Bryan Smith overcame four staggered restarts and a last-second effort by a surging Kenny Coolbeth to earn the coveted AMA Pro Flat Track Springfield Mile victory at the Illinois State Fairgrounds on Sunday, May 25.
Smith beat Coolbeth to the stripe by a mere .041 seconds to claim his fourth win at the legendary venue, and with the win, he now sits fifth in the overall point standings.
“I couldn’t ask for a better day,” said Smith following his victory. “It’s been one heck of an effort by my team getting this motorcycle ready for this race and I can’t thank them enough. There are a lot of the same features on my bike this year but it’s also very different than last year’s at the same time. I’m very excited about this win and I’m excited for what the future holds for the rest of the season.”
After dominating his heat, the Dash for Cash, and even setting a new track record along the way, the No. 42 Villa-Esparza/Crosley Radio Kawasaki mounted Smith looked as if he’d be well on his way to destroying the competition after getting out to a fast start in the main event.
This wasn’t the case at all, as Smith found himself in an old fashioned dogfight with several riders throughout the course of the race and was never really able to break away from the pack.
Kenny Coolbeth was Smith’s biggest threat of the main event aboard his powerful No. 2 Zanotti Racing Harley-Davidson. Coolbeth is off to an exceptional start to the 2014 season, having won at Daytona and scoring a second place finish today at Springfield, the Morris, Conn., native sits atop the overall point standings after three rounds.
Jared Mees, the 2012 Grand National Champion, harassed Smith all day. Mees, mounted on his No. 9 Rogers Racing Harley-Davidson gave himself plenty of excellent opportunities to take the lead from Smith but was never able to find the edge, as he closed out the podium with a respectable third place finish.
Jake Johnson, the 2010 and 2011 Grand National Champion, earned an impressive fourth place finish aboard his Ramspur Winery Ducati to add a third different brand of motorcycle into the mix, while defending Grand National Champion Brad Baker landed his No. 1 Factory Harley-Davidson in the fifth spot to round out the top five.
AMA Pro Twins
In his first professional race, Jarod Vanderkooi broke onto the AMA Pro Flat Track scene on Sunday as he routed the competition aboard his 17F Johnny Vintage Motorcycle Kawasaki. Vanderkooi’s 6.656-second win over second place finisher Davis Fisher was an exceptional way to start his 2014 season.
“I just knew I had to get a really good start and get out front early,” said Vanderkooi. “Once I was able to get out front, I just kind of put it on cruise control. I wouldn’t have had this bike ready without my team. We worked on it every night trying to get it ready for this race and all the hard work paid off.”
Vanderkooi proved Sunday he is going to be a name in the AMA Pro Flat Track ranks for years to come and his first ever professional victory couldn’t have come at a better venue – the Springfield Mile.
Though a second place finish is always somewhat bittersweet, Fisher’s runner-up effort aboard his 67M TJ Burnett Farms Kawasaki had to feel good. Like Vanderkooi, it was Fisher’s first career AMA Pro Twins race, and the Warren, Ore., product didn’t disappoint as he edged out third place finisher Jamison Minor by less than a second.
Minor closed out the podium aboard his 27U Roy Miller Kawasaki. DAYTONA Flat Track Round 2 winner Brandon Wilhelm earned a fourth place finish on Sunday aboard his 24J Sylvester Farms Harley-Davidson and Mikeal Strable rounded out the top five aboard his 25L Inlakes Sports Center Kawasaki.
The stars of AMA Pro Flat Track will head to Knoxville, Iowa for the Knoxville Half Mile at Knoxville Raceway on June 15, 2014.