Round four of the AMA Pro Flat Track Grand National Singles Championship came to the fabled Peoria Motorcycle Club’s Race Park in Peoria, Ill., for the 61st running of the Peoria TT.
AMA Pro Grand National Singles points leader Henry Wiles (No. 17 Jones Brothers / DPC Racing Kawasaki) has missed a large portion of the season because of off-track injuries, but has won the last four Grand Nationals at Peoria and was ready for a big return to action Sunday.
"I went to the doctor last week and he said my wrists were about 85 percent. I said ‘That should be enough let’s go racing,’" Wiles said. "I looked at that jump when I first got here and I don’t remember it being that big. My wrists really hurt, not so much on the landing, but there was just a lot of pain."
However, most of the pain was inflicted on the other riders, as the Michigan rider once again dominated the 25-lap National. JR Schnabel (No. 33 Memphis Shades / Parts Unlimited Yamaha) grabbed the hole shot and led into Turn 1, but his lead was short lived as Wiles shot between Schnabel and fast qualifier Joe Kopp (No. 3 Lanpheres Beaverton Renton Honda) to take the lead out of Turn 2.
The first lap found Kopp in second with Mick Kirkness (No, 87 Yeager Cycles / Dave Burks Motorsports Suzuki) right on his heels. A major slip by Kopp dropped him to sixth as Schnabel, Kirkness, Shaun Russell (No. 28 Fox Valley Cycles / Rogers Lake Racing Honda) and defending GNC Singles Champion Jake Johnson (No. 1 SuperTrapp / F&S / Saddlemen Honda) were all able to get by.
As Wiles pulled away, Schnabel and Kirkness went to war. Kopp worked his way back up and challenged Russell for fourth, exchanging the position several times before Russell took over for good on Lap 15.
The Schnabel/Kirkness battle allowed Russell to close in, and as Kirkness looked for a way around Schnabel, Russell slipped by on Lap 22 and nailed down his first podium finish of the season.
Kirkness, who hails from Australia, held on for a close fourth-place finish. Kopp dropped four seconds back of that battle and three seconds ahead of Chris Carr (No. 4 Chris Carr Racing / Dallas Fort Worth Honda), the riders taking fifth and sixth, respectively.
Sammy Halbert (No. 43 Woody Kyle Racing / Fredericktown Yamaha) made a late-race pass on Johnson for seventh. Bryan Smith (No. 42 Bill Werner Racing Kawasaki) and Brandan Bergen (No. 26 National Cycle / Reiman’s H-D Honda) rounded out the top ten.
Wiles points lead stands at 14 markers with only the Springfield Short Track, scheduled for September 5, remaining on the schedule.
Round 10 of the Pro Singles Championship was also included in the day’s action and JD Beach (No. 95C Red Bull / Team 95 / America Honda) led the race wire to wire.
Beach’s win didn’t come easy as Jeff Carver (No. 24P Vans / Stevens Racing Yamaha) was all over the multi-discipline racer. Carver was able to get by Beach on several occasions throughout the race, but Beach always regained the lead by the line. The final margin of victory was just 0.181 of a second.
Pro Singles points leader Brad Baker (No. 17M Mike Velasco / Brothers Motorsports Honda) was a solid third, maintaining a five-point lead in the championship hunt over James Rispoli (No. 71B Weirbach Racing Suzuki), who finished fifth behind Kurtis Lee (No. 78J Mom & Dad / George Woods Honda).