450R, with eventual National event winner at Springfield, Jake Johnson on his #1 Zanotti Racing/Schaeffer's H-D/Motion Pro/Arai-backed Honda CRF450R.  Heat 2 winner Chad Cose on his #49 'no sponsor listed' Honda CRF450R takes the high wide line, while Matt Burton on the #39 RJ Performance/Hot Cams/39 Moto/MotionPro-sponsored Yamaha YZ450F brings up the rear.

Johnson and Mees finished 1-2 in the main event at Springfield, which was the last Singles Series event before the 2011 AMA Pro Flat Track Harley-Davidson Insurance Grand National Championship Series got into full swing in early June.  And with Sammy having to start on the back row at Springfield, and coming home in the 5th spot, the events of the day, needless to say, were quite exciting.

With the three riders locked in what surely will go down as one of the all-time epic battles in AMA Flat Track Series racing, the upcoming Castle Rock TT this weekend is sure to drum up some more excitement, something the series does at each and every stop on the calendar.  With hometown boys Halbert, Rookie of the Year candidate Brad Baker, and the returning to Castle Rock, Joe Kopp #3 all set to battle the best in the Washington State on Saturday night, there is no reason to believe that anything different will occur at the return of one of the iconic venues on the series calendar.

It's time to strap in and get on, as The Rolling Thunder Show is heading into the great Northwest Country to show-off the talents of the riders in the greatest sport on wheels.  Are you in, or are you out?

AMA Pro Flat Track Returns to the Rock for Round 13 TT

DAYTONA BEACH, FL (August 4, 2011) - When the AMA Pro Harley-Davidson Insurance Flat Track Championship visits Washington State's Castle Rock Race Park this Saturday, August 6, it'll mark yet another chapter in a history that dates back to 1965, when the facility hosted its first Grand National event. With help from the Mount Saint Helens Motorcycle Club -- which rebuilt the fairgrounds track after the 1980 volcanic eruption and has hosted nationals since -- the Castle Rock TT will also give several local riders a hometown, Pacific Northwest-style welcome.

Current overall series points-leader Sammy Halbert is from nearby Graham, and the Kings Kustoms/Larry Zumbrun Racing rider scored his first Grand National win at the 2007 Castle Rock TT. "I'm looking forward to going home," said Halbert. "I haven't been home since before Salinas. It'll be nice to go there and hang out with family, and get a little work done on the truck. I'll get regrouped and ready for the rest of the season."

Halbert's tenuous points lead stands at just four over defending Grand National Champion Jake Johnson (Zanotti Racing) and the fast-closing Jared Mees (Roger Lake Racing/Blue Springs Harley-Davidson). Both Johnson and Mees have likewise seen success at Castle Rock, Johnson scoring a win on the tight TT track in 2006 and Mees joining him on the dais in third.

Sammy Halbert #7 leads Kenny Coolbeth, Jr. #2 during a heated battle at the Springfield TT round in May 2011.  AMA Pro Flat Track photo by Dave Hoenig.

Washington native Joe Kopp will be returning to the Grand National wars for the first time since Daytona, and he brings a significant amount of experience with him. Kopp began his career by honing his skills on western Washington dirt, but with his best finish at Castle Rock thus far a second -- earned in 1994 -- he'll be looking for more on Saturday.

The rider who beat Kopp in 1994 was none other than American Motorcyclist Association/Classic Harley-Davidson's Chris Carr, currently just over halfway through his "Farewell Tour." Carr, also the winner of the 1993 edition, said, "The TT coming up is technical. It should be different, and it'll be fun. I'm looking forward to going to Castle Rock. I raced there in the '80s as well, and I heard [this year's track is] just like the old configuration and that they've added a jump between the right-hander and the sweeper, [so it's] kind of like it used to be."

Joe Kopp #3 is shown at the Springfield TT round in May of 2010.  Smokin Joe will return to the AMA Pro Flat Track Harley-Davidson Insurance Grand National Championship Series at the Castle Rock TT round this weekend, after not having competed in the series since the season-opening rounds at Daytona in March.  Kopp's hometown hero status should help him in getting used to being back in the saddle again.  AMA Pro Flat Track photo by Dave Hoenig.

Coming off his first victory of the year, Sacramento Mile-winner Bryan Smith ( Harley-Davidson) is looking for a repeat result at this weekend's TT. "I won Castle Rock Short Track [in 2007] and I have a really good Honda to ride at the TT this year from Boughner Racing," said Smith. "All I'm lacking is a TT win, and it would be awesome to get the Grand Slam [wins at a Half Mile, Short Track, Mile, and TT venue]. It would be a good two weeks if that happens."

This weekend will mark the Pro Singles class' first trip to "The Rock," with Mikey Martin (Weirbach Racing/General Engineering) leading the championship points-race over Weirbach Racing'sGerit Callies and SDI Insulation/M.E.H. Corp's Mikey Avila.Another rider returning home, however, is the leading candidate for the Saddlemen Rookie of the Year Award, Brad Baker.

Baker (Lloyd Brothers Motorsports/ has proved to be a force on all kinds of tracks this year, posting fast-qualifying times on both Half Mile and Mile tracks. A last-lap tip over at the Salinas TT robbed Baker of his first Grand National win, so expect the hometown hero to put his skills to the ultimate test at Castle Rock.

Chad Cose #49 and Shaun Russell #28 do battle at the Springfield TT round in May 2011.  AMA Pro Flat Track photo by Dave Hoenig.

With all of the championship battles so close, the ultra-tight racing of Castle Rock's TT has even more potential than usual to change the fates and fortunes of its riders, as even a small mistake can have big repercussions. The 2011 version of the Castle Rock TT will no doubt produce more of the surprises it's long been famous for.

For Castle Rock TT tickets and information, visit or call (888) 71-TICKETS. To be a part of the AMA Pro Harley-Davidson Insurance Flat Track Championship, visit 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,

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