Monday, August 11, 2014

Reviewing Kenny Coolbeth's Romp at Round 11 of the 2014 AMA Pro Flat Grand National Championship at the Legendary Indy Mile

Round 11 of the 2014 AMA Pro Flat Track Grand National Championship at the legendary Indy Mile came in with a roar and went out with a big bang when Kenny Coolbeth, Jr. on the #2 Zanotti Racing/Moroney's H-D/Burt Ives Honda-sponsored Harley-Davidson XR750 grabbed the lead from early-leader Jake Johnson on lap 4 and turned the 25-lap National main into a King of Cool benefit race, leading the final 22 laps and putting his name on the trophy for the second time in the last five events held at the Indiana State Fairgrounds.

Coolbeth, on his Dave Atherton-tuned mount was 2nd fast qualifier behind Bryan Smith's #42 Villa-Esparza/Crosley Radio/Howerton Products-backed Kawasaki rocket after also setting second fast time in early practice, and along with Smith and current points leader Jared Mees won the his heat to set fast time for the pole of the main.

After winning the 2009 event in the race's second return to the facility alongside the Red Bull Indianapolis MotoGP weekend while still riding for the Harley-Davidson Motor Company, Coolbeth hadn't won a mile National since the Minnesota race late in the 2011 season, although he had scored several wins on half-mile tracks and taken one of the short track race wins at Daytona early in the season to kick-off his new affiliation with the San Jose, CA. based Zanotti Racing team.

Fighting with the lead pack early in the running, Johnson had held the point until Coolbeth figured out a line to get his way to the front, and from the fourth lap on it was all done. Although his margin of victory was just over 2.4 seconds and as much as just over 2.7 seconds at one point, there was no touching the 3-Time AMA Grand National Twins and 2007 AMA Grand National Championship Singles Champ from that point on as he sailed to a convincing victory in front of the crowded and enthusiastic house alongside the Indiana State Fair.

Smiles were abundant on the victory podium at Indy, with Coolbeth enjoying his big moment alongside the AMA Pro Flat Track trophy queens and 2nd-place finisher Bryan Smith and 3rd-place finisher Jared Mees, after winning his 32nd AMA Grand National Championship main event. Holding the beautiful trophy from the resurrected Indy event that next year will bear his name twice, Coolbeth and Smith discuss their race while Mees looks on. Coolbeth was also able to break the Kawasaki win streak on the mile tracks dating back to Mees' win at Colonial Downs last August, which was the last XR win on The Rolling Thunder Show's big tracks, and the first XR win without the engine fuel restrictors in place.

Zanotti Racing team owner told us the day after Kenny's big win after we congratulated him and the team on their stellar evening, that it 'was all Kenny on this one. He worked those first few laps finding his line and letting the bike and track come to him, saving an eighth of a second here, and there in the corners, allowing him to build a lead where he was able to throttle back on the straights and save the motor. We were never in fear of losing the motor and he did a remarkable job of making his time up in the corners. With the new rules sans restrictors, we've never had to worry about them winding too tight with Kenny's throttle control and cornering tactics.'

Heat race #3 sees the front row blast off the line heading towards turn one. Brad Baker on the #1 Harley-Davidson Motor Co/Screamin' Eagle Racing Parts/Dunlop-sponsored XR750, Mees on the #9 Rogers Racing/Las Vegas H-D/Blue Springs H-D-backed XR, local boy Dan Ingram on the #31 Three Bears Racing/IBC Books/Zanna-Chisum Racing-sponsored XR getting some serious air time, Nichole Mees on her #15 Black Hills Harley-Davidson/Harley-Davidson Motor Co/Cheza Racing-sponsored XR, Mikey Martin on the #91 Bonneville Performance/Triumph Factory Racing/Castrol Oils-sponsored Triumph Bonneville and Dustin Crow on the #61 Greg Crow Racing/Gardner Racing/Harley-Davidson of Salina-backed XR lead the charge.

Mees went on to take the win ahead of Baker and Martin for the direct transfers to the main, while Nichole Mees and the rest were headed to the semi. Nichole went on to take her semi win over Cory Texter and Jeffrey Carver, Jr. for their back row start in the 18-rider National, where she eventually finished in the 16th-place spot. The crowd went crazy when she took the checkers and while she was on the victory podium after her semi race 1 win.

Clermont, Indiana resident Ingram looked to be catching the lead draft in heat 3 after having to make up for his slow, airborne start, and was trying to catch those just ahead to move into one of the direct top-4 transfers to the main when he lost a chain going into turn one and went down, banging up his knee and tearing the exhaust off his Dan Laxen/Ted Weirbach-tuned bike. He made the start for the semi but unfortunately never got near the lead draft and went home empty at his home race, much to the dismay of many on-hand fans of 49 year old Dapper Dan. Speaking with him on Saturday evening at Mid-America Speedway, where he had originally scheduled to race the Bultaco race, Ingram stated he was probably looking at having the knee scoped this week by a local Indy doctor.

Henry Wiles turned in another impressive performance in just the third mile event of the season on the #17 Don's Kawasaki/DPC Racing/EA Racing-backed Kawasaki EX650. After leading a lap at the Sacto Mile two weeks earlier, Wiles has what was reported as an electrical problem that put him out early in the event, but he was able to equal his early-season 6th-place finish at the Springfield Mile I round in his maiden voyage on the new Kawi at Indy last Friday night. With two mile events left to go this season (the Colonial Downs round on Saturday, August 23 and the Springfield Mile II event at the end of August) the Hammer could very well be headed to the podium on is new mile rocket.

Stevie Bonsey on the #80 Zanotti Racing/Classic Harley-Davidson/Top 1 Oils-sponsored Harley-Davidson XR750 and factory Harley rider and defending AMA Grand National Champion Brad Baker on the #1 mount head out for the first round of practice at Indy. Bonsey had a strong evening running in the top-10 all night after qualifying in the 11th-place spot and a 3rd-place finish in heat #2 behind Coolbeth and Brandon Robinson. He ended the night in the 7th-placed spot on his Steve Polk-tuned Zanotti mount.

Baker was riding his factory XR750 after the motor had  reportedly been sent to Vance & Hines, after what had been less than stellar results early in the season. The change obviously worked as the defending champ qualified 3rd overall and was within just over .3 seconds of heat 3 winner Mees to take the direct transfers to the main and a shot at the Dash for Cash. The Bullet took a 4th-place finish in the Dash and a 5th-place finish in the National main to leave Indy with some solid results for the day and moving into the 6th-place spot in the point standings.

(From the top) Baker on the #1 XR750, Jake Johnson on the #5 Rampur Winery/Lloyd Brothers Motorsports/Parkinson Brothers-sponsored Ducati 996, Brandon Robinson on the #44 USC Kawasaki/Hart Racing/Hot Shot-backed Kawasaki EX650, Jared Mees on the #9 Rogers XR, Smith on the #42 Villa-Esparza Kawi and Coolbeth on the #2 Zanotti Racing XR blast off in the 4-lap Dash for Cash event at Indy.

Johnson immediately took the lead over Coolbeth and Smith and was never headed to take the win and break the win streak of Dash wins by Smith at Indy from the last two races held at the Indiana State Fairgrounds. Johnson appeared on the edge throughout the four lap race, as he did during the National main, hitting the outside edge of loose dirt coming out of turns 2 and 4 and had the crowd on their feet with his masterful control of the big Duc.

Morton, Illinois resident Rob Pearson and the #27 Weirbach Racing/KDM Forest Products/Spectro Oils-sponsored Kawasaki EX650-based mount are finally starting to all come together in just their seventh event together this season on his freshly-built Iowa-based mount. After the problems the team went through together last season, the Ottumwa team went to work on building two strong horses for Pearson, one a 700cc machine for the half-miles and one a 750cc machine for the miles.

Pearson used the 700-version (with a slimmer, narrower tank making it easier for the uninitiated to be able to tell the difference between the two slick looking bikes) to take the win in semi #2 at Indy, wowing the crowd on hand who are familiar with his never-say-die racing ability. He finished the night in the 10th-place spot and moved into the 11th-place spot in the standings. Team co-owner Ted Weirbach told us on Friday that this has been a great, almost stress-free season for them and they are further along with the development on the new bikes than what they were expecting, and things as a result are starting to fall together for the team and they are having fun as a result. After selling off their Suzuki SV650 mount over the off-season to Wyatt Maguire, they are also leaving their Harley parked at home where it looks 'awfully good and isn't costing us an arm and a leg' to keep racing with it.

Jake Shoemaker is the consummate privateer and showed up at Indy with his single #55 Montgomeryville Cycle Center/Greg Vietri/Penske Suspension-sponsored Kawasaki EX650 and qualified a very respectable 16th overall out of the 38 riders who took a timed lap. Although a 5th-place finish in heat 1 sent him to the semi, he came back strong to nab a 2nd-place finish in semi 2 behind Pearson to send him to the National main, where he rode a solid race to finish in the 9th-place spot, only just over 10 seconds back from winner Coolbeth. The 2013 AMA Pro Flat Track Saddlemen Rookie of the Year could definitely use some more backing and he would be a sponsors dream with his professional set-up, great attitude, excellent bike control and lay out at the track.

2012 AMA Pro Flat Track Saddlemen Rookie of the Year Briar Bauman took the #14 Monster Energy Kawasaki/Werner-Springsteen Racing/Wossner Pistons-sponsored EX650 to a solid 8th-place finish after a race long battle with Shoemaker, Bonsey and Pearson. It was his best Twins Series finish of the season and left him some breathing room in the 10th-place spot in the standings.

Indy Mile Grand Marshal and 2013 MotoGP World Champion Marc Marquez was all smiles during the pre-race on-track ceremonies where he was driven onto the track after a late departure from the first day of practice at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

After the usual announcing and revelry, Marquez was introduced to the beautiful Honda RS750 that had been specially prepared for him by M3 Racing's Mark McGrew (far right side of shot holding Marquez' helmet) and the smiles went ear-to-ear. Although he declined to take a lap or two on the elegant and pristine RS, the champ and our AMA Grand National Champ Brad Baker talked about their race in Spain early in the year at the Superprestigio and their chances to repeat come the end of the season in round two in Spain.

Jake Johnson on the #5 Ramspur Winery/Lloyd Brothers Motorsports/Parkinson Bros Ducati has been in the hunt all year, but just shy of getting that elusive win that he hasn't been able to bag since with the Zanotti Racing team.

But you can tell that the 2-Time Grand National Champ is back to having fun, as his smile and outlook at the track is back to where he was when he was winning championships and races, and he is now all-but-one with either the Ducati, the team's newly-built Kawasaki or their XR750. And as always, Mr. Consistent lets all of his talking be done on the track as the laid back and friendly guy usually comes off as just another guy having fun at the races-which he obviously is

Tuner Brent Armbruster has all of the right things in place on all of the team's machines, and other than 2011 AMA Pro Flat Track Rookie of the Year Jeffrey Carver, Jr. has ridden more makes of hot rods this season than anyone else in the series, let alone the championship hunt. And along the way has gotten seven top-5s and four podiums in the eleven races run this season so far.

With his commanding Dash win, and a super strong 4th-place finish at Indy last Friday night, Jersey Jake is only eight points out of the lead draft for the championship title with five races left in the season (Mees leads with 182, Smith one point back and Jake lying in third with 174 points) heading into the Peoria TT this Sunday and the Colonial Downs Virginia Mega Mile on Saturday, August 23. Although Mees and Smith are making all the noise out front, Johnson is slowly AND surely hanging in there and keeping it real. And just like his first two Grand National Championship runs in 2010 and 2011, he's sitting ready to pounce like a cat watching a bird and looking to those just in front of him.

You can find a few links below to help tell the rest of the story from round 11 of the 2014 AMA Pro Flat Track Grand National Championship at the Indy Mile, but in closing I want to take the time to give a big thanks and round of applause to Leah Burdette and the Family Events folks, who did another superb job of promoting this year's Indy Mile and making it a wonderful day in the process. You guys rock and I can't wait until next year to do it again!

You can check out Cycle's page-to-page coverage of the great racing at Indy right here thanks to my long time bud, Larry Lawrence.

Complete results from round 11 of the 2014 AMA Pro Flat Track Grand National Championship at the Indy Mile can be found here.

Official AMA Pro Flat Track photographer Dave Hoenig filed these shots from the Indy Mile.

Coolbeth runs away with AMA Pro Flat Track Indy Mile victory

INDIANAPOLIS (Aug. 8, 2014) - Kenny Coolbeth, ripped the lead from Jake Johnson on lap four of Friday night's Indy Mile at the Indiana State Fairgrounds and went on to win his 32nd AMA Pro Flat Track Grand National Championship main event aboard his Zanotti Racing Harley-Davidson. Coolbeth's 2.470-second win margin turned heads, to say the least, as he was able to outgun the usual Kawasaki frontrunners, specifically Bryan Smith, to earn his third win of the season.

Kenny Coolbeth, Jr. on the #2 Zanotti Racing XR750 took the lead on lap 4 of the 25-lap National main at the Indy Mile and never looked back, cruising to a 2.470 second victory. AMA Pro Flat Track photo by Dave Hoenig.

"This is great for us," said Coolbeth. "I feel so comfortable with my bike and my team right now. They are putting so much effort into my program every single day and it feels so good for it to pay off here tonight. Smith has the whole package, there is no denying that, but tonight we had it."
Coolbeth started on the pole but got off to a mediocre start, falling all the way back to fourth after the completion of lap one. On the second lap, however, Coolbeth found his groove and the No. 2 slot. On lap four, Coolbeth was able to get an angle on his rival, Johnson, and gain the lead for his first and final time of the night. Once in front, Coolbeth was able to check out and create enough space to ride smoothly to victory.
As easy as Coolbeth's victory looked, the battle for the next four slots was a tight one. In the end, it was Smith, aboard his Villa-Esparza/Crosley Radio Kawasaki who earned second place. To everyone's surprise, Smith was riding as far back as sixth at one point. It wasn't until lap 16 when he appeared to turn on the jets, as he passed Jared Mees to take over the second spot. Smith would go on to forfeit his position to Mees on the last lap only to retake it from him down the final frontstretch. Mees' third place finish aboard his Rogers Racing Harley-Davidson was his ninth top five finish out of the 10 AMA Pro Flat Track rounds, and his consistency has him atop the overall point standings heading in to the latter half of 2014. Jake Johnson, aboard his Ramspur Winery Ducati, and Brad Baker, aboard his Factory Harley-Davidson, rounded out the top five, respectfully. 
AMA Pro Flat Track Pro Singles
Jarod Vanderkooi ended a demanding span of three race dates in seven days in the best way possible. The pilot of the 17F Johnny's Vintage Motorcycle Honda won the famed Indy Mile, using a last-lap draft pass to get by runner-up Kyle Johnson in a finish that was so close, the timing screens showed it as a dead heat.

It's the third win of the season for Vanderkooi, and his second in Pro Singles competition - his other was on a twin at the Springfield Mile. After so much time on the road, the event also served as a homecoming for the Mt. Gilead, Ohio, rider. On Aug. 2, AMA Pro Flat Track held the Castle Rock TT, then went to Black Hills Speedway in South Dakota for an event that was washed out by Mother Nature on Aug. 5, before ending the trek in Indianapolis.  "All my friends and family are here, I'm about three hours from home," Vanderkooi said. "Everybody came out, my uncles, aunts, everybody. And it's the legendary Indy Mile, it's awesome. It was a long time on the road, about 7,000 miles. It's all worth it now."
Johnson, on his 77J Parkinson Brothers Honda, led coming off the final corner, but that's just how Vanderkooi wanted it.  "I wanted to go into Turn 3 in second place and hopefully draft by him on the way," Vanderkooi said. "I went on the low side of him, got the draft, and he kind of cut down to try to break the draft."Johnson was able to hold off a similar move just weeks ago at the Sacramento Mile, where he took the checkered flag, but he still wasn't comfortable leading off Turn 4. "We didn't want to lead off of 4," Johnson said. "Vanderkooi was smart, he didn't draft me on the backstretch. He played a smart race. ... He was able to draft me in the frontstrech and barely take that win."

Johnson retook the points lead (146-142) over Davis Fisher, who went down on the final lap on his 67M T.J. Burnett Farms Honda. "We're four points in the lead now, hopefully we can get a couple more wins this season and come away with this points championship," Johnson said. Nick Armstrong rounded out the podium on his No. 44E Southland Racing Honda. It's his second top three finish in the last three events, and it was special because of the lure of the race. "Especially here at Indy, this was a big race, this is awesome," Armstrong said.

Ryan Foster on the No. 23Y Bob Weirbach Race Team Honda, and Jeffery Lowery on his 23F Englehart Racing Honda finished fourth and fifth, respectively.
AMA Pro Flat Track Expert Twins Top 10 finishers
1. Kenny Coolbeth (Harley-Davidson)
2. Bryan Smith (Kawasaki)
3. Jared Meed (Harley-Davidson)
4. Jake Johnson (Ducati)
5. Brad Baker (Harley-Davidson)
6. Henry Wiles (Kawasaki)
7. Stevie Bonsey (Harley-Davidson)
8. Briar Bauman (Kawasaki)
9. Jake Shoemaker (Kawasaki)
10. Robert Pearson (Kawasaki)
Expert Twins top 10 in points
1. Jared Mees 182
2. Bryan Smith 181
3. Jake Johnson 174
4. Kenny Coolbeth 157
5. Sammy Halbert 138
6. Brad Baker 118
7. Brandon Robinson 117
8. Henry Wiles 115
9. Stevie Bonsey 105
10. Briar Bauman 82
AMA Pro Flat Track Pro Singles Top 10 finishers
1. Jarod Vanderkooi (Honda)
2. Kyle Johnson (Honda)
3. Nick Armstrong (Honda)
4. Ryan Foster (Honda)
5. Jeffery Lowery (Honda)
6. Don Bromley (KTM)
7. Brandon Wilhelm (Honda)
8. Nick McFadden (Honda)
9. Bronson Bauman (Honda)
10. Jace Castles (Yamaha)
Pro Singles top 10 in points
1. Kyle Johnson 146
2. Davis Fisher 142
3. Ryan Wells 121
4. Jarod Vanderkooi 100
5. Bronson Bauman 100
6. Brandon Wilhelm 99
7. Dan Bromley 98
8. Dylan Morin 70
9. Dominic Colindres 69
10. Kolby Carlile 52
Next Up 
The stars of AMA Pro Flat Track will head to Peoria, Ill. for the Peoria TT at Peoria Race Park on August 17, 2014. Footage of the Indy Mile is available to view on AMA Pro Racing's YouTube portal at
How to Watch: will be the official home for live streaming coverage of AMA Pro Flat Track and AMA Pro Road Racing events in 2014. 
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
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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