2011 AMA Flat Track
Rogers Lake Racing / Blue Springs Harley-Davidson’s Jared Mees notched his fifth win of the 2011 AMA Pro Flat Track Harley-Davidson Insurance Grand National Championship presented by Motorcycle-Superstore.com season Saturday night in cool conditions at North Central Speedway in Brainerd, Minn.
Mees led the 25-lap National race wire-to-wire to win over Harley-Davidson Motor Company rider Kenny Coolbeth.
It was the first time that AMA Pro Flat Track has appeared at North Central Speedway, and the tight “D” shaped 3/8-mile oval proved to be a challenge on the fire-breathing twin-cylinder machines. Challenging or not, the racing action was fierce and exciting for the crowd that braved the cold fall temperatures.
Early in the race, it appeared Mees and Zanotti Racing / Schaeffer’s Harley-Davidson’s Jake Johnson would be repeating the Knoxville duel, but Coolbeth slipped between them on lap 14.
Jared Mees (Rogers Lake Racing/Blue Springs Harley-Davidson) says: “I knew I wasn’t the fastest rider out there tonight, I think Kenny was, but I just got a great start and kept hitting my marks. I could hear someone behind me the whole way, but we made small changes all day long and I think the track just came to me in the end.”
After battling with Johnson for a few laps, Coolbeth closed the gap on Mees to about half a second, but stalled out there.
Kenny Coolbeth (Harley-Davidson) “I think I was faster than Jared. I moved up from a bad start and was making passes pretty easy, but it took me too long to get by Jake, then I just seemed to lose my drive and couldn’t catch Jared.”
Johnson lost contact with the two leaders and settled into a solid third. American Motorcyclist Association / Classic Harley-Davidson’s Chris Carr moved from seventh to fourth as he worked his way through traffic.
Mees got the hole shot in the National, with Johnson, White’s Harley-Davidson / SNIP’s Matt Weidman and Fasthog.com / American Harley-Davidson’s Bryan Smith in tow.
Coolbeth and Carr got by Smith on lap four, with Coolbeth getting by Weidman three laps later. It took Carr until just passed the half way mark to get into fourth and let Smith and Weidman battle over fifth. Smith would come out on top there.
Making his first National appearance since breaking his hand at Peoria, A&J Racing / Southland Racing’s Jimmy Wood was an impressive seventh.
Jimmy Wood says: “After Peoria, they put 27 screws and two plates in my hand. I’m just lucky to be back, but I think this was my kind of track, had I been healthy. My bike was really working.”
Finishing a disappointing eighth was Kings Kustoms / White’s Harley-Davidson’s Sammy Halbert. A heat race crash had forced the former points leader to his back-up bike. After finishing his heat out of the transfer spots, he won the fastest semi of the night, but had to start on the third row in the main and eighth was as far as he could move up.
Kenny Coolbeth and Matt Weidman led Mees home in the Dash and that was a temporary help to Halbert, but with Mees and Johnson first and third in the National, Halbert has now slipped to third in the standings, 20 points down on Mees. Defending Grand National Champion Johnson moved into second, 18 points behind Mees with two races remaining on the schedule.
The Motorcycle-Superstore.com Pro Singles class belonged to Mikey Avila as he dominated on his Joe Bisha tuned SDI Insulation / MEH Corp backed Honda. Series Points leader Weirbach Racing’s Mikey Martin held second early, but ANT Racing / Star School’s James Rispoli was giving Martin fits as Avila pulled away.
Rispoli, the 2011 AMA Pro Motorcycle-Superstore.com SuperSport road racing National Champion, finally locked the second position down on lap six, but Avila proved to be uncatchable. Twenty Six Suspension’s Gerit Callies was able to grab the last podium spot from Martin on lap 14 of the 16 lap race.
With just two races remaining in the Motorcycle-Superstore.com Pro Singles Series Martin holds a 16 point advantage on Avila with Callies another four back in third. They are the only riders with a shot at the Pro Singles title.
Next up for the AMA Pro Flat Track Grand National Championship will be the high-speed half-mile of Calistoga Speedway in Calistoga, Calif. on Oct. 1.