Round 5 of the 2012 AMA Pro Flat Track Harley-Davidson Insurance Grand National Championship presented by Motorcycle-Superstore.com season at the Allen County Fairgrounds saw some serious up-and-down results for 3-Time AMA Grand National Twins Champion Kenny Coolbeth, Jr.
After qualifying in the 17th-place spot out of the 44-rider field, The King of Cool missed qualifying for the main out of his heat race by just over 2.7 seconds, and was forced to race the semi in order to try and make the National main later in the evening. Coolbeth put a spanking on 'em during semi race #2, and won by just shy of 2.8 seconds to punch his ticket to the main. As you can see from the shot above while being interviewed by AMA Pro Flat Track announcer Barry Boone that the rider of the #2 Screamin' Eagle/Harley-Davidson Motor Co/Fox/Arai Helmets-sponsored factory XR750 rode so hard to beat runner-up Kayl Kolkman and 3rd-place finisher JD Beach that he almost shook the right-side number plate off of his sturdy mount.
But highs turned to lows quickly for the long-time and popular contender of The Rolling Thunder Show as the 25-lap main roared off, and when entering turn 3 on the first lap, Coolbeth caught an inside track marker and suffered a broken leg in what was an extremely freak incident. As a result, for the first time in recent memory, the last remaining factory-backed rider in the greatest racing show on wheels in the world was forced to the sidelines for the middle part of the season's schedule, missing four rounds while recuperating.
When Kenny did return to the track at round 10's running of the 2012 Lucas Oil Indy Mile, he came back with a pretty big bang in carding a 5th-place effort on his return, and leaving little doubt that he had lost his edge or touch in the almost nine weeks he was away from the track.
Last Saturday at the Knoxville Half-Mile in the mid-section of the Hawkeye State in Iowa, Coolbeth made another fabulous return in the shape of returning to the podium as he took charge on lap 5 and proceeded to runaway with the win in just his second race back after his summer hiatus, proving once again you can't keep a good man down and if/when you do, he's going to come back fast and leave you in the dust. And with his great effort along with the H-D factory team really coming together of late, look for more and soon from the Connecticut resident.
A big congrats to Kenny for a super return to the track and to his winning form, it couldn't have happened to a nicer guy and we definitely look to see him up at the front this weekend during the rescheduled doubleheader weekend at the Illinois State Fairgrounds in Springfield!
You can check out all of the offerings below from AMA Pro Flat Track's official press release, along with some extra goodies to help relive the awesome race at Knoxville last weekend.
DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (September 12, 2012) - "When I come to a race, I come to win," said Kenny Coolbeth and that mantra worked to perfection when the AMA Pro Harley-Davidson Insurance Grand National Championship presented by Motorcycle-Superstore.com and Lucas Oil came to the Sprint Car Capitol of the World, the spacious Knoxville Raceway and it's bullet fast half-mile oval. It took Screamin' Eagle Harley-Davidson Motor Company-backed Coolbeth five laps to gain the lead in the 25-lap National, and once he did, he never looked back. "My bike was coming off the corners and going down the straightaway unbelievably fast," said Coolbeth. "That's where the passing was. It was kind of a one-line in the corners."
Defending Grand National Champion, Jake Johnson (Zanotti Racing / Schaeffer's Harley-Davidson), got the hole shot with current points leader, Jared Mees (Rogers Racing / Blue Springs Harley-Davidson), close behind. The two appeared to be poised to repeat last year's epic battle that nearly resulted in a dead heat, when Mees was declared the winner.
Johnson made a critical error going into turn three on the first lap. "I think I just got too excited too quick. I don't think it was ready to push it that hard yet," said Johnson. "Three times in a row I just ran it into three. There is a little dip in the track and if you ran it in too hot and too sideways it would kind of unload you. It just ran me off the groove. I was just dumb enough to do it two or three times in a row. Before I knew it I was like back in sixth or seventh. Luckily we had the red flag and reverted back a lap and was able to start fourth."
After taking the win in only his second race back from injury earlier in the season at Lima, Kenny Coolbeth, Jr. gave suspension guru, RIDE Academy founder and owner and rider/coach Mike Hacker a ride on his victory lap at Knoxville on September 8. AMA Pro Flat Track photo by Dave Hoenig.
