2012 AMA Grand National Champion Jared Mees took advantage of fast man and two-time Lima winner Sammy Halbert's misfortune last night and cruised to the win by just over 2.6 seconds ahead of runner-up Brandon Robinson and by just over 2.8 seconds ahead of 3rd-place finisher Bryan Smith at the Lima Half-Mile, round 5 of the AMA Pro Flat Track Grand National Championship.
Mees, on the Kenny Tolbert-tuned #9 Rogers Racing/Las Vegas H-D/Blue Springs H-D-backed XR750, took his third win at the track where he won his very first AMA Grand National event in 2005 and then won again in 2007. It was The Jammer's 13th-overall win of his Expert career.
Halbert, who was fast all night from the get-go setting fast time, winning the fast heat and powering to just over a 1.5 second win in the Dash for Cash, looked to have it sewed up for what would have been his third win in-a-row at the Allen County Fairgrounds, saw his dreams disappear in smoke-literally-when the engine on his #7 South East H-D XR blew up just shy of the half-way point of the 25-lap Grand National main.
Robinson, who had started on the second row, was able to get around mid-point leader Smith and took the runner-up spot on the #44 USC Racing Kawasaki, while Smith rounded out the podium on the #42 Villa-Esparza Kawasaki mile rocket. Obviously, the Kawi teams are getting closer to getting the parallel twins worked out on the half-mile tracks, especially last night's pea gravel cushion. Although only two other Kawis finished in the top-10 (Jake Shoemaker #55 in 8th-place, Jake Constantine #13 in 10th-place), the gap seems to be closing in spite of Kawis only having garnered 7th-10th places two weeks ago at Knoxville.
Points leader Kenny Coolbeth, Jr. ended up in 4th-place on the #2 Zanotti Racing XR, while 2nd-place points man Jake Johnson rounded out the top-5 on the #5 Lloyd Brothers Motorsports Ducati, his fourth top-5 in-a-row for the 2010-2011 AMA Grand National Champion.
Coolbeth still holds the point heading into Hagerstown this coming Saturday, July 5, with Johnson still in the 2nd-place slot (95-86). Mees moved up a spot in the standings into 3rd-place with his win last night and now only sits a single point behind Johnson (85 points). Robinson sits another 12 back in the 4th-place spot (73 points), while Halbert now sits in the 5th-place slot with 72 points. Smith now sits in the 6th-place spot with 60 points on his revamped team for the still young 2014 season.
In the shot above, Mees heads to the line after rider intros at the Springfield Mile I on May 25 during round 3 of the 2014 AMA Pro Flat Track Grand National Championship, while the second-winningest tuner in Grand National history, Kenny Tolbert, rolls the #9 Rogers Racing/Las Vegas H-D/Blue Springs H-D-sponsored mount towards the starting grid.
This season is turning into an epic battle with 11 races left to go in the season heading to the Hagerstown Half-Mile this Saturday, where defending AMA Grand National Champion Brad Baker got the first win of his young career last season. Baker wasn't a factor last night after the #1 Harley-Davidson Motor Co-sponsored XR wasn't even able to complete a single lap in the main.
Full results from last night's spray-fest at Lima can be found here, while Cycle News' own Larry Lawrence filed this brief race report in the wee hours of the morning today, and below you'll find AMA Pro Flat Track's official report on last night's event.
LIMA, Ohio (June 28, 2014) - In a wild and entertaining showdown between some of the most prominent names in the game, Jared Mees took home the Lima Half-Mile main event victory on Saturday night at the Allen County Fairgrounds in Lima, Ohio, aboard his Rogers Racing Harley-Davidson.
"I got a great start and it feels great to get this win," said Mees. "I saw several guys up top on every turn but I decided to stick with my plan and stay low. I got a little better each time I went out and I felt I was finally perfect once the main event came around. I knew I wasn't going to get tired and that I just needed to get through it. It's just so great to have such a strong team behind me, I couldn't have accomplished this without all of their hard work." It's safe to say Mees knows his way around the pea-gravel oval, as the 2012 Grand National Champion holds 2005 and 2007 main event victories at Lima.
Jammin' Jared Mees took the win last night at the Lima Half-Mile on his #9 Rogers Racing H-D XR750, the third win of his career at the Allen County Fairgrounds and the 13th overall for the 2012 AMA Grand National Champion. AMA Pro Flat Track photo by Dave Hoenig.
Though Mees won by an impressive 2.663 seconds, his victory wasn't as smooth-sailing as it appeared. In fact, there's a good chance that the Clio, Mich., product wouldn't have earned his 14th overall Grand National victory if it hadn't been for Sammy Halbert's extremely costly bike malfunction on lap 12. Halbert maintained a massive lead for the entire first half of the race before his South East Harley-Davidson blew up on the backstretch and started smoking, causing the Graham, Wash., native's night to be cut short and result in a lackluster 16th place finish.
After Halbert's mishap, it was Bryan Smith, aboard his Crosley Radio/Villa-Esparza Kawasaki who briefly took control of the lead. Between turns one and two on lap 15, however, Smith went too wide and coughed up the lead to Mees. The rest is history. Mees ripped the lead from Smith and never looked back, earning his first win of the 2014 season and catapulting himself to third in the overall Grand National Championship point standings.
Smith fell back to third place by the race's conclusion, as Brandon Robinson claimed the impressive runner-up finish aboard his USC Kawasaki after starting ninth on the grid to begin the main event. Kenny Coolbeth, aboard his Zanotti Racing Harley-Davidson and Jake Johnson, aboard his Ramspur Winery Ducati rounded out the top five, respectfully.
AMA Pro Singles
Kyle Johnson started from pole position and crossed the finish line first to take home the coveted AMA Pro Singles main event victory Saturday night aboard his Parkinson Brothers Racing Honda. Johnson, who also won last weekend's Knoxville Half-Mile, has caught fire as of late, as he claimed the Lima Half-Mile checkered flag by a whopping 5.439 seconds.
"It was a great race all around," said Johnson. "I got off to a great start and really got some great drives in there and was fortunately able to walk away with the win. We're on a roll right now and I hope we can keep it going to make up some ground and get up there close to the points lead." After back-to-back main event victories, Johnson has propelled himself to fourth in the AMA Pro Singles point standings in just his second season as a professional motorcycle racer.
Davis Fisher finished second aboard his TJ Burnett Farms Honda despite starting from sixth on the grid. Fisher was riding in fourth place for most of the main event but managed to turn on the jets on the race's final two laps to earn his second second-place finish of the 2014 season. Robert Descenna, aboard his Bob Weirbach Racing Honda closed out the podium with a solid third place finish while Brandon Wilhelm, aboard his Sylvester Farms Honda, and Dylan Morin, mounted on his Arai KTM, rounded out the top five finishers, respectfully.
The stars of AMA Pro Flat Track will head to Hagerstown, Md., for the Hagerstown Half-Mile at Hagerstown Speedway on July 5, 2014. Footage of the Lima Half-Mile will be available to view on AMA Pro Racing's YouTube portal at www.youtube.com/amaprovids in the coming days.
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