2011 Hagerstown Flat Track Preview

2011 AMA Flat Track

After a round spent on the rough-and-tumble limestone of Lima’s Half-Mile, the AMA Pro Harley-Davidson Insurance Flat Track Championship next turns to the smooth, fast, car-track half-mile in Hagerstown, Maryland, for a July 9 event.

The tenth round of the series’ 22-round calendar, the Hagerstown Speedway Half-Mile comprises the championship’s only 2011 appearance on the Atlantic Seaboard.

The "Hub City" classic treats the large crowds that pour into Hagerstown Speedway with racing as hot as the July weather. Kings Kustoms/Larry Zumbrun Racing’s Sammy Halbert solidified his overall Grand National Championship points lead with a victory at Lima, but the red clay of Hagerstown Speedway has traditionally been very good to Halbert’s main challengers: Jake Johnson, Jared Mees, and Kenny Coolbeth, all of whom have ties to the area.

Defending Grand National Champion Johnson (Zanotti Racing) currently sits 25 points behind Halbert, but he’s hoping to repeat his win from 2009. Johnson also counts four top-five finishes in his nine Hagerstown mains, and he’ll be particularly motivated to do well this July 9 weekend. Originally from New Jersey, this race is as close to home as it gets for Johnson.

Rogers Lake Racing/Blue Springs Harley-Davidson’s Jared Mees had his recent hot streak somewhat cooled with a fifth-place finish in Lima and is now 31 points back of Halbert. The trip east is a homecoming for the transplanted Pennsylvanian, and Mees — who’s been able to grab two thirds and five top-five finishes over the years at Hagerstown — has plenty of reason to think he can do well again this year.

Harley-Davidson Motor Company’s Kenny Coolbeth is 50 points out, but Hagerstown has been very good to the veteran. The former Grand National Champion has two wins (in 2007 and 2008) along with four seconds in his fourteen Hagerstown mains.

The young Halbert, meanwhile, has had his share of good results at Hagerstown too, having turned in solid finishes in all three of his mains with a second, third, and fifth. He’ll need another stellar result to keep his increasingly rabid challengers at bay, though, and the points-leader knows it.

Last year’s epic Hagerstown race went down to the wire, with Coolbeth and race-winner Joe Kopp battling right to the end, and while Kopp is not expected to contend the July 9 event, American Motorcycle Association/Dallas Fort Worth Honda’s Chris Carr will be attempting to qualify for his staggering twenty-fourth Hagerstown main as he continues his "Farewell Tour." Carr has posted three wins and nine podium finishes during his career at the fast half-mile.

While the venerable XR750 Harley-Davidson has been the big winner in all the Twins Nationals thus far, they have been joined on the track by Ducati, Kawasaki, Triumph, Suzuki, KTM, and BMW, making 2011 one of the most diverse seasons in championship history.

The Motorcycle-Superstore.com Pro Singles Championship points race likewise continues to sizzle between front-runners Mikey Avila, Gerit Callies, and Mikey Martin. SDI Insulation/M.E.H. Corp’s Avila and Weirbach Racing’s Martin both have some experience at Hagerstown, with Avila running fourth last year and Martin finishing twelfth, but only nine points separate Avila from Vortex Sprocket’s Gerit Callies. Martin is another 14 back in third, and each of the top three is more than ready for action to resume at Hagerstown.

For tickets to the July 9 Hagerstown Speedway event, visit hagerstownspeedway.com or call (301) 582-0640. To be a part of the AMA Pro Harley-Davidson Insurance Flat Track Championship, visit us at amaproracing.com/ft and join us on facebook.com/AMAProFlatTrackSeries and twitter.com/AMAProFlatTrack.