Sunday, August 25, 2013

AMA Pro Flat Track: Brad Baker Race Report Update Including the Sacto Mile and the Peoria TT

2009 AMA Pro Flat Track Pro Singles Champion and 2011 AMA Pro Flat Track Saddlemen Rookie of the Year Brad 'The Bullet' Baker has had a phenomenal year in the 2013 AMA Pro Flat Track presented by J&P Cycles Grand National Championship. 

Including his DQ from the Daytona Short Track II round on March 15, Baker has finished no worse than a 5th-place finish up to and including the Peoria TT round, where he brought his #12 Fun Mart Cycles KTM 450 SX-F home in the 2nd-place spot behind new Peoria TT record-setting winner Henry Wiles, who won his 9th-straight event in Thunder Valley on August 11.

Baker, however, by virtue of his 2nd-place finish in the 25-lap National main and by winning the Dash for Cash at Peoria when Wiles failed to make the Dash event, secured the 2013 AMA Pro Flat Track Grand National Singles Series Championship.  Baker still leads the overall championship points standings as well.

In the shot above, The Bullet is in the middle of a mix of riders on the first lap of round 7 of the 2013 AMA Pro Flat Track presented by J&P Cycles Grand National Championship at the Peoria TT between turns one and two.  Baker, in his first National ride on his #12 Fun Mart Cycles/Specialty Fabrication/Schenk Enterprises KTM, battles with Steve Bonsey on the #80 Zanotti Racing/RGR/Arai-sponsored Honda CRF450R, Jeffrey Carver, Jr. on the #23 Mack Daddy Racing/Kiesow Racing/Eddie Atkins-backed Honda, Mick Kirkness (in his return to the States racing from his native Australia) on the #87 self-sponsored Honda, and nearby Morton, Illinois resident Rob Pearson on the #27 Weirbach Racing/KDM Forest Products/Michael King-backed Honda.

Round 5 of the season saw the stars of The Rolling Thunder Show head to the first mile event of the season at the Sacramento Mile, where Baker and the #12 Dodge Brothers Racing/Sefnco Communications/Specialty Fabrication-sponsored Harley-Davidson XR750 came away with another fine top-5 result of 4th-place behind winner Bryan Smith, defending 2012 AMA Grand National Champion Jared Mees, and Daytona Short Track II winner Brandon Robinson.

In the shot above, Baker looks over his Dodge Brothers Racing XR750 in the pits at the Indy Mile on August 17 while team wrench Dave Atherton makes some adjustments to the front of The Bullet's mount, and former AMA Grand National #23 Kevin 'Cupcake' Atherton talks the day's events at the Indiana State Fairgrounds ahead of the team.

You can read 'The Bullet's' full press release below that starts with the Lodi Cycle Bowl event in July and runs through the Peoria TT, round 7 of the 2013 AMA Pro Flat Track presented by J&P Cycles Grand National Championship season on August 11, below.  And keep an eye out championship points leader BB#12 as the series gets ready to head to the Springfield Mile I&II rounds this Saturday, August 31 and Sunday, September 1.

Press release courtesy of Brad 'The Bullet' Baker, the 2009 AMA Pro Flat Track Pro Singles Champion, 2011 AMA Pro Flat Track Saddlemen Rookie of the Year, and the current overall points leader in the 2013 AMA Pro Flat Track presented by J&P Cycles Grand National Championship season.

Brad the Bullet Baker’s Sacramento Mile through Peoria TT Race Report.
August 2013

   Hey everyone, sorry for long delay on a race report. This past month has consisted of so much traveling, preparation and racing, but man, has it been a fun and successful couple of weeks!

  The trip started off in California where we made a stop at the Lodi Cycle Bowl for a good purse race on the ¼ mile blue groove the night before the Sacramento Mile. The night was almost flawless as I set Fast time, won the dash for cash, and led the majority of the main event until National number 91 Mikey Martin slipped by with several laps to go and making me settle with a second place finish.

 The next night took us to the legendary Sacramento Mile which would be our first Mile race of the season. I was really excited for this day because I knew I would be riding the best motorcycle I had ever ridden on a mile in my short career. The day started decent as I felt really comfortable on the bike and I set the 4th fast’s time in qualifying.

Brad Baker on the #12 Dodge Brothers Racing H-D XR750 is shown in action at the Sacramento Mile in round 5 of the 2013 AMA Pro Flat Track presented by J&P Cycles Grand National Championship.  Photo courtesy of Brad Baker by Tom Hnatiw.

  In the heat I had a great battle with Brandon Robinson and Mikey Martin. Coming off of turn 4 on the last lap I thought I had the race sewed up but right as I was about cross the finish line Robinson and Martin double drafted me putting me out of the dash for cash and on the second row for the main event. This would be the first dash and front row I hadn’t made all season. Walking out for the main event I had my serious race face on. I knew I would have to ride hard to get to the front and make as many points as possible for my championship effort.

