Saturday, September 22, 2012

AMA Flat Track: Looking Back at the Final Springfield Short Track National

Round 12 of the 2012 AMA Pro Flat Track Harley-Davidson Insurance Grand National Championship presented by season saw the series head to the Illinois State Fairgrounds Multipurpose Arena for the final Springfield Short Track National on September 15, and although the final outcome was as almost to be expected in terms of who would win, the rest of the results showed that there is a big handful of competitors in the series that are almost ready to step in and take over in the future. 

With Henry Wiles taking his 6th victory in-a-row in the late summer running of the 450 Singles Series class at the little track, The Hammer tied former 7-Time AMA Grand National Champion for overall short track wins (9) but also added to his long list of wins on the State Capital fairgrounds (10, including four TT wins.)  Wiles had to work for this one, though, but in the end even recovered from an almost get-off earlier in the evening to secure his place in Grand National Singles Championship history.

In the shot above, after the re-start due to the red flag caused when Mikey Rush #54 crashed out of two, Wiles took back over on the #17 Don's Kawasaki/DPC Racing/Nick Nazzisi/Schiller's Tree Svc-sponsored KX450F in heat race three to take the win over Jared Mees on the #9 Montgomeryville Cycle/National Cycle/Lucas Oil/Rogers Racing-backed Honda CRF450R and Jeffrey Carver, Jr. on the #23 Carver's BBQ/Twigg Cycles/Leo Welch/Kiesow-sponsored Yamaha YZ450F, and Bryan Smith #42 who got around Sammy Halbert on the #7 The South Ass/Fredericktown Yamaha/GYTR/Van's Yamaha to secure 4th spot, while Sammy was forced to race his semi and then take a provisional to make the main with an eventual 14th-place overall finish.  Carver brought it home in 7th-place in the National for another solid effort for the Alton, IL. resident and '10 AMA Pro Singles Champion.

Although he looks pretty dejected on the podium after coming home in 2nd-place, '09 AMA Pro Singles Champion and '11 AMA Pro Flat Track Rookie of the Year Brad 'The Bullet' Baker let everyone know at the Springfield Short Track that he is knocking on the door to take his first National main in the near future.  The Bullet led 20 of 25 laps until Hammerin' Hank got around him with a close inside pass during the National, to win by just over .9 seconds.  Baker's time is coming and it's not far off after his great performance last Saturday night.

After Henry's celebration for his 6th-win at Springfield, it was Jared Mees' turn to take the top spot on the box after he clinched the 2012 AMA Pro Flat Track Singles Series Championship after his 3rd-place finish in the National.  Mees adds to his '09 and '11 AMA Pro Flat Track Twins Series Championships and still holds a solid lead in the overall point standings over Jake Johnson and Sammy Halbert.

2012 AMA Pro Flat Track Saddlemen Rookie of the Year contender Briar Bauman again showed why he began the season as the one to watch this year after his 2011 year-ending string of top runs.  Bauman took the #10Z Rod Lake Racing/USC Racing/Burnett Farms/Hart Racing-backed Honda to a 4th-place finish in the main and won his first-ever Dash for Cash event at the Springfield Short Track.  He also is one to keep an eye on in the not-too-distant future.

Jake Johnson again showed why he still carries the #1 on his Zanotti Racing/Schaeffer's H-D/Southland Pro Suspension/Arai-sponsored Honda in winning his heat (the 2nd fastest of the evening), coming home in 3rd in the Dash behind Bauman and Baker, and ahead of title rival Mees, and surviving a hard-fought race in the main with Mees and the rest of the field to card a 5th-place finish.

Jared Mees gets some chat time in with Howerton Motorsports master builder Rick Howerton during a break in the on-track action at the short track.  Mees talked with Rick about his set-up on the #9 Montgomeryville Cycle Honda (which he prepares himself throughout the year) and even tried talking the man behind the Howerton Kawasaki Twins Series rocket into building him a Twins ride for the 2013 season.  Howerton admits he barely has time to put into his mile effort with Bryan Smith as things are now while also trying to run his racing exhaust manufacturing business on Indy's west side, so the chances of that happening (unfortunately) are slim.  But Mees wasn't ready to give up in trying to talk Howerton into it.

Baker shows the form that kept him nearly-perfect at the Springfield Short Track all night long during the final qualifying session on his #12 Brothers Powersports/D&D Exhaust/Schenk Racing Enterprise/Boughner Racing Suspension-backed Honda.  Baker qualified 2nd, was 2nd in the Dash and brought it home in 2nd-place in the main for a string of deuces on the evening.

Thanks to Larry Lawrence and Cycle News for this great write-up on last weekend's action at the final Springfield Short Track National for the foreseeable future:

Here's the complete results of round 12 of the 2012 AMA Pro Flat Track Harley-Davidson Insurance Grand National Championship presented by season at the Springfield Short Track, thanks to AMA Pro Flat Track:

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