2011 AMA Pro Flat Track
When the AMA Pro Harley-Davidson Insurance Flat Track Championship returned to Castle Rock for Saturday night’s TT, it was Graham, Washington’s very own Sammy Halbert (Woody Kyle Racing/Fredericktown Yamaha) who showed the field how it’s done, leading every lap of the race on the way to a decisive victory in front of hometown friends and family.
Montgomeryville Cycle Center/Lucas Oil’s Jared Mees tried valiantly to dislodge Halbert but came up short at the line, while another local favorite, Brad Baker (Major League Moto/R3 Moto), showed his skills on familiar dirt to take third.
Sammy Halbert says: “I knew if I kept getting good starts and kept my focus, I could win this tonight. This is just great – I won my first national here, and this is my fourth win this year, [which is] more than I had in my whole career starting the year.”
Halbert wasn’t phased by either of the race’s two re-starts, the first coming after the ultra-tight field bunched at the initial jump, the resulting melee collecting Chris Carr, Johnny Lewis, and Bryan Smith.
All riders were present for the second go, with Halbert, Mees, and Monster Energy’s Henry Wiles repeating their solid starts to take over the top three positions. As the race approached the halfway mark, however, Chad Chose fell on the back section of the track, causing the second red to fly.
After a short delay, Cose was able to rejoin the field for a 13-lap race to the finish. Any advantage gained during the first twelve laps was now lost, but Halbert remained unbreakable, Mees unable to find a way past him.
Wiles, however, had his hands full with Baker, who ramped up the pressure on the Kawasaki rider until he was able to take third from Wiles just six laps from the end. The Rookie of the Year candidate was also closing on Mees when the laps ran out, but he was happy to claim his second podium-finish of the year in front of local fans.
Wiles crossed the line well ahead of a great battle for fifth between Joe Kopp (Latus Harley-Davidson), Jake Johnson (Zanotti Racing), and Kenny Coolbeth (Chaplin Kawasaki). The semi-retired Kopp was able to hold off defending Grand National Champion Johnson and Coolbeth to take the fifth-place spot in his first appearance in the series since the championship’s opening Daytona round.
American Motorcyclist Association/Dallas-Fort Worth Honda’s Chris Carr finished just a click back in eighth after working his way past another local rider, Innovative Suspension’s Scooter Vernon, who’d run as high as fourth early in the race before slipping to ninth. Matt Reecy Racing’s Rob Pearson rounded out the top ten.
Halbert’s night was near perfect – he won the national, lead the most laps, and claimed the Dash for Cash – and the new points tally proves it: Halbert’s lead over Mees has extended to ten, with Johnson another ten back in third. While Halbert has led the points race all year, however, the eight races remaining mean the overall championship is still up for grabs.
The Motorcycle-Superstore.com Pro Singles main was also dominated by a single rider, in this case Full Throttle/Sioux Falls Truck & Trailer’s Gerit Callies. Like Halbert, Callies was forced to be flawless, as he had Rod Lake Racing/Brown’s Cycle’s Briar Bauman glued to his rear wheel throughout the contest. Bauman, in only his second Pro Singles race, finished just .146 of a second behind Callies, while series points leader Mikey Martin finished more than six seconds back in third.
Martin’s points lead is down to twelve over Callies, with Mike Avila — who finished ninth after a heat race fall hurt his chances for the night — another ten back in third. The Motorcycle-Superstore.com Pro Singles points race has become a three-rider battle, the rest of the field forced to watch Martin, Callies, and Avilia duke it out at the top of the standings.
The AMA Pro Harley-Davidson Insurance Flat Track Championship next heads for Illinois’ August 21 Peoria TT. For tickets and information, visit peoriatt.net or call (309) 697-4981 or (309) 635-1662.
To be a part of the AMA Pro Harley-Davidson Insurance Flat Track Championship, visit amaproracing.com and join us on facebook.com/AMAProFlatTrackSeries and twitter.com/AMAProFlatTrack.