Round 1 of the 2012 AMA Pro Flat Track Harley-Davidson Insurance Grand National Championship presented by Motorcycle-Superstore.com season at the Daytona Short Track I is in the record books, and Johnny Lewis on the #10 Scott Powersports/Dubach Racing Developments/Saddlemen/Triple J Racing-sponsored Honda CRF450R was the man of the day spraying the champagne from the top step of the podium after leading all 25 laps of the 19-rider National main event. Matt Weidman on his #20 SNIP-sponsored Honda followed JL10 home in 2nd place, tying his series and career-best finish in an AMA Grand National Championship race (2nd at Lima 2011) and his first-ever podium in a Singles Series event, with last year's double winner and this year's fast qualifier and Dash winner Sammy Halbert coming home in 3rd after trying to run down the front-running duo in the closing laps on his #7 Fredericktown Yamaha YZ450F.
As in the shot above from round 14 of the 2011 AMA Pro Flat Track Harley-Davidson Insurance Grand National Championship presented by Motorcycle-Superstore.com season at the Peoria TT on August 21, Lewis powered his #10 Scott Powersports Honda to the front right off the start of the National main at Daytona and never looked back, breaking his cherry in the series at the start of his third full season of campaigning The Rolling Thunder Show. As was announced in his press release earlier in the week, JL10 dedicated his win to his late friend and tuner, Mark Adams, who was tragically killed in an accident earlier this year.
3-Time AMA Grand National Twins Champion and '07 Singles Series Champ Kenny Coolbeth, Jr. took his #2 Chaplin Kawasaki home in 4th, with 2011 Rookie of the Year Brad Baker taking the #12 Werner-Springsteen/Kenny Tolbert-tuned Kawasaki into the 5th spot after having to race and win his semi and starting off of the back row of the National. Other notables for the evening saw former Pro Singles runner-up Mikey Avila #33 finish 17th in his rookie Expert debut, with last year's sensation Briar Bauman riding the #10Z USC Kawasaki into an 8th place finish in his rookie Expert debut.
Defending 2-Time AMA Grand National Champion Jake Johnson had an off-night on the #1 Zanotti Racing Honda, finishing in 12th, and 2-Time Singles Series Champ Henry Wiles ending the night in the 18th spot after taking a provisional to make the main after a hard fall earlier in a semi race.
A big congratulations goes out to Johnny Lewis for his first-ever AMA Grand National Championship win, and for the rest of the riders who made the trip to Daytona, let alone made the main.!
And don't forget to tune into SpeedTV on Saturday, March 17 at 10:30 EDT for Speed's coverage of rounds 1 & 2 of the 2012 season, as they will have recently-retired 7-Time AMA Grand National Champion Chris Carr on-hand to help call the action at Daytona.
DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (March 16, 2012) - Johnny Lewis came into the opening rounds of the AMA Pro Harley-Davidson Insurance Grand National Championship presented by Motorcycle-Superstore.com looking to pull off a win to honor the late Mark Adams, his mechanic during his AMA Pro Supermoto career. The Scott Powersports / DRD / Saddlemen sponsored Lewis fulfilled his goal on the first night as he led all 25 laps of the main event on his Honda CRF450.
"I knew I had to get the hole shot and then ride smart. The track was really slick and rough," said Lewis. "I thought about it on the way down here, I really owed Mark a lot and I've dedicated Daytona to him this year."
Lewis dominated the race pulling clear of what turned into a great race over second. Snip / Fiorio Investments' Matt Weidman held second early, but gave it up to Chaplin Kawasaki's Kenny Coolbeth on lap two. Weidman quickly regained the spot, but his battle was not over. Sammy Halbert was on the march with his Fredericktown Yamaha getting around Coolbeth and closing drastically on Weidman.
Weidman was feeling the pressure and made a couple of mistakes, but held on for his best GNC finish on a singles bike. Halbert was a close third with Coolbeth a solid fourth.
2011 Rookie of the Year, Brad Baker debuted his Werner-Springsteen Kawasaki as he made a last lap pass on Bryan Smith (American Harley-Davidson / Oasis Homes) for fifth.
Montgomeryville Cycle Center Lucas Oils' Jared Mees bounced his way to seventh as 2012 Rookie of the Year candidate, Briar Bauman brought his Rod Lake / Browns Cycle Kawasaki home eighth with A&J Racing's Mikey Rush and Vans Yamaha's Jethro Halbert rounding out the top ten.
Earlier in the night the AMA Pro Motorcycle-Superstore.com Pro Singles main was also led wire to wire, but Fun Mart Power Brokers' Gerit Callies had to weather numerous restarts to accomplish it though. "All the restarts were killing me, but I was able to keep getting good starts and then I just held on," said Callies repeating a Daytona win from last year.
There was a great race over second as Bell Helmets / Technic's Hayden Gillim shadowed A&J Racing Team's Ales Wood for 15 of the 16 lap main. Pole sitter Gillim was able to wedge his way by on the last lap as Wood opened the door slightly and Gillim charged through.
Kirkland Racing / Hunter Mfg's Hunter Taylor worked his way up from 12th to a solid fourth place finish. Team Cunningham / Arai / Schiller's Tree Service's Jake Cunningham rounded out the top five.
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Check out this video with Johnny Lewis, winner of last night's round 1 of the 2012 AMA Pro Flat Track Harley-Davidson Insurance Grand National Championship presented by Motorcycle-Superstore.com season at the Daytona Short Track. Thanks to Miriam Deitcher and her Facebook Flat Track Live for putting this vid together with JL10:
You can read the story of the race here thanks to Paul Carruthers and Cycle News.com:
The Daytona News-Journal was on-hand at the Daytona Short Track I last night, and Godwin Kelly talks about the happenings of the race and Johnny Lewis getting his first AMA Grand National win:
Thanks to AMA Pro Flat Track for these shots from last night's event at the Daytona Short Track I, thanks to official AMA Pro Flat Track photographer Dave Hoenig:
Dave also maintains his own detailed website, FlatTrakFotos.com. You can go here to check out his results lists and album of pics from last night's round 1 at Daytona (site usually updated within 3-4 days of each event):
Chew Larcom and Mia Moore, The Fans in the Stands from FlatTrack.com, put up this great gallery of pics from last night's round 1 at the Daytona Short Track. Thanks guys!
Complete results of last night's round 1 of the 2012 AMA Pro Flat Track Harley-Davidson Insurance Grand National Championship presented by Motorcycle-Superstore.com season can be found here, thanks to AMA Pro Flat Track (standard version results, with drop-down arrow for complete event results):
And complete event results can also be found here, again thanks to AMA Pro Flat Track (PDF version results):