Thursday, June 7, 2012

AMA Flat Track: Backmarker Mark Gardiner Talks About Willie McCoy's 2nd Springfield Mile Win

Just past the half-way flags and round 4 of the 2012 AMA Pro Flat Track Harley-Davidson Insurance Grand National Championship presented by season is getting ready to come to a boil as the leading pack in the 25-lap National main event prepares to work on their final strategy before the final run to the checkered flag at the Springfield Mile I on May 27.

Leading the majority of laps on the day (15), Bryan Smith on the #42 Howerton Motorsports/Eaken Racing Kawasaki/Midwest Performance Hardware/Guts Wear-sponsored 650R-based twin is out in front just feet from the stripe, and wowed those on-hand all day with the speed and handling of the Rick Howerton-built rocket, only failing in the final run to the checkers when he dropped inside and spun his tire off of turn 4, relegating him to a still-impressive 3rd-place finish.

2-Time and defending AMA Grand National Champion Jake Johnson is ready to pounce at any moment on the #1 Zanotti Racing/Schaeffer's H-D/Boughner Racing/Arai-backed H-D XR750 following on Smith's heels.  Johnson led only one lap (the first) in the National, but showed all day he was a force to be reckoned with in running with the fast five (or six as it would be with out-of-the-picture and eventual 4th-place finisher Jared Mees #9 in this shot), and finished the day in the 2nd-place spot for another Springfield weekend podium finish after finishing in the 2nd-place spot the evening before across the fairgrounds at the Springfield TT.

Kenny Coolbeth, Jr. had a great day on the #2 Screamin' Eagle/Harley-Davidson Motor Co/Fox/Arai Helmets-sponsored factory XR750, taking the fastest heat race win by several seconds earlier in the day, prompting many in the pit area to wonder aloud if the suspension changes noticed on the machine were the key to getting The King of Cool another win at the legendary Illinois State Fairgrounds mile oval.  Alas, it wasn't to be on this day as in the final lap of the race the pack bunched up and caused the 3-Time AMA Grand National Twins Champion to have to back-off and regroup.  As a result, he still came home with a very solid 6th-place finish, but a little over 1.7 seconds behind winner McCoy.

Former AMA Supermoto Champion Johnny Lewis again took the #10 Scott Powersports/Saddlemen Seats/Wallace Trucking/AXO-backed 650R-based Ninja twin to the front at Springfield after leading a handful of laps in last fall's event, his very first in front of a mile National.  Leading 8 laps on the afternoon, JL10 got and gave some serious schooling in the art of drafting on a mile track at over 130 MPH, finishing in the 5th-place spot just over .2 seconds behind Wild Willie, showing it's just a matter of time before the Pennsylvania resident bags his first Twins Series event after finally breaking his AMA Grand National cherry by winning the season-opening Daytona Short Track Singles Series event.

But the second-oldest man in the field (returning and former AMA Grand National competitor and 3-time winner Dan Ingram held the title on the day of being the oldest youngster in the field) again showed his mastery of the mile draft after what was another thrilling run through the field and to the final checkers.  Keller, Texas resident Willie McCoy, for the second time in-a-row at Springfield, put his #59 Harley-Davidson of Wausau/Independence H-D/Tucker Rocky/Arai-sponsored XR750 across the stripe first to show that even semi-retired guys have it in them.  In a thrilling dash to the flag, McCoy out-blasted Johnson to win by just .017 seconds and absolutely had the packed house on-hand cheering on the wily veteran.

With round 5 of the 2012 AMA Pro Flat Track Harley-Davidson Insurance Grand National Championship presented by season slated for the Lima Half-Mile on June 30th, we still have a little over three weeks to get ready as The Rolling Thunder Show kicks off the big summer swing in the Midwest.'s Backmarker, Mark Gardiner, released a very nice story today about Springfield Mile I winner Willie McCoy that you can check out below while you are revving your motor for the next Twins Series round in a little over 22 days.

Thanks again to Mark Gardiner, author of 'Riding Man,' one man's tale of riding the Isle of Man in 2002 and the man behind the Backmarker column that appears monthly online at  Mark again has come up with a great column about Willie McCoy's second Springfield Mile win-in-a-row at the Illinois State Fairgrounds on May 27:

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