2012 AMA Pro Harley-Davidson Insurance Grand National Championship
After a two week delay prompted by Hurricane Isaac, the AMA Pro Harley-Davidson Insurance Grand National Championship presented by Motorcycle-Superstore.com and Lucas Oil returns to the Illinois State Fairgrounds for the Illinois Motorcycle Dealers Association (IMDA) promoted Springfield ST and Mile doubleheader weekend.
The weekend consists of a short track at the Illinois State Fairgrounds’ multi-purpose arena for the 450cc single-cylinder bikes on Saturday, before moving to the Holy Grail of flat track racing on Sunday, the Springfield Mile. The mile features the big twin-cylinder (750cc / 1000cc) monsters and 100mph lap speeds.Last week’s Knoxville National shook the points race up as points leader Jared Mees (Rogers Racing / Blue Springs Harley-Davidson) suffered a rare mechanical problem forcing his Harley-Davidson XR750 to the sidelines. “It is what it is. Is shook up the points quite a bit more than I would of liked for sure,” said Mees. “We’re still in the lead, just not by as much.”Defending Grand National Champion Jake Johnson (Zanotti Racing) and Sammy Halbert (South East Harley-Davidson / Fredericktown Yamaha) have closed to within 11 points and are tied for second. Halbert has the tie breaker in hand now with three wins on the season.“Springfield is huge. We will go there with guns loaded,” said Halbert. “We will be ready to have some fun and go fast. The point race definitely tightened up. Now we have all had a DNF. That’s the way it goes. I look forward to finishing the year off strongly.”Yet to win a race in 2012, Johnson feels he is ready to make Springfield history. “Springfield Short Track is one that I’ve been looking forward to all year. I’ve won the TT, I’ve won the Mile and I’ve gotten second a bunch of times at the Short Track. I’d love to be able to win that event,” said Johnson. “With it being the last year, I’d love to be able to win all three of those. I don’t think anybody has won all three. Not just in one year, but since they have been having them. That’s been a big one on my list.”“It’s still going to be a fight until the end. It’s just going to come down to finishes now. I’m looking forward to it,” added Johnson. “We’ve hit the reset button and we’re close in points. Hopefully we can pull that off and have a good weekend at Springfield. If not, come out with some more good finishes. Hopefully no crashes, no breaks, just finish.”Crosley Radio / Howerton Motorsports’ Bryan Smith nearly won the Springfield Mile in May and has posted a win at the Sacramento Mile, now sitting fourth in points. “I’m pumped for Springfield,” said Smith. “The mile I’ll be back on the Kawasaki. I’m ready to get back to the mile and I’m excited to go to the Springfield short track. I’ve got a really good 450 for the short track. It will be a big weekend and I’m looking forward to it.”The Motorcycle-Superstore.com Pro Singles class will also be competing both days. While Saturday’s Short Track race is always competitive, the Mile on Sunday normally requires the holding of your breath for 12 laps as the 18 riders fight over one of the biggest wins of their young careers.Coming off a solid second place finish last week in Knoxville, current points leader Stephen Vanderkuur (Parkinson Brothers Racing) holds a seven point lead over Ryan Wells (5 Star Steel & Fabrication). Jake Shoemaker (Montgomeryville Cycle) and Jason Isennock (Highs Dairy) remain in the thick of the points race.Shoemaker is looking to repeat his win of last year’s Labor Day Mile, but there are truly so many riders in this class that have a chance of winning either or both days. After posting her second win of 2012 last week by repeating her historic win at the Knoxville Half Mile, Shayna Texter (DFW Honda / RLT Racing) is the crowd favorite wherever she goes, and many are predicting another win on Sunday.Tickets for this weekend are on sale now and can be ordered by calling 217-753-8866 or 888-468-1622. Tickets for the 2013 races can be ordered starting Jan. 2, 2013.