AMA Flat Track
Monster Energy Kawasaki’s Henry Wiles came off the injured list to continue his winning ways at the historic Peoria Motorcycle Club Grounds, dominating the Peoria TT – Round 14 of the AMA Pro Harley-Davidson Insurance Flat Track Championship – to claim the seventh consecutive victory of his career at the popular TT track. The win didn’t come as easily as some of his past versions, however, as Jared Mees (Lucas Oils/National Cycle/Rogers Lake Racing) forced Wiles to earn every inch of his advantage.
Henry Wiles (Kawasaki) says: “That was the hardest race I’ve ever had here. It was like a twenty-five-lap wrestling match. When I was rehabbing from my knee surgery, the hope was just to be able to ride here. I just rode as hard as I could, and it was good enough for the win.”
Wiles spent those twenty-five-laps working to hold off Mees’ unrelenting charge, but by the finish Wiles had eked out a 1.560-second margin of victory. Series points-leader Sammy Halbert (Woody Kyle Racing/Fredericktown Yamaha) was a lonely third more than five seconds back, but Halbert at least managed to build a safe cushion of four seconds between himself and defending AMA Pro Grand National Champion Jake Johnson (Zanotti Racing).
Jared Mees says: “Henry just has this place wired. He rode great. Last year we were second to Henry by 11.5 seconds and this year it’s 1.5 seconds, so we’re getting closer.”
While Henry kicked off the race with a holeshot, there was plenty of action farther back in the running order, as Halbert and Mees exchanged second on Lap 4 and the battle for fifth was fierce. Rob Pearson (Matt Reecy Racing), Bryan Smith (fasthog.com), Johnny Lewis (Scott’s Powersports), Matt Weidman (Snip/Shoei), Chris Carr (AMA/DFW Honda), and Kenny Coolbeth (Chaplin Kawasaki) all fought tooth-and-nail for the position, Pearson regaining it late in the race.
Making the best of his final race at the challenging TT venue, the “Prince of Peoria,” Chris Carr, slipped around Pearson briefly, but the local rider quickly charged back to hold Carr to a sixth-place finish. Weidman, Smith, Coolbeth, and Lewis filled out the top ten.
In the overall points standings, Mees coupled his second-place finish with a victory in the Dash for Cash to close to within just three points of Halbert. Their tallies currently stand at 268 to 265.
The Motorcycle-Superstore.com Pro Singles class had its twist and turns — and heartbreak — as young Briar Bauman triumphed over a mechanical, a back-row start in the Last Chance race, and a last-row start in the main to claim his first win in the Pro Singles class, only to have to relinquish it moments later when his fuel was found to be out of compliance.
Dan Johnsen (AMA Pro Flat Track Director) says: “It’s the kind of news AMA Pro tech officials really hate to deliver, especially when we know it was inadvertent on the part of the rider and team in question. We’re obviously duty-bound to follow our own rules, though, so all we can do is wish Briar and his supporters much future success – he certainly showed he’s capable of it tonight.”
Following Bauman’s disqualification, runner-up Mike Avila and the rest of the field advanced one position in the results. While Avila took the points for a win, second went to Gerit Callies (Twenty Six Suspension/G2 Ergonomics), with Mack Daddy Racing’s Stephen Vanderkuur, TNT Harley-Davidson’s Andrew Smith, and points-leader Mikey Martin (Weirbach Racing) filling out the top five.
Despite Avila’s five wins, he remains third in points behind Martin and Callies. The championship race between these three has narrowed to a fifteen-point spread.
The AMA Pro Harley-Davidson Insurance Flat Track Championship next heads to Springfield’s Illinois State Fairgrounds for the Springfield TT on September 3, followed by the Springfield Mile II on September 4.
Rounds 15 and 16 on the schedule add up to the best way for any flat track fan to spend the Labor Day weekend; for Springfield tickets and information, visit illinoismda.com or call (217) 753-8866 or (888) 468-1622.
To be a part of the AMA Pro Harley-Davidson Insurance Flat Track Championship, please visit amaproracing.com.