Thursday, August 29, 2013

Round 9 of the 2013 AMA Pro Flat Track presented by J&P Cycles Grand National Championship Review of the Virginia Mega-Mile

Round 9 of the 2013 AMA Pro Flat Track presented by J&P Cycles Grand National Championship season saw the stars of The Rolling Thunder Show head to the Colonial Downs Raceway in New Kent, VA. for an event that would be held on the longest track that the series has ever encountered in modern times and in recent history.

Measuring 1 1/4 miles in length, the massive track that sits just east of Richmond, VA. is normally used as a horse racing facility, and not only the size of the venue proved trying for the teams and riders, but the dusty conditions that existed even a day after a complete soaking by Mother Nature.

Many a team encountered some sort of problem due to those conditions, and several of the top teams and riders also suffered major mechanical failures, or even multiple failures, throughout the day's events.  Most notable among those were current overall points leader Brad Baker losing two motors on his #12 Dodge Brothers Racing H-D XR750, one of which was suffered during the shortened 18-lap National main which took The Bullet out of the running early and relegated him to a 19th-place finish.  And expected event winner Bryan Smith, on the #42 Crosley Radio/Howerton Motorsports Kawasaki rocket was also cursed with an unknown electrical malady that caused his EX650-based mount to falter down the stretch, come back to fire and allow him to finish the final, but well down in 12th-place after running away with the early part of the program and opening laps of the main.

But those that did benefit from the downfall of others, as well as prosper on the wide-open track made for quite a show, and the one that came away the top dog on the day was defending AMA Grand National Champion Jared Mees on the #1 Rogers Racing/Blue Springs/Las Vegas H-D-sponsored XR750. 

Mees was able to capitalize on the misfortunes of the early leaders and hang in for his first win of the season, his second mile win of his career (Springfield Mile I 2011) and the first race win for his new tuner, Kenny Tolbert.  After the year that Mees has had in terms of injuries, including the broken arm that his still healing from his practice crash in Ashland, OH. in mid June as well as his dislocated shoulder suffered during the Castle Rock event several weeks ago, The Jammer hung tough to scoop up the fixings at the Mega-Mile and mega event held at Colonial Downs.

In the shot above, Mees can be seen during the final round of qualifying on the #1 Rogers Racing XR at the Indy Mile on August 17.

After a decent but tough weekend overall for the Lloyd Brothers Motorsports team the week previous at the legendary Indy Mile, misfortunes were overcome as the #17 Lloyd Brothers/Ramspur Winery/Foremost Insurance Group-backed Ducati of the 2-Time AMA Grand National Singles Series Champion found the high line and the rev line to pass everyone in the field after being relegated to a fourth-row start due to suspected electrical problems right before taking his sighting lap.

Wiles opted for the fourth-row and lone spot behind the field in case the miss on the big red Duc wouldn't clear out, and found out quickly that whatever caused the big 'L-twin' to misfire quickly cleared out and was Hammerin at full rev once underway.  From that point, Hammerin Hank did what he is famous for, and took off for the front, and only managed to miss the Rogers Racing XR of winner Mees when the field in the 18-lap National had seen the checkers fly, and had actually gotten to within just shy of 2 seconds of The Jammer at the race's end. 

And new team mate Jake Johnson, after having two mounts go south on him at Indy in his heat and semi and being forced to start the Indiana State Fairgrounds-hosted event on a provisional, was able to regroup for a solid 7th-place finish in Virginia in his second ride for the Ohio/Indiana and Michigan-based LBM team. 

Not a bad weekend overall for the boys and with Springfield coming up in less then 48 hours, the rest of the teams and riders now have to wonder if the LBM camp will find their full stride come race time Saturday afternoon.  If they do, there are a couple of expected winners for the SF Mile I & II events that may start to sweat if it does, and could happen.