Matt Weidman (Scott's Powersports) had fallen in turn three, bringing on the red lights. Weidman was able to regroup and make the restart. Mees picked up where he left off, but now it was Coolbeth applying the pressure. "I was in third on the first start, Jake and Jared were ahead of me," said Coolbeth. "I got around Jake and then we had a red flag. I got a good start on the second start and I just followed Jared into turn one." Coolbeth was quick to make his move and dove under Mees exiting turn two taking the lead. Coolbeth steadily pulled away with Mees being harassed by Brad Baker (Dodge Brothers Racing) and the reprieved Johnson. Consistent laps allowed Coolbeth to pull away as Mees was now encountering problems.
"Just past halfway she just basically let go right after turn two," said Mees of his XR750 Harley-Davidson. "It made a bunch of noise. A couple laps before that Jake got by me pretty easy going down the front straightaway and I thought, 'Maybe this thing is tying up.' I just wondered why I couldn't go down the straightaway any more." Baker's race soon began to unravel too. "This could of possibly been my first expert win and definitely another podium finish," said Baker. "It was thrown out the window when my bike started cutting in and out on about lap 6. It eventually got so bad that I was forced to pull off." Mees was unable to complete lap 16 and the points leader was relegated to spectator. "It is what it is," said Mees. "It shook up the points quite a bit more than I would of liked for sure. We're still in the lead, it will be alright." Two laps later Baker was also sidelined.
"On the restart, I came off fourth and just kind of kept my cool," said Johnson. "I just cruised for a couple laps and waited for the tire to come. It seemed like everything started clicking. I was able to get by Brad, it looked like he was having some problems. It was tough to pass. The lap before I got by him, I saw him go down the back straightaway and it seemed like something was going on with his bike. He threw his hand up and then put it back down again and took off again. I knew something was up. I was able to get by him and I started running Jared down."
"I got up to him (Mees) and we kind of ran even for a few laps," said Johnson. "I couldn't really get by him. I noticed that each lap his bike was getting a little bit slower. I was able to get a little further up on him on each straightaway. I was finally able to get by and by that time, Kenny was gone. I just gave it everything I had."
Coolbeth has been working his way back into action after breaking his leg in June. "It feels good. It's only my second race back and I'm right up there with those guys," said Coolbeth. "The team is finally meshing. We've done some different things with the team and it's paying off." As the laps wound down, Coolbeth's torrid pace slowed a bit. "I definitely backed off. I was riding my brakes quite a bit and they were fading," said Coolbeth. "Then the throttle started kind of sticking. I was flustered there for a while and I kind of backed it off. I looked back once and thought I had a pretty good lead. With five laps to go I looked again and thought, man, he's catching me," added Coolbeth. "I thought I better step it up. I got into the lapped riders. I was hoping that they didn't hold me up. They did a good job getting out of the way. It was great."
"I was able to close the gap quite a bit. I just fell short on laps I guess," said Johnson. "It was a good night in points for us. It's unfortunate for Jared to not be able to finish. That's how this year has been going."
The other title contender, Sammy Halbert (South East Harley-Davidson), inherited third, but was well behind the two leaders. "On the restart I almost passed Jake and Brad. I passed Jake and stuck it in there under Brad," said Halbert. "He raced me into the turn and kind of pinched me off a little bit. There was a close moment there and I dropped back to fifth. It looked like it was going to be another fifth for me. There was a little attrition so it brought us up to third. I'm not thrilled with the race as far as how I did. I just couldn't quite get it dialed in. It was a pretty consistent night for me." Eaken Racing's Rob Pearson is quickly adapting to his new Kawasaki ride as he came from row three to finish fourth. "The restart helped me out a bunch. I got to the bottom and got a couple guys," said Pearson. "The Kawi started hooking up. It's got legs down the straightaway, it made it a lot easier to pass people. I've got to go home and figure out these starts. I need to put myself in a good position in qualifying. If I can put it all together, I feel better than I've ever felt." Moroney's Harley-Davidson / Fasthog.com's Bryan Smith finished fifth some 13 seconds behind the winner. R&J Racing's Doug Lawrence was just behind in sixth. "For as bad as I felt, I guess fifth is something I'll take," said Smith. "I would have much rather been racing for a podium. It is what it is I guess."
The top ten was filled out with Brandon Robinson (Werner-Springsteen Racing), Nichole Cheza (Global Products), Jeffrey Carver (Kiesow Racing) and Shawn Baer (Baer Racing Products).