  I decided to start on the 3rd row outside because it was really close to the groove and I had a feeling that I would have enough momentum going by turn 1 to pass a lot of riders on the outside. My plan worked out just as I had hoped! On lap 1 I came by the start finish in 7th position. I was a man on a mission, by lap 6 I had already moved into 2nd place and had my sights set of the king of Sacramento, “Flyin Bryan Smith” #42 who was having a flawless night. Once I caught him getting around him was a different story. The Crosley Radio Kawasaki is bad fast in a straight line and Bryan is smart and knows what he has to do to keep the Harley riders behind him in the corners. It took me until about lap 15 and I was finally able to draft him enough at the end of the straightaway to beat him in the shut-off contest and slide into the lead going into turn 1. My lead lasted about a lap until some new riders came into play when the former champ Jared Mees and Sammy Halbert drafted past me at the was now a dog fight to the checkered! There were now 5 of us swapping the lead every lap. It wasn’t long until Bryan used his straightaway speed and moved himself back into the lead and started to control the race again. On the last lap I thought I had myself in a good position which was stuck right on Bryan’s rear wheel in second place. For the whole race is you were getting towed by him down the straight the other riders wouldn’t be able to draft past before the finish line. I thought I was coming home in second until Bryan made a quick swerve to break the draft which pit me in dead air and gave the draft to Jared Mees and Brandon Robison who were close behind and I was shoved off the podium in the last 100 feet.

  This was kind of a bummer but that is mile racing for you and it was by far the most excited mile race I have been in and it was my best mile finish of my career. Even better, I would be heading to my home state national with a 20 point lead in the overall championship.

  Moving on to the Mt. Saint Helens Motorcycle Club TT in Castle Rock Washington. This is always an exciting race for me because it is literally only 40 minutes away from where I grew up! I get to show all my friends and family exactly what I do and have them understand why I am gone all summer long and why my life is so different. But mainly just getting to spend time at home and take in all the little moments is what its all about!

  The weekend started off on Friday night for a big purse race on the short track that makes up ¾ of the TT track. Unfortunately, Mother Nature decided to come hangout with us again and the race was canceled due to rain. Luckily, when I woke up in my own bed on race day the birds were chirping and the sun was out so there was going to be nothing holding back a great night of racing this time. It took me a little while in practice and qualifying to get the bike dialed in the way I wanted. By the end of the sessions I eventually got it figured out and I qualified 6th for the heat races. I got a good start in the heat and finished a close second behind national number 80 Stevie Bonsey putting myself on the front row for the main and in dash for cash! In the dash I did what I had to do. I jumped off the start to a quick lead and put my head down for a solid 4 laps to win my 3rd dash for cash of the season and pick up some valuable points for the championship! 

  The main event didn’t go quite as well as the dash. A good start is key at this track and i didn’t get one this time. I came around in 5th on the first lap and that’s right where I stayed the whole race. I didn’t lose much on the leaders but I couldn’t seem to gain on them either. A top 5 is nothing to complain about and I managed to extend my point lead by 7 points over Bryan Smith.
  The following week was an intense one. The schedule was to race in Sturgis, South Dakota on Tuesday, Sioux Falls on Thursday, Peoria, Illinois Speedway on Friday then the Peoria Motorcycle Club Grand National TT on Sunday. I was pretty excited about this trip because my dad was going to be my co-pilot on this journey and we hadn’t traveled together in several years.

  We started off the trip right on track. I won both main events in Sturgis and walked away with all the money. The next day we just hung out in Sturgis during the bike rally and had some fun. Thursday was also going to be an interesting day because I was going to ride a KTM 450 for the first time in my career. I have heard very many great things about these motorcycles and thanks to Funmart Cycle Center out of Moline, Illinois I was able to give one a try. My maiden voyage on the new motorcycle couldn’t have gone any better. I won both main events on the Sioux Falls Cycle Clubs technical TT over some really good riders and felt very comfortable on the bike for just hoping on and riding it.

  My dad and I hopped back in the rig and drove all night to be able to race the following night at the Peoria Speedway! I am always excited to race this track because it always calls for some fast close racing! I almost made it another flawless night but Henry Wiles had to ruin it on the last lap of the dash for cash. It had to be one of the closest finishes of the year as we crossed the finish line side by side! Some said I won, some said he won but ultimately the ref gave the win to him. That was alright because in the main event I showed them who was the fast’s rider of the night! I nailed the hole shot and set sale. By the end of the race I had over a straightaway lead over Henry and it would mark my second win at the track this year.
  Last but not least, is the biggest day of my Expert career to this date. Rolling into Thunder Valley that morning I had the Expert Singles points lead with the pressure of 8-time Peoria TT winner just a mere 2 points behind me! I knew I would have to ride the best I had ever ridden there and have some luck on my side to walk away with the championship.

  I made a pretty strong decision just the day before the race that I was going to try riding the Funmart Dyno Center KTM 450 again in an effort to give myself that extra edge. This came really surprising to most people since I have been so fast and comfortable on my Honda’s but I was confident it was a wise decision. What a wise decision it was!

  Immediately felt really comfortable on the bike in the first practice and qualified 2nd with a time almost identical to Henry Wiles. I ended up qualifying 4th overall and I still felt like myself and the bike could get faster. In the heat it would be the perfect test to see how I stacked to Mr. Wiles since I was lined up right next to him in heat one. I got off the line 4th which wasn’t good because Wiles was in second and looking to make short work of JD Beach. I moved up on the first lap but Wiles had already got into the lead as well. Beach and I had a great battle for the rest of the race. It seems like every time I come to Peoria JD somehow manages to be right in front of me, it’s been this way since our first time racing Peoria in 2009 as Pro Single riders. It seemed like it just wasn’t my day to beat Henry in the championship but then came my luck! With two to go Henry pulled off the track with a mechanical problem! His put me In the dash for cash and a chance to put some valuable points on him before the main event. This isn’t the best way to get an edge to beat someone in a championship but you have to remember that Wiles and the rest of the riders had been lucking out all season long since I had a lost 19 singles and overall championship points in a bogus protest on the second night in Daytona. 

  When the Dash for Cash was up I knew I had no other choice but to win the thing because I knew Wiles would still be the one to beat in the main event. I put my heat down and that’s exactly what I did! I got off the line second and by lap two I was in the lead and pulling away! This marked my 4th dash win of the season and gave me a real good shot at the Singles championship!

Henry Wiles #17 leads Brad Baker #12 after coming off the back row at the Peoria TT on August 11, 2013.  Wiles won the battle but The Bullet won the war in taking home a 2nd-place finish to nab the 2013 AMA Pro Flat Track Grand National Singles Series Championship in Thunder Valley.  Photo courtesy of Brad Baker by Randy Washam/Washam Photo Art/

  In the main I got off the line around 4th. I knew I would have to pin it and get to the front because Wiles would be coming. In several laps myself and the Funmart KTM had marched to the lead and started to pull away. That was until about lap 10 when Henry had caught me and slid underneath me going into turn one. I now knew all I had to do was keep him in my sights because if he won I would have to get second to get the championship. I may not have had anything for him but no other rider had anything for me either.

Brad Baker holds up the 2013 AMA Pro Flat Track Grand National Singles Series Championship award after capturing the Singles Championship with a hard-earned 2nd-place finish at the Peoria TT.  Event winner Henry Wiles and 3rd-place finisher JD Beach share the podium with The Bullet.  Photo courtesy of Brad Baker by Dave Hoenig/Flat Trak

  I came home with a solid 2nd place finish but better yet the Expert Singles Champion! I learned a lot of things about Peoria that day and I think it will really benefit me to maybe be the first rider to defeat Henry Wiles in the future. The singles championship was really cool but I still have my sights set on the ultimate prize, the overall Grand National Championship!
  I now sit 29 points in front of Wiles who is in second and 42 points ahead of Smith who will be my biggest threat for the remaining races. I can’t thank all my awesome Sponsors and supporters that help make my dreams come true each and every day.

 Six more races left in the season, please stay tuned!

Special Thanks to:

Funmart Cycle and Dyno Center, Dodge Bros Racing, Sefnco Communications, Specialty Fabrication Incorporation, Schenk Racing Enterprises, Silkolene Lubricants, Boughner Racing Suspension, Saddlemen, MVR, Jack MIlls, Perry’s Harley Davidson, Cometic Gaskets, EBC Brakes,, Barnett, Checkered Flag Productions, Millennium Technologies, D&D Exhaust, Motion Pro, K&N Filters, Arai Helmets, KIbblewhite, Brother Powersports, CP Carrillo, Fusion Graphix, YSR, Mitas Tires, Crank Works Incorporation, Gene and Gail Cummings, Micro Blue Racing, MVR, Jack MIlls, Defy All Odds, Light Shoe, 100%, Oneal USA, Atlas Brace Technologies, Matrix Concepts, Alpinestars, Micah Racing Services, Spencer Aircraft, Paint By Smokey, Rockstar Powder Coating, Renthal, PMP Sprockets, Eddie Mulder 12, Devol Engineering, Mototassinari, Loudmouth MX, DandW Racing, Boysen, Acerbis, PMP Sprockets, Moto Hose, Bam it All, Pacific Auto Trim

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