Friday, October 14, 2011

AMA Flat Track: Grand National Championship-Clinching Pomona Season Finale Upon Us

As this final tech of these participants illustrates from the Springfield Mile II on September 4, the final tech and the final events that take place tomorrow in round 20 of the 2011 AMA Pro Flat Track Harley-Davidson Insurance Grand National Championship Series will determine which of three men standing will walk away with the 2011 AMA Grand National Championship.  After eight months of criss-crossing the continent in search of the Holy Grail of Flat Track Racing, Jake Johnson, Jared Mees and Sammy Halbert will take their title fight to the end at the Pomona Half-Mile event which will see one crowned and two left in the dust.  And another will walk away from active competition in a career that has spanned the last four decades of competition.

Although he has been a force to be reckoned with all year, 3-Time AMA Grand National Twins Champion Kenny Coolbeth, Jr. will be fighting for a win and not a championship tomorrow on his #2 Harley-Davidson Motor Corp/Screamin' Eagle/Spectro/Fox-sponsored factory H-D XR750.  After two wins this year (DuQuoin and Hagerstown) he will be looking to add to that total when the series rolls into Pomona.  The King of Cool sits a solid 4th in the overall point standings going in with 298 points, and will look to add to that total to cap off a great year for the former champ.

Jared Mees' year on the #9 Rogers Lake Racing/Blue Springs H-D/Screamin' Eagle/Lucas Oil-backed XR has been nothing short of phenomenal this season, leading the series with five wins on the year (Springfield Mile II, Hartford, Lake Odessa, Knoxville, Brainerd) and at one time taking the series points lead away from season-long leader Sammy Halbert.  After his crash and resulting 19th place finish at Calistoga, Mees dropped into 2nd in the standings, behind new leader Jake Johnson, just four points down (357-353) and a breath away from adding to his '09 AMA Grand National Twins Championship.

Defending AMA Grand National Champion Jake Johnson finally got that elusive Twins victory in the 2011 season when he walked away with round 19 at the Calistoga Half-Mile and as a result of Mees' finish, the 3-time winner on the year also took the points lead heading into the season finale, a spot he is familiar with.  With the #1 Zanotti Racing/Schaeffer's H-D/Boughner Racing/Motion Pro-sponsored and XR-mounted rider in a very similiar situation last year (albeit a little more breathing room in points), Jersey Jake will be the cool one in the saddle no matter what happens.  And he does STILL have that #1 on the front of his machine, let alone the back of his leathers.

One of the sport's most respected and worthy competitors will call it a day at the end of the day tomorrow at Pomona, as former 7-Time AMA Grand National Champion Chris Carr will close out his final chapter in his 2011 Farewell to Flat Track Tour.  The rider of the #4 American Motorcyclist Assoc/Classic H-D/DFW Honda/Arai-sponsored XR750 sits in the 5th spot of the championship (231 points) and has had a stellar year by all accounts, still hoping to grab that final win before hanging up his steel shoe for the final time.  There won't be a dry eye in the house if it happens tomorrow, and even if it doesn't there still could be some moisture in the air as The Prince of Peoria calls it a career. 

With his 3rd place in the championship standings (349 points) and his four wins on the season (Daytona 1 & 2, Lima, Castle Rock) Sammy Halbert will be looking to grab-back the points lead tomorrow afternoon in order to gain the true and only championship that exists in AMA Grand National Championship Series racing.  The rider of the #7 Kings Kustoms/White's H-D/LZ Racing/KK Supply-sponsored XR750 has been tough all year, no matter what type of tracks the series has frequented.  But other than Mees, he does have the best lock on half-mile tracks this year to be able to reel in the leaders to take home that elusive AMA Grand National Championship.  After leading the series points standings for the first 16 events this year, Slammin' Sammy could be the one to grab it all and make it 17 of 20 when the dust settles in Pomona.

Tomorrow's title fight at Pomona promises to be exactly what the entire season has been in the 2011 AMA Pro Flat Track Harley-Davidson Insurance Grand National Championship Series presented by, a great year of battles and banging bars that has kept everyone on their feet since the first green flag some seven months ago in Daytona.  When the final checkered flag flies tomorrow night inside the Pomona Fairplex, everyone will get the chance to exhale as the 2011 AMA Grand National Champion is crowned and the train comes into the station for the final stop in The Rolling Thunder Show for the 2011 season.

Thanks as always goes out to Cycle's Larry Lawrence for his great coverage this year from the 2011 AMA Pro Flat Track Harley-Davidson Insurance Grand National Championship Series presented by 

In this week's CN Digital Edition, LL sets the record straight on what is what and who is who heading into tomorrow afternoon's season finale at the Pomona Fairplex:

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