Defending series champion Steve Rapp (Suburban Motors H-D/Aerostar Global) put his 2014 season back on track by converting a record-setting qualifying performance into a dominant flag-to-flag race victory in the AMA Pro Vance & Hines Harley-Davidson series race Sunday at Barber Motorsports Park in Leeds, Ala.
Despite strong qualifying results in the previous two rounds of the series, a series of mechanicals and crashes had left Rapp far down in the series standings coming into the Barber round, but from the first session on track it was clear he was in a class of his own.
After qualifying on pole with a blistering 1:34.854 lap-record, Rapp was only briefly challenged at the start by Kyle Wyman (KWR/Millennium Technologies), who took the holeshot into turn one. By the third turn of the 2.38-mile track, Rapp was back in front and never looked back, taking the checkered flag with an 11.114-second margin.
“That’s my favorite [type of] race. I like riding out front by myself. I run like that in practice a lot so when I’m in the race I’m used to it. The bike was awesome. All the guys from Suburban Harley really are building the best bike out here, and I’m happy to ride it,” Rapp said.
As Rapp cruised to victory, a five-rider pack including Wyman, Danny Eslick (Ruthless Racing/Trev Deeley Motorcycles), Shane Narbonne (Six-Four Motorsports), Benny Carlson (Suburban Motors H-D) and series points leader Tyler O’Hara (Josh Chisum Racing/Bartels’ H-D) waged a thrilling handlebar to handlebar fight through around the twisty and technical track. Wyman exited the action with a dramatic high-side crash in turn two on lap five that left him tumbling through a gravel trap into the air fence, but he walked away unhurt.
The remaining four battled until the final lap, when Eslick opened a small gap to take second. Carlson timed an inside move in the final corner perfectly to take the third step of the podium, leaving O’Hara to settle for fourth with the consolation of clinging to points lead by a slim one-point margin over Eslick.
The fourth round in the AMA Pro Vance & Hines Harley Davidson series is July 12-13 at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca in Monterey, Calif.
Barber Motorsports Park Race Results:
1. Steve Rapp (Suburban Motors H-D/ Aerostar Global), 11 laps
2. Danny Eslick (Ruthless Racing/Trev Deeley Motorcycles), +11.114 seconds
3. Benjamin Carlson (Suburban Motors H-D), +11.805 seconds
4. Tyler O’Hara (Josh Chisum Racing/Bartels’ H-D), +12.426 seconds
5. Shane Narbonne (Six-Four Motorsports), +12.912 seconds
6. Gage McAllister (Folsom H-D), +24.168 seconds
7. Nicholas Hansen (Suburban Motors H-D), +24.171 seconds
8. Darren James (Trev Deeley Motorcycles), +26.738 seconds
9. Josh Chisum (Josh Chisum Racing/Bartels’ H-D), +37.434 seconds
10. Eric Stump (James Gang/Hoban Brothers Racing), +49.298 seconds
11. Joseph Rozynski (Sirius XM Radio/Sound Waves), +1:09.890
12. Max Flinders (None listed), +1:33.647
13. Sam Rozynski (Sound-Waves.com/Sirius XM Radio), 10 laps
14. Shelina Moreda (Chili Pepper Racing), +0.507 second
15. John Foy (Jupiter Cycle Racing/Heroic Racing), 7 laps
16. Kyle Wyman (KWR/Millennium Technologies), 5 laps
17. Ryan Kerr (Thunder Roads Magazine), 4 laps
18. David Estok (Arrow Aviation/Thrashed Bike Racing), 1 laps
19. Hayden Schultz (Chili Pepper Racing), DNF
AMA Pro Vance & Hines Harley-Davidson Series Points:
1. O’Hara, 66
2. Eslick, 65
3. Carlson, 60
4. McAllister, 56
5. Hansen, 47
6. Stump, 40
7. Rapp, 32
8. K. Wyman, 30
9. Schultz, 28
10. Chisum, 28