With this tight of a points race, the Dash's points become all that more important. The last few years, Sammy Halbert has had a lot of success in the dash races, but a third place heat finish left him out of the race. Mees, Johnson and Coolbeth gave a quick four lap preview of the National and Mees eked out the win by .051 second over both Johnson and Coolbeth. Second and the all important four points were awarded to Johnson.
Despite his mechanical problems, Jared Mees has retained his points lead, now whittled down to eleven over both Sammy Halbert and Jake Johnson, 207 to 196. At this point Halbert holds the tie breaker with three wins to Mees' one and Johnson has yet to gain a 2012 win. Bryan Smith sits in fourth 60 points behind Halbert and Johnson, which pretty much makes it a three rider race for the Grand National Championship.
GNC Race Results GNC Combined Points Standings
Sunoco "Go the Distance" Award Update
Jeffrey Carver Jr. - 316.58
Jared Mees - 309.3
Jake Johnson - 301.14
Bryan Smith - 295.39
Saddlemen "Rookie of the Year" Update
Briar Bauman - 74
Mikey Martin - 20
Mikey Avila - 20
Springfield Short Track and Mile II
September 15-16, 2012
Shayna Texter Goes Back-to-Back in AMA Pro Motorcycle-Superstore.com Pro Singles Class at Knoxville Raceway
AMA Pro Motorcycle-Superstore.com Pro Singles
The Knoxville Raceway is fast becoming the personal playground for Shayna Texter and her Dallas Fort Worth Honda / RLT Racing-backed Honda. Whether it is her love of a fast groove track or the fact her Grandfather is enshrined in the Sprint Car Hall of Fame outside turn two, the big oval has been very good to her. Texter became the first female to win an event at an AMA Pro Racing Grand National last year and was anxious to defend her title, posting fast qualifying time and winning her heat race. Much like last year she got off to a slow start in the 16-lap Motorcycle-Superstore.com Pro Singles final. Fellow heat winner Stephen Vanderkuur (Parkinson Brothers Racing) held the spot for three laps as Texter worked her way to the front, drawing large cheers from the grandstands with every pass.
Shayna Texter on the #25A DFW Honda CRF450R leads the rest of the pack in route to winning the Knoxville Half-Mile round of the 2012 AMA Pro Motorcycle-Superstore.com Pro Singles final on September 8. AMA Pro Flat Track photo by Dave Hoenig.
Once in front, it was hammer down as she steadily increased her lead. "Last year was a different experience, having to battle from beginning to end," said Texter referring to last year's race-long war with Briar Bauman. "These guys didn't make it easy on me. All these guys out here are competitors on the track but racing aside we make up a good family." Jake Cunningham (Schiller's Tree Service) grabbed second on lap ten. In the closing laps Cunningham was able to shake the big war over third and held a good lead for second. Vanderkuur slipped back into the clutches of Jake Shoemaker (Montgomeryville Cycle Center / Bob Weirbach Racing) and Wyatt Maguire (Kirkland Racing / Pro1 Racing). Despite the close combat that is the way they finished.
The Motorcycle-Superstore.com Pro Singles championship is coming down to a four rider battle with Stephen Vanderkuur holding the advantage over Ryan Wells by seven, 137 to 130. Jake Shoemaker and Jason Isennock are still in the hunt with 126 and 121 points respectively. The injured Gerit Callies has dropped from points leader to fifth at this time.
Pro Singles Race Results Pro Singles Point Standings
Sunoco "Go the Distance" Award Update
Jason Isennock - 211.14
Jake Shoemaker - 208.97
Ryan Wells - 203.19
Wyatt Maguire - 199.81
Stephen Vanderkuur 191.33
The stars of AMA Pro Flat Track will return to the Illinois State Fairgrounds on September 15-16, 2012. For tickets and information, please visit http://www.illinoismda.com/
Springfield Short Track & Mile II
September 15-16, 2012
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 www.amaproracing.com.
For additional information contact:
AMA Pro Racing Communications, (386) 492-1014,
More on the Knoxville Half-Mile can be found below!
Thanks to AMA Pro Flat Track for this great review video of the Knoxville Half-Mile with winner Kenny Coolbeth, Jr., produced by the great team of Will & Yve from The Fast and Dirty.com:
Dave Hoenig was on-hand at Knoxville pulling double-duty while penning this great article over at Cycle News.........:
.....and also shooting some darn fine shots for the AMA and his always bitchin' site, Flat Trak Fotos.com:
And again we thank the great folks at the Blue Crew at AMA Pro Flat Track for the full results from the Knoxville Half-Mile: