2011 AMA Pro Flat Track
The thousands of flat track fans who filled the Illinois State Fairgrounds grandstands for Sunday night’s AMA Pro Harley-Davidson Insurance Round 16 were treated to one of the most thrilling sights in motorsports: a Mile specialist at work on the kind of circuit that made flat track famous.
The top ten riders were blanketed by a single second when the checkered flag flew, but it was Harley-Davidson of Wausau/Independence Harley-Davidson’s Willie McCoy (#59), who bested Chris Carr and a tightly packed field of hard-charging riders to claim an emotion career-first Grand National victory.
Willie McCoy (Harley-Davidson Flat Track) says: “I can’t believe this. I’ve wanted to win this race my whole life. I even knew exactly what I would say afterward, but I don’t remember a thing now. I just wish my wife and daughters could have been here, but I know they’re celebrating at home.”
McCoy, who earned his first Grand National start in 1989 and has since become a “Mile Specialist,” joining the series for just a few select events each year, added, “I always knew I could win this – I’ve come close so many times. People were always telling me ‘This is your day,’ but something always happened [in the past].”
The heart-stopping action of the twenty-five-lap main was red-flagged on Lap 21 due to two unrelated crashes on opposite ends of the track, Bryan Smith going down in Turn 3, Rob Pearson hitting the ground in Turn 1. Though neither rider was seriously injured, the chance of a win was finished for both.
The ten-rider freight train tore through the remaining laps, McCoy crossing the line just .012 of a second ahead of American Motorcyclist Association/Classic Harley-Davidson’s Carr. Defending AMA Pro Grand National Champion Jake Johnson (Zanotti Racing/Schaeffer’s Harley-Davidson) filled out the podium in third.
Chris Carr (Harley-Davidson Flat Track) says: “I’m really happy for Willie. No one has worked longer or harder. I rode the best race I could and came home second. I can’t ask more than that.”
Kenny Coolbeth (Harley-Davidson Motor Company), Jared Mees (Rogers Lake Racing/Blue Springs Harley-Davidson), Johnny Lewis (Scott Powersports), Sammy Halbert (Kings Kustoms/White’s Harley-Davidson), Brad Baker (Lloyd Brothers Motorsports/Team Hurt by Accident), Matt Weidman (White’s Harley-Davidson/Snip) and Nichole Cheza (Global Products/Harley-Davidson) were all in the lead pack, slamming across the finish line within a second of McCoy.
Halbert still leads in points for the overall 2011 AMA Pro Racing Harley-Davidson Insurance Flat Track Championship, Mees just five points back and Johnson trailing five behind Mees. With four races remaining in the 2011 season, the trio’s battle for the combined crown is coming down to the wire.
As close as Springfield’s Expert main finish was, the Motorcycle-Superstore.com Pro Singles main event was, if anything, even closer. All eighteen riders were under the proverbial blanket until a last-lap crash in Turn 3 somewhat scattered the field, leaving Jake Shoemaker to capture his first Pro Singles main win in an exciting scramble to the finish.
The top three riders hit the finish line together – the winner a mystery to race spectators — with Shoemaker’s win margin just .002 seconds over Zakk Palmer and .010 seconds over Briar Bauman. It was so close, in fact, that Bauman momentarily thought he had the victory.
Jake Shoemaker says: “This was my first ride on this Honda. Bob [Weirbach] called last week and asked if I wanted to ride it. I can’t believe it all worked out like this.”
Palmer (Western Hills Honda), Bauman (Rod Lake Racing/Brown’s Cycles), Shayna Texter (RLT Racing/Lancaster Harley-Davidson) and Jake Cunningham (Arai Helmets/Certainteed Products filled out the top five positions.
The Motorcycle-Superstore.com Pro Singles points leaders suffered through a rough day, with points leader Mikey Martin (Weirbach Racing) coming home seventh while his main rivals, Gerit Callies and Mikey Avila, were both on the ground before the day was over. Callies had his Honda fail on the front straight, resulting in a crash that collected Chaz Springsteen (neither Callies nor Springsteen were able to make the 32-rider field out of qualifying). Avila fared a little better until the last lap of the main, when he was collected in a three-rider crash that left him credited with seventeenth. Martin’s lead has grown to 17 over Callies, with Avila another five points back.
The series next heads to Knoxville, Iowa, for the Knoxville Raceway half-mile, Round 17 on the AMA Pro Harley-Davidson Insurance Flat Track Championship.
For tickets and information, visit knoxvilleraceway.com or call 641-842-5431. 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.