With a long break until round 3 of the 2014 AMA Pro Flat Track Grand National Championship season at the Springfield Mile I on May 25, the Daytona Short Track season-openers will leave us all wondering what else could or will transpire in the coming months of the new season ahead.
With two new event winners being heralded at Daytona (Briar Bauman in round 1, and Kenny Coolbeth, Jr. in round 2), Daytona left us with some interesting stories to ponder for the weeks ahead. These are just a few to ponder for the next 57 days ahead.
Although Coolbeth isn't a 'new' winner in terms of his overall background and history in the sport, not to mention his three AMA Grand National Twins Championships ('06-'08) and his Singles Series Championship ('07), in 21 years of trying this was his first victory in Daytona, which coupled with his first race outings with his first new team in over seven years leaves speculation and hope wide-open for one of the series most popular and experienced men.
Bauman on the other hand, while taking his first of what should be many Expert-ranked wins in round 1, answered the questions many had been wondering since his first win as a Pro-ranked rider at Peoria in 2011, which is how many more and how soon will those wins come? More frequently we can all assume should he not be faced with moving back and forth from team to team as this young man has been doing since turning Expert just over two full seasons ago.
Sammy Halbert answered a lot of questions about his off season in 2013 by leaving Daytona with a healthy points lead, not to mention looking like the Sammy of old-winning and confident. Although The Slammer didn't win either of the National mains, his double fast time qualifying efforts, night 1 Dash win and 2-4 effort for his work paid off in spades.
Henry Wiles seemed, for the most part, to escape what many may call the curse of Daytona by carding two 6th-place finishes for the season-openers, something he hasn't been able to do almost ever in Daytona, even though it took a provisional card to get that done in round 1. But his working through the field to garner that first finish was the stuff champions are made of, and with a new team in the working for his Twins Series efforts, and what everyone knows The Hammer can do on the two remaining Singles events, and especially at Peoria, leaves us all pondering how strong of a year he could have going forward.
In the shot above from round 15 of the 2011 AMA Pro Flat Track Grand National Championship at the Springfield Short Track, the Dash for Cash event gets ready to rock 'n roll at the Multipurpose Arena at the Illinois State Fairgrounds on September 3.
(L-R) Chad Cose on the #49 M.E.H. Corp/Arlen Ness/Bell-sponsored Honda CRF450R, Jake Johnson on the #1 Zanotti Racing/Schaeffer's H-D-backed Honda, Brad Baker on his #12 Brothers Powersports/MVR-backed Honda, Jeffrey Carver, Jr. on his #23 Van's Yamaha/Stevens Racing-sponsored Yamaha YZ450F (and eventual first-time Dash winner), Kenny Coolbeth, Jr. on his #2 Chaplin Kawasaki/Spectro Oils-sponsored KX450F and Henry Wiles on the #17 Monster Energy Kawasaki/Jones Bros-sponsored KX450F all get ready to battle in the evening's first points paying event.
And although there are many other great stories and things to look forward to for the season ahead, one thing is for certain, the story that is The Rolling Thunder Show is the series' ability to provide the best racing on two wheels in the world and that there is never a certain thing in racing, especially with the level of talent as seen in the world of AMA Pro Flat Track Grand National Championship racing.
You can catch up more with what happened two weeks ago in Daytona, not only with the press release below from AMA Pro Flat Track, but with the following round-up of action from some of the finest in the business!
Larry Lawrence was on hand covering the action for Cycle News in Daytona Beach. Check out his full report, photos and highlights here.
More action reports from Daytona Beach come from Dakota Dan Jacobson, Sr. as he filed this report on round 1 and this report on round 2 for Today's Cycle Coverage.com.
AMA Pro Flat Track rolled out their FansChoice.TV coverage for Daytona and from our point of view, the coverage was spot-on! Not only can you check out the action if you can't be at the track, but three cameras were on hand to give fans different angles of the action. Full races are archived for future viewing, and you can check out round 1 here and round 2 here to keep you from jonesing out for the next almost-two months break until Springfield.
AMA Pro Flat Track Grand National Championship Rounds 1 & 2 Recap DAYTONA Flat Track
|DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (March 20, 2014) - From heartbreak to heroics, there was no shortage of drama when AMA Pro Flat Track kicked off its 2014 season last weekend with its season opening rounds at DAYTONA Flat Track in Daytona Beach, Fla. on March 13-14, 2014. Both rounds proved to be a thrilling couple days of nonstop motorcycle racing action between some of the world's most prominent dirt track riders.|
Salinas, California's Briar Bauman's Round 1 effort was the one he'll want to remember most as he (Rod Lake Racing/Honda) took home the first Grand National main event victory of the young 2014 season. Bauman did so by almost a full two seconds over second place finisher and Graham, Wash. product Sammy Halbert (Vans Yamaha/Fredericktown Yamaha/Yamaha). As flawless as Bauman was in Round 1, his Round 2 performance was the exact opposite, as he finished 15th in the season's second Grand National main event of the year. However, at just 18-years-old, Bauman should and will be considered a threat to take it the distance on any given weekend.
