Harley-Davidson Screamin’ Eagle Factory Team rider Brad Baker scored his first AMA Pro Grand National Twins win of the season Saturday at the Ramspur Winery Calistoga Speedway half-mile.
Baker worked his way up from a second-row start to take the lead mid-race and cruise to a 1.634-second margin of victory.
“It has a taken us awhile to put all the pieces together, but we finally got it to click tonight,” said Baker, who is the defending AMA Grand National champion.
“It’s been an up-and-down season for both me and the team, but tonight we had a great Harley-Davidson for the main and it seemed like I was the first rider to discover that outside line. Once I got into the lead I was able to really settle into my own pace. It’s amazing to put the Factory Harley back on top of the box, especially after picking off some of the best riders out there.”
Harley-Davidson Wrecking Crew rider Jared Mees finished second on the Rogers Racing/Las Vegas H-D/Blue Springs H-D Harley-Davidson XR750 and reclaimed the series points lead. Mees was trailing Crosley Radios/Villa-Esparza Kawasaki rider Bryan Smith by nine points before the Calistoga race, but Smith was disqualified in the main for failing to acknowledge a black flag and leave the track when his motorcycle started to smoke.
Mees now leads Smith by 13 points lead with just one race left on the schedule.
“I feel bad for Bryan, who’s a good friend, but that’s racing, like they say,” said Mees. “I had a great start tonight but it seemed like I was the last of the leaders to find that fast line.”
Harley-Davidson Wrecking Crew rider Nichole Mees also made the main, and rode her Black Hills Harley Davidson XR750 to a 15th-place finish.
Zanotti Racing/Moroneys H-D rider Kenny Coolbeth Jr. put his Harley-Davidson XR750 on the pole for the main, but was forced to start his back-up motorcycle after crashing hard earlier in the evening during the Dash for Cash bonus sprint race. Mees took the lead on the first lap, with South East H-D/Whites H-D rider Sammy Halbert, Ramspur Winery/Lloyd Brothers Motorsports rider Jake Johnson, Baker and Coolbeth in close pursuit.
Johnson passed Mees for the lead on lap 10 as Baker moved up to second place. Baker then got by Johnson on lap 13 and opened a gap that would grow as the 25-lap race wound down. Smith’s motorcycle started to smoke on lap 11 as he was running in fifth place, and the Kawasaki rider ignored the official’s black flag and continued racing, eventually passing Mees and Johnson to cross the line in apparent second place. Smith was disqualified after the race and Mees was awarded second place, with Johnson third and Halbert fourth. Coolbeth was fifth.
Halbert won the four-lap Dash for Cash bonus sprint race.
Heading into the last race of the season, Mees has 260 points. Smith is second with 247 points. Johnson is third with 244 points, followed by Coolbeth with 208 points. Baker is fifth with 183 points.
The 2014 AMA Pro Grand National season comes to a close at the AMA Pro Flat Track Finals on Oct. 11 at the L.A. County Fairplex half-mile in Pomona, Calif.