Harley’s Coolbeth: 6th at Calistoga

2011 AMA Flat Track

Harley-Davidson Screamin’ Eagle Factory rider Kenny Coolbeth raced to a sixth-place finish in the AMA Pro Harley-Davidson Insurance Flat Track Championship event at Calistoga Speedway. Coolbeth placed second in his heat race and won the Dash for Cash bonus sprint.

The 25-lap main was won by Zanotti Racing/Schaeffer`s Harley-Davidson rider Jake Johnson, who took the series points lead with one race left on the 2011 schedule.

Coolbeth’s Harley-Davidson XR750 was one of the fastest motorcycles on the half-mile track during qualifying, and at the start of the main the Factory Harley rider joined a lead pack that also included Johnson, Rogers Lake/Blue Springs Harley-Davidson rider Jared Mees, Kings Kustom/White’s Harley-Davidson Sammy Halbert, and White’s Harley-Davidson rider Matt Weidman, who led the pack on the first lap.

Johnson took the lead on lap four, with Halbert and Coolbeth in close pursuit. As the leaders crossed the line following lap six, Mees crashed and the race was stopped by a red flag. His Harley-Davidson too damaged to continue, Mees was allowed to re-start the race from the back of the pack on a back-up motorcycle.

Johnson took the lead on the re-start and opened a gap on Halbert and Coolbeth that grew to almost two seconds. Coolbeth struggled with poor traction from mid-race on, and at one point almost lost control of his motorcycle before dropping back to sixth place. Johnson won with a 1.855-second lead over Halbert. Fasthog.com/American Harley-Davidson rider Bryan Smith was third, followed by Kawasaki rider Luke Gough, Brad Baker on the Lloyd Brothers Ducati, and Coolbeth.

Kenny Coolbeth (Harley-Davidson) says: "We had a really great bike early in the program, but decided to change the rear tire before the main, and that did not work out for us. I did not have good traction at the rear and was really struggling with the bike through the entire race."

Mees, who was leading the series in points before the Calistoga race, worked his way through the pack and passed Coolbeth on the last lap for an apparent six-place finish. He was disqualified after the race, when officials ruled that because the red-flag restart occurred after five race laps were complete, the rules did not permit Mees to re-enter the race with a back-up motorcycle. Mees was credited with completing five laps, and placed 19th.

His race position and a second-place finish the Dash for Cash earned Mees five points for the evening. Johnson, the defending Grand National champion, gained 27 points with the win and third place in the Dash, and took over the points lead. With one event left in the AMA Pro Harley-Davidson Insurance Flat Track Championship series, Johnson has 357 points. Mees is second with 353 points, followed by Halbert with 349 and Coolbeth with 298.

The final race on the AMA Grand National Twins schedule is Oct. 15 on the Los Angeles County Fairplex half-mile in Pomona, Calif.