Wiles Victorious at Springfield Short Track

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2011 AMA Flat Track

The Flat Track Championship began with near-record temperatures and a few Illinois thunderstorms, but ended with an altogether different kind of bang as Monster Energy Kawasaki’s Henry Wiles claimed the top of the Springfield Short Track box for the fifth time in a row.

Henry Wiles (Kawasaki Flat Track) says: “It just means so much to me to win this tonight,” said Wiles after the race. “I got to take my grandma along with the checkered flag – she’s done so much for my career over the years, it was just so special.”

The 25-lap event – hosted by the Illinois Motorcycle Dealers Association at the Illinois State Fairgrounds – didn’t go Wiles’ way easily, however. The tight and tricky short track provided challenges aplenty for Wiles and the rest of the eighteen-rider field and required no fewer than five restarts as the pack tried to navigate the egg-shaped, high-speed oval.

After setting both the fast qualifying time and the fast heat time, Wiles got the holeshot in the majority of the starts, but rookie Jeff Carver (Van’s Yamaha/Stevens Racing Yamaha) grabbed the one that took. Wiles and defending Grand National Champion Jake Johnson (Zanotti Racing) jumped right on Carver’s rear wheel, waiting for the slightest mistake from last year’s Pro Singles champ.

Henry Wiles says: “I got the holeshot in most of the starts, but Jeff got out front the last time. He had some good lines and it was hard to pass, but I just had to get by. There was a Honda all over me and I saw a front wheel a couple of times, [so] I knew I had to go. He just slipped once and I got by, but I almost slipped up too [and was just] able to get back away.”

Carver’s one mistake proved costly as both Wiles and Johnson charged by. “We were all running about the same speed,” said Johnson, “but when Jeff slipped up and Henry got by, it opened a hole for me too. I almost got Henry too, but he was able get it back together and started pulling away. I heard Jeff closing late in the race, so I started to race for second.”

Carver’s strong run saw him pick up the point for most-laps-led in addition to his best AMA Pro Grand National finish, a third. Crossing the line just one second behind Carver was fellow rookie Brad Baker (Brothers Powersports/MRV/Schenk Racing). Carver’s impressive night included a win in the 4-lap Dash for Cash, which allowed him to pocket $1,000 and the five bonus points that went with it.

While the battle went to Wiles, the war fell to Woody Kyle Racing/Fredericktown Yamaha’s Sammy Halbert, who’s solid fifth-place finish from the second row and its 14 attendant points were enough to earn him the AMA Pro Racing Harley-Davidson Insurance Grand National Expert Singles Championship. “I was able to work up to fifth,” said Halbert, “and that gave me top-five finishes in all the Singles races. Along with three wins, it was enough to give me the title.” Johnson finished just five points back in the Expert Singles championship, 175 to Halbert’s 180.

Halbert’s lead in the overall combined championship increased to eight over Jared Mees (Lucas Oil/National Cycle/Rogers Lake Racing), who finished tenth on a rare off night. Johnson, just two points behind Mees, sits third.

The Motorcycle-Superstore.com Pro Singles class, meanwhile, clearly has a new rising star in 16-year-old Briar Bauman, who pushed his Rod Lake Racing/Brown’s Cycles-backed Honda into first position on Lap 5 of the 16-lap main. Bauman, who took victory by a margin of nearly two seconds, said, “I really wanted to win this for my dad. We’ve had a couple of rough weeks after our problem in Peoria, but people make mistakes and you just have to overcome them.”

Early leader Will Cato (Shoe Racing) held on for second, while Gerit Callies (Twenty Six Suspension/G2 Ergonomics) filled out the podium in third. Weirbach Racing’s Mikey Martin turned in a sixth-place finish good enough to hold on to the points lead, but with Callies just four points behind and Mikey Avila (SDI Insulation/M.E.H. Corp) seven down from Callies, Martin is far from safe.

The AMA Pro Harley-Davidson Insurance Flat Track Championship returns to the Illinois State Fairgrounds today for the legendary action of the Springfield Mile.

Opening ceremonies kick off at 1 p.m. local time; for information and tickets, visit illinoismda.com or call (217) 753-8866 or (888) 468-1622. To learn more and 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.