In the shot above, Henry can be seen talking with one of the LBM crew (middle, left of center) as the rest of the team goes about their duties prior to the first round of practice at Indy on August 17.  Even the team co-owners can be seen getting wild and crazy with the wrenches in the heat of the action, which shows you the dedication these guys have for their riders and team, let alone the sport.  Either that or they want to make sure and keep new crew chief Brent Armbruster (kneeling, second from left working on Jake Johnson's bike) honest and on his toes.

TJ Burnett Farms Kawasaki rider Brandon Robinson rounded out the podium at Colonial Downs and made it two-for-two in as many races for landing on the podium after taking a fall in his heat race on the #44 TJ Burnett Farms/USC/James Hart Racing Kawasaki EX650.  While leading in his heat, BRob44 came out of turn 4 and did a low slide that turned him and his mount around in front of the pack.

Thankfully, no harm, no foul as the too tall rider out of Pennsylvania again showed strong form and big b...s to come back in the final to card his fourth podium and fifth top-5 of the season.  "I've never been to a track where we ran wide open, feet on the pegs and throttle pegged like we did at Colonial Downs and I had some fun," stated BRob44 after the weekend's events.  And his results showed after nailing down another spot on the box for the Southern Illinois-based team owned by one of the strongest and biggest fans of AMA Pro Flat Track.

Team owner TJ Burnett, who missed making the trip to Virginia, was in Indy just a day after going under the knife for kidney stone surgery on his return from the Great Northwest swing earlier in the week.  Not expecting to make it to Indy after his surgery, the big man from Illinois was on-hand at Indy and hanging tough for someone who just hours earlier had been in a hospital bed in the Chicago area.  To give you an idea of how tough and dedicated this guy is, he stated that he was more 'torn up about the loss of the motor' at Indy that Brandon suffered then he was about healing up after his surgery.  "I can handle the healing, it's losing the motor like that that hurts me," stated the likeable farmer and flat track team owner during the Indy weekend.  Now that's dedication! 

In the shot above, Robinson and his crew chief, James Hart, line up the roaring Burnett Kawi on the second row at Indy prior to the start of the night's National main on August 17.  Hart, who has done more then his share of work this year in rebuilding lost motors and tracking down several mechanical ills suffered throughout the season, is just as calm, cool and collected as he looks in this shot and does a superb job of keeping BRob44 and the team's rocket roosters in check, and does a darn good job of it.

With the series heading to Springfield for rounds 10 & 11 of the 2013 AMA Pro Flat Track presented by J&P Cycles Grand National Championship season this weekend, it's go or go home time for all of the teams and riders in the greatest racing show on two wheels in the world.  With the two Springfield Miles, Santa Rosa and the season ender in Pomona, it's time to get it together as the season is winding down quickly.

While you ready yourself for one of the biggest and best weekend's in racing, you can also read Larry Lawrence's great article in Cycle News from Colonial Downs to help get you geared up for what will be another stellar weekend of racing at the Illinois State Fairgrounds mile oval.

AMA Pro Flat Track presented by J&P Cycles Round 9 Recap Virginia Mega Mile

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (August 28, 2013) - Round 9 of AMA Pro Flat Track presented by J&P Cycles at Colonial Downs in New Kent, Va. last weekend marked the first time ever that the series raced on the 1.25-mile pea gravel surface. Jared Mees (Rogers Racing/Harley-Davidson) took advantage of a Bryan Smith (Crosley Radio/Kawasaki) mechanical issue on lap nine and cruised to his first victory of the 2013 season. "I've had a very up-and-down season with injuries and what not," said Mees. "More than anything I just wanted to win the race."
Brad Baker #12, Jared Mees #1, Briar Bauman #14, and Jake Johnson #5 battle during round 9 of the 2013 AMA Pro Flat Track presented by J&P Cycles Grand National Championship season at the Virginia Mega-Mile at Colonial Downs Raceway on Saturday, August 24.  AMA Pro Flat Track photo by Dave Hoenig. 
For the first eight laps, it looked as if Smith would run away with his third victory of the season as he at one point controlled a very comfortable lead. Unfortunately for the Flint, Mich. product, his Kawasaki EX650 came up lame out of turn two on the ninth lap and forced him off the lead. After critical seconds had passed, Smith was indeed able to get his bike working again but it was too late. Smith was unable to make up the ground he'd lost and would go on to finish 12th, 25.362 seconds behind Mees. "Virginia was a heartbreaker," said Smith. "Mainly because I thought I had a really good chance to win. It was a rollercoaster of emotions, too. When I went down, one of the first people I saw pass me was Brad (Baker) and I thought to myself 'there goes the championship'. Then when I finally got my bike running again, he went down less than 30 seconds later and it was just a crazy chain of events. I'm really looking forward to Springfield and I have a tremendous amount of confidence in my team to give me the best chance to win moving forward."
Another notable rider to go down because of motorcycle issues was current Grand National Championship points leader Brad Baker (Dodge Bros Racing/Harley-Davidson).
Baker was in serious contention with Mees for second place before Smith sputtered out and wasn't far off the lead when he too had his motorcycle let him down. The severity of Baker's mishap, however, proved to be much worse than Smith's as the Eatonville, Wash. product was unable to continue racing, resulting in a catastrophic 19th place finish and putting his championship title hopes in jeopardy.
Winn, Mich.'s Henry Wiles (Lloyd Brothers Racing/Ducati) charged the field after starting all the way back on the fourth row to finish second in the main event. Wiles got a tremendous start and made his way up to the front group of riders within the race's first few laps. "The Ducati was running good," said Wiles. "I got off to a great start which was a huge factor in me coming in second. I have to thank my team and the slew of guys that are behind me, I can't thank them enough."
Starting from ninth on the grid, Brandon Robinson (TJ Burnett Farms/Kawasaki) followed up his impressive second-place finish at the Indy Mile with a third-place effort at Colonial Downs. A combination of a little luck with Baker and Smith falling out has put Robinson back in Grand National Championship discussions as the Oxford, Pa. native now sits third in the points. "It feels pretty good, especially after my heat crash while I was leading," said Robinson. "It was a long race for sure. I didn't get the best start after missing a shift but I just battled and kept pushing. Jared (Mees) and Henry (Wiles) were riding great, when I got in third position I just wanted to take it easy and land on the podium again."
Starting from the fifth slot, Briar Bauman (Monster Energy Kawasaki/Kawasaki) edged out Kenny Coolbeth, Jr. (Harley-Davidson Motor Co./Harley-Davidson) by .009 seconds to finish fourth for his best performance this season. The Salinas, Calif. product has landed in the top five in two out of the last three main events and looks to be heating up down the homestretch. Coolbeth Jr.'s fifth-place effort was equally impressive as he did so after starting from 15th on the grid.
AMA Pro Grand National results - Colonial Downs, Aug. 24, 2013

1. Jared Mees - Clio, Mich. - Harley-Davidson 
2. Henry Wiles - Winn, Mich. - Ducati 
3. Brandon Robinson - Oxford, Pa. - Kawasaki EX650 
4. Briar Bauman - Salinas, Calif. - Kawasaki EX650 
5. Kenny Coolbeth, Jr. - Morris, Conn. - Harley-Davidson 
6. JD Beach - Philpot, Ky. - Kawasaki EX650 
7. Jake Johnson - Coatesville, Pa. - Ducati
8. Johnny Lewis - Coatesville, Pa. - Triumph Bonneville
9. Jake Shoemaker - Glenmoore, Pa. - Kawasaki EX650 
10. Matt Weidman - Westerlo, N.Y. - Kawasaki EX650 
AMA Pro Grand National Championship Point Standings
Brad Baker (156)
Henry Wiles (139)
Bryan Smith (134)
Jared Mees (128)
Brandon Robinson (113)
Jake Johnson (101)
Kenny Coolbeth, Jr. (96)
Jeffrey Carver, Jr. (84)
Robert Pearson (82)
Stevie Bonsey (78)
AMA Pro J&P Cycles Pro Singles
Luckily for Cody Johncox (Sunnyside Cycle/Yamaha), the AMA Pro J&P Cycles Pro Singles main event was 10 laps and not an inch further as the New Yorker came out on top in a three-way photo finish between himself, Shayna Texter (Crosley Radio/DFW Honda) and Stephen Vanderkuur (Parkinson Brothers Racing/Honda). "It was great to win the first AMA Pro Flat Track main event held at Colonial Downs," said Johncox. "I got as small as I could on the final backstretch and just prayed they didn't draft by me."
Despite starting the main event from 10th on the grid, Texter fought her way to the stripe to finish second and it could have just as easily been her atop the podium if the race consisted of any more laps. Texter's runner-up performance marks her third straight finish inside the top two in mile-long races. "I unfortunately put myself on the second row to start the main event but I was able to put my head down and go to work," said Texter. "I came up a little bit short but it still is good for the points and I can't thank my team enough for working their butts off all day. I was also nice to have my family in attendance for the first time in a while."
Vanderkuur's third-place finish lifted him to third in the point standings and the defending J&P Cycles Pro Singles champion has given himself a chance to repeat with four rounds remaining. Jeffrey Lowery (Englehart Racing/Honda) and current J&P Cycles Pro Singles points leader Wyatt Maguire (Kirkland Racing/Yamaha) finished fourth and fifth, respectively, after the two were tangled up on the final lap. Lowery edged out Maguire by a mere .013 seconds for fourth place.
There wasn't a lot of movement at the top of the J&P Cycles Pro Singles point standings with Maguire finishing fifth and Ryan Wells (Waters Auto Body/Honda), who currently sits in second place in the points, finished sixth on his Honda CRF450R.
AMA Pro J&P Cycles Pro Singles results - Colonial Downs, Aug. 24, 2013
1. Cody Johncox - Attica, N.Y. Yamaha - YZ 450F
2. Shayna Texter - Willow Street, Pa. - Honda CRF450R
3. Stephen Vanderkuur - Davison, Mich. - Honda CRF450R 
4. Jeffery Lowery - St Louisville, Ohio - Honda CRF450R 
5. Wyatt Maguire - Mead, Wash. - Yamaha YZ 450F
6. Ryan Wells - Albion, N.Y. - Honda CRF450R
7. Justin Jones - Holley, N.Y. - Honda CRF450R 
8. J.R. Addison - Bucyrus, Ohio - Honda CRF450R 
9. Bronson Bauman - Salinas, Calif. - Honda CRF450R
10. Kyle Johnson - Twin Lake, Mich. - Kawasaki KX450F
AMA Pro J&P Cycles Pro Singles Point Standings
Wyatt Maguire (121)
Ryan Wells (116)
Stephen Vanderkuur (102)
Shayna Texter (97)
Kyle Johnson (91)
Rodney Spencer Jr. (89)
Dominic Colindres (86)
Bronson Bauman (67)
Ryan Kearns (60)
Jason Isennock (59)
Next Up

AMA Pro Flat Track presented by J&P Cycles heads to Springfield, Ill. for Rounds 10 and 11. The doubleheader Labor Day weekend will feature the stars of the sport competing on the legendary Springfield Mile for the first time this year on Saturday, August 31, 2013 and again the following day on Sunday, September 1, 2013. For tickets and information, please visit
About AMA Pro Flat Track presented by J&P Cycles:
AMA Pro Flat Track presented by J&P Cycles is a national motorcycle racing series in North America. Sanctioned by AMA Pro Racing, the Series is one of the oldest forms of motorcycle racing and is highly regarded as the most competitive form of dirt track racing in the world. The 2013 schedule consists of rounds on the country's finest dirt track courses. For more information on AMA Pro Flat Track presented by J&P Cycles, please visit
 Presenting Sponsors
Virginia Mega Mile
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

For additional information contact:
AMA Pro Racing Communications, (386) 492-1014,


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