Briar Bauman #14 won his first of what should be many AMA Pro Flat Track Grand National Championship events as an Expert-ranked rider at the Daytona Short Track I on March 13. After finishing in the 15th-place spot in night 2, the 2012 AMA Pro Flat Track Rookie of the Year leaves Daytona tied for the 5th-place spot in the overall championship with Stevie Bonsey, both with 28 points. AMA Pro Flat Track photo by Dave Hoenig.
As for Halbert, his second and fourth place finishes to begin 2014 were very impressive as the 26-year-old appears to be hitting his stride early on this season. "It was a great race," said Halbert speaking about his runner-up finish following the first main event. "I have to give it up to Briar (Bauman); he rode great the entire race. I thought I had something for him in the middle of the race when I kind of closed on him a bit but it was a tough track and I lost some time."
After claiming his first Grand National main event victory at Daytona a year ago, Oxford, Pennsylvania's Brandon Robinson (USC Kawasaki/Kawasaki) made another impressive showing in 2014, landing inside the top-five in both main events. Robinson earned a third place Round 1 finish and came all the way back from the fourth row in Round 2 to come away with a fifth place performance. "I was extremely happy to come from a long ways back and earn my first podium of the season," said Robinson speaking about his race one main event performance. "I kept pushing and pushing and finally got into good position where I could solidify a third place finish. My team and I worked very hard this offseason and this is a great way to start the season."
Morris, Connecticut's Kenny Coolbeth, Jr. (Zanotti Racing/Honda) earned a strong Round 2 main event win despite his forgettable 17th place Round 2 main event finish. After losing the Factory Harley-Davidson ride in the offseason, Coolbeth, Jr. was quickly scooped up by Zanotti Racing and the two look to make up quite the tandem heading into future 2014 race weekends. "I've wanted this win for a long time and it feels amazing to finally get it," said Coolbeth, Jr. following his Round 2 main event victory. "My new team and I have been working hard all winter and I'm very excited for things to come this season and seasons beyond."
Coatesville, Penn. product and 2011 Grand National Champion Jake Johnson (Ramspur Winery/Honda) looked very average during the first round, posting mediocre practice and qualifying times and coming in 10th in the main event. However, Johnson got his bike in gear for round two, as he won the Dash for Cash and finished second in the night's main event and boosted his position in the points all the way up to fifth before exiting Daytona. "I was feeling a little rough during round one," said Johnson. "I'm glad I was able to recover like I did for round two with second and a Dash for Cash victory. It feels good to be right in the hunt now and I'm ready to make a run at this thing."
Winn, Michigan's Henry Wiles (Don's Kawasaki/Kawasaki) earned back-to-back sixth place finishes to begin the season in Daytona. Though his results were far from spectacular, Wiles can't be too bummed about starting off the season in the top-ten in points.
One of the biggest storylines and set of unfortunate circumstances that stemmed from last weekend's opening rounds at DAYTONA Flat Track was defending Grand National Champion Brad Baker and his inability to find the top-ten in either of the season's first two main events. Baker was disqualified after a Round 1 incident in the pits involving him and his team's misuse of his motorcycle in Thursday night's final. As if the DNF wasn't a bad enough beginning to the season for the current No. 1 plate holder, Baker then went on to finish 11th in Friday night's main event to set him all the way back to 16th in the overall championship points race. Following the conclusion of Round 2, it was safe to say the Dryad, Wash. product and defending title-holder couldn't get out of Daytona fast enough. However, Baker's nightmarish start to the 2014 season is realistically only a minor setback for him as there are still 13 rounds remaining, 11 of which he will compete aboard the heavily sought-after Factory Harley-Davidson XR750.
The stars of AMA Pro Flat Track will head to Springfield, Ill. for the Springfield Mile at the Illinois State Fairgrounds on May 25, 2014.
How to Watch
FansChoice.tv will be the official home for live streaming coverage of AMA Pro Flat Track and AMA Pro Road Racing events in 2014. The site will also provide coverage of IMSA's development and single-make series, and NASCAR's touring and weekly series.
About AMA Pro Flat Track
AMA Pro Flat Track is a national motorcycle racing series in North America and is considered one of the oldest forms of motorcycle racing. Sanctioned by AMA Pro Racing, the Series is highly regarded as the most competitive form of dirt track racing in the world. The 2014 schedule consists of 16 rounds on the country's finest flat track courses. For more information on AMA Pro Flat Track, please visit www.amaproracing.com/ft.
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, firstname.lastname@example.org