The 2015 AMA Pro Flat Track season began Thursday at Daytona International Speedway, and three-time AMA Grand National Champion Kenny Coolbeth Jr. took third in the Harley-Davidson GNC1 presented by Vance & Hines event.
He finished 0.314 of a second behind the only Suzuki rider in the field, Stevie Bonsey, and 0.191 of a second behind fellow Honda CRF450R pilot Jared Mees.
Coolbeth had won at the Daytona the past two season, and was hungry for another win. This arrived Friday during Round 2 of GNC1, which was sponsored by Bruce Rossmeyer’s Daytona Harley-Davidson, at DAYTONA Flat Track.
The Zanotti Racing Honda rider dominated, lapping several riders during the 25-lap event. The 38-year-old Coolbeth eventually finished 6.74 seconds ahead of TJ Burnett Farms Honda’s BRandon Robinson, and 6.660 seconds ahead of Fredericktown Yamaha’s Sammy Halbert.
Speaking after Daytona Flat Track II, Coolbeth said “Oh man, these guys – all these guys in red and black shirts are simply amazing,” said Coolbeth describing his Zanotti Racing team members. