Saturday, September 10, 2011

AMA Pro Flat Track Round 17 Set to Go at Knoxville Raceway---Keep Up With the Action Here

Riders get ready to roll out for the first practice session of the day at the Springfield Mile II round of the 2011 AMA Pro Flat Track Harley-Davidson Insurance Grand National Championship Series on Sunday, September 4.  In what would end up being a windy and wild race at the Illinois State Fairgrounds, veteran and now-part time racer Willie McCoy took his #59 H-D of Wausau XR750 to the win over soon-to-be-retired 7-Time AMA Grand National Champion Chris Carr on his #4 XR750 by less then a blink of an eye.

Former AMA Grand National competitor and former National #23 Kevin Atherton, now part of the Lloyd Brothers Motorsports team, can be seen talking with Jared Mees just before the start of practice.  Mees rode his #9 Rogers Lake Racing/Screamin' Eagle/National Cycle/Lucas Oil-backed XR into the 5th spot at Springfield, while also taking home the win in the Dash event, to bring his overall point total to within 5 points of overall leader Sammy Halbert (298-293.)  Mees will be tough today at the half-mile in Knoxville, and could be the one to spoil the party when things are all done late tonight.

Bryan Smith was running in the lead group during the main event on his #42 Moroney's H-D/ Racing-backed XR but ended up finishing 17th after crashing out (and injuring his finger) with 5 laps to go, and was unable to make the restart.  Look for Bryan to run tough today as he looks to close out his season on a high note with just four events to go.

Although Sammy Halbert 'only' finished 7th at Springfield, to match his #7 Kings Kustoms/White's H-D/LZ Racing/KK Supply-sponsored machine's number, he was a mere .428 seconds back.  Slammin Sammy should be right in the mix today and the remaining three half-mile events left on the 2011 calendar, after winning at Lima back in late June.  The overall point leader since the very first race of the season is chasing his first overall AMA Grand National Championship in the 2011 season and has not let go of his grasp in the standings for 16 events now, after winning his first 'ceremonial' Singles Series Championship at the Springfield Short Track last Saturday night.

Brad Baker (partially hidden behind Sammy) had an up-and-down day at the infamous State Capital mile oval.  Once the team got the front end wobble worked out on the #12 Lloyd Brothers Motorsports/ Hayden/ENI USA-sponsored Ducati HyperMotard-based machine, the bike ran slower, causing The Bullet to qualify .7 seconds back of fast time man Kenny Coolbeth.  Baker came through, and won his semi, and then fought his way into the 8th spot in the main after scratching his eye with dirt during the ongoing melee of speed before the red flag interuption.  Baker looked strong as ever and it's just a matter of time before he bags one of these things.  He still lies 5th in the overall points picture with 198 points, and is a virtual shoe-in for Rookie of the Year for the 2011 season.

Johnny Lewis' #10 Scott Powersports/Dubach Racing Developments/Saddlemen/Triple J Racing-backed Kawasaki 650R-based machine (partially hidden by one of the Scott Powersports' team members) was running like a bullet train at Springfield, and led several laps in route to a 6th place finish and just less then .3 seconds behind winner McCoy.  Look for Johnny to run strong on the half-miles remaining on the schedule, to keep ahold of his solid 7th spot in the standings (152 points.)

The King of Cool sits with what one major flat track fan calls 'eyes of a gunfighter' ready to roll out on this #2 Harley-Davidson Motor Co/Screamin Eagle/Spectro Oils/Fox-backed factory H-D XR750, which would lead him to fast time on the day, the fastest heat race of the day (to gain pole for the main), a 3rd place in the Dash event, and an eventual 4th place in the main.  Still hunting his first Twins Series main event win for 2011, Coolbeth could very well be the final spoiler for the championship contenders to help solidify his 4th place in the overall point standings (244 points.)

The Zanotti Racing/Schaeffer's H-D/Boughner Racing/Arai-sponsored and XR750 mounted #1 Jake Johnson lies a scant 10 points behind leader Halbert, and five behind Mees in his quest to repeat as the AMA Grand National Champion after winning the title in 2010 (and add to his two Singles Series Championships from '06 and '08.)  Champions do what champions do, and Jersey Jake came home 3rd at Springfield to show his muscle on the big tracks.  Don't expect anything less of The Champ at the remaining four half-miles, and today could tell the tale as to how #1 is going to deal with the final races on the schedule.  And come on, you know by now, never count out Jake, nor the #1 plate holder!

Chris Carr has four events remaining on his 2011 Farewell to Flat Track Tour as he takes his #4 American Motorcyclist Assoc/Classic H-D/DFW Honda/Arai-sponsored and Kenny Tolbert-tuned XR to the final races of his over quarter century old professional racing career.  Going out as the true champion, spokesperson and gentleman that he is, The Champ came home 2nd to winner McCoy last Sunday by just .012 seconds, and was one of the first to congratulate McCoy and give him a big bear hug.  In spite of not having won a main National event this season, the former 7-Time Champ still sits 6th in the overall point standings just 1 point behind Rookie of the Year-to be Baker, with 197 points.  It truly will be sad in the 2012 season when Carr isn't around as a rider to line-up on the track, and will leave a massive hole on the grid, and in the paddock after he hangs up his steel shoe.

So there you have it, with less then 20 minutes before the riders hit the track at Knoxville Raceway for the first practice of round 17 in the 2011 AMA Pro Flat Track Harley-Davidson Insurance Grand National Championship Series, it's time to buckle up and grab the bars as The Rolling Thunder Show hits the track again to give the Iowa fans a taste of the great action in the best racing show in the world on wheels. 

Practice rolls off at the Sprint Car Capital of the World at 4:30 EDT/3:30 CDT, so you better be ready!

Follow all the action here, at or away from the track at the Knoxville Raceway Half-Mile event, round 17 of the 2011 AMA Pro Flat Track Harley-Davidson Insurance Grand National Championship Series.

AMA Pro Flat Track Live Timing & Scoring:

Miriam Deitcher's Facebook Flat Track Live will have regular updates, videos and photos from the goings-on at the Knoxville Half-Mile here:

AMA Pro Flat Track event info for Knoxville (standard versions):

AMA Pro Flat Track complete event info for Knoxville (PDF versions):

Info about the Knoxville Raceway from their official site:

Weather info from the county seat of Marion County, Iowa thanks to The Weather Underground:

While you are keeping up with today's action at Knoxville, you can also read about last Sunday's round 16 at the Springfield Mile II via Larry Lawrence's story of the race at Cycle's digital edition here:

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