Jarod Vanderkooi burst onto the scene in AMA Pro Flat Track in the 2014 season while riding in the former Pro Singles class, winning two points-paying races (Grey's Harbor, Indy) and completely dominating in both runs of the no points-paying Pro Twins races at both Springfield Miles. By the end of the season, he had amassed not only those wins, but four other top-5 and three more top-10 finishes to end the season in the 4th-place spot in the AMA Pro Pro Singles Championship while riding his family-owned and prepped Honda's.
Fast forward one year and the rookie sensation from Ohio was inked alongside Jeffrey Carver, Jr. to ride on the newly revamped Don's Kawasaki team in the newly renamed AMA Pro Flat Track Grand National Championship Harley-Davidson GNC1 presented by Vance & Hines class. And Vanderkooi accepted the challenge and has had a strong season running against the best of the best in The Rolling Thunder Show.
Although missing two rounds due to not being able to qualify (SF Mile I, Lima), Vanderkooi still has amassed enough points to sit in the 11th-place spot in the championship heading into the final season round in Las Vegas in just shy of three weeks. With two top-5 finishes (Charlotte, Delaware) and two more top-10s to his credit (DuQuoin, SF Mile II), Jarod was able to total enough points ahead of fellow rookie contender Dominic Collindres to garner the nod for the 1st year Expert/GNC1 riders this season.
In the shot above, Vanderkooi works his magic on the #17F Don's Kawasaki/DPC Racing/Floyd Tapp-sponsored Kawasaki EX650 during the second qualifying session at the Lima Half-Mile held at the Allen County Fairgrounds on June 28.
Vanderkooi will be officially announced as the new Rookie of the Year at the season-ending banquet in Las Vegas, and will add his name to a long list of greats to garner that special award like Matt Weidman, Jake Johnson, and Jake Shoemaker, among others. He will receive a special $5K check from Saddlemen for his accomplishments that will help to line his and his team's pockets for their hard-earned efforts for this year's outstanding season.
Check out the full release below thanks to AMA Pro Flat Track, and be sure to put the final round of the season on your calendar for the Flat Track Finals at the Orleans Arena in Las Vegas on Friday, November 20.
Jarod Vanderkooi locks up 2015 Saddlemen Rookie of the Year Award
DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (Oct. 26, 2015) - Jarod Vanderkooi etched his name in AMA Pro Flat Track history by earning the 2015 Saddlemen Rookie of the Year Award after putting together a stellar season competing in the elite Harley-Davidson GNC1 presented by Vance & Hines class.
The $5,000 Saddlemen Rookie of the Year Award is given to the rookie rider who earns the most points in Harley-Davidson GNC1 presented by Vance & Hines competition throughout the course of each season, and Vanderkooi will officially receive the award at the 2015 AMA Pro Flat Track Awards Banquet scheduled for Sunday, Nov. 22 at the Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas. In previous seasons, Brad Baker, Briar Bauman and several other AMA Pro Flat Track riders have earned the prestigious Saddlemen Rookie of the Year Award.
"It means a lot to win the Saddlemen Rookie of the Year Award," said Vanderkooi. "Our goal coming into this season was to finish inside the top ten in as many races as possible and to win this award. To have it wrapped up before the season ended is really cool and it definitely means a lot to me and my team."
Of the 12 main events so far this season, Vanderkooi has qualified for 10 of them, and his 37-point lead over second-best rookie rider Dominic Colindres is insurmountable to overcome with only one round left in the season.
Jarod Vanderkooi is shown on the #17F Don's Kawasaki during action at the Springfield Mile II on September 6. The Ohio resident was announced this week as the 2015 AMA Pro Flat Track Saddlemen Rookie of the Year. AMA Pro Flat Track photo by Brian J. Nelson.
Vanderkooi got his first taste of Harley-Davidson GNC1 presented by Vance & Hines competition at the Daytona doubleheader back in March when he finished 14th and 16th to start the season, and after failing to qualify for two of the following three main events at Springfield and Lima, it appeared he was going through some of the common growing pains that most rookie riders struggle with during their first seasons at the highest level of competition.
However, Vanderkooi's "growing pains" didn't last long, as he has qualified for every main event since those two early mishaps and the 17-year-old rookie is looking more and more like a seasoned veteran each time he takes to the track.
As good as the Mt. Gilead, Ohio native has been this year, he has been nothing short of amazing over the course of the last three rounds. Many people would argue that he is tenfold the rider now than he was seven months ago when he suited up for Daytona, and his two top 5's at Charlotte and Delmar are evidence that he is getting acclimated to Harley-Davidson GNC1 presented by Vance & Hines competition quite nicely.
"My team and I are just learning the bikes a lot more after each round that passes," said Vanderkooi. "Earlier in the year, we didn't know the best setup for our gearing and suspension, but now that we have figured out what works best, I am doing better in the races. We've really gotten it down the past few rounds, I think that is the biggest reason for my success. The biggest difference I'd say between GNC2 and GNC1 is that the GNC1 guys really get off the line quickly. As soon as the lights go green, everybody is going all out. I love it up here and I'm excited to see what the future holds."
Vanderkooi will be gunning for his third top-five performance next month when the stars of the sport gather in Las Vegas for the Flat Track Finale at the Orleans Arena on Nov. 20. Also, since he won the 2015 Saddlemen Rookie of the Year Award, Vanderkooi has been added to the roster for the inaugural running of the Superprestigio of the Americas.
The Superprestigio of the Americas will bring together leading motorcycle racers from various motorcycle-racing disciplines from around the world to compete head to head with the stars of AMA Pro Flat Track on a specially-designed indoor short track at the Orleans Hotel & Casino in Las Vegas on Nov. 21, 2015. For tickets and information, please visit http://www.superprestigio.com.
About AMA Pro Flat Track:
AMA Pro Flat Track is the world's premier dirt track motorcycle racing series and one of the longest-running championships in the history of motorsports. Sanctioned by AMA Pro Racing in Daytona Beach, Fla., the series is highly regarded as the most competitive form of dirt track motorcycle racing on the globe. For more information on AMA Pro Flat Track, please visit www.amaproracing.com/ft/, follow us on Twitter, like us on Facebook or live stream the on-track action on FansChoice.tv.
About AMA Pro Racing:
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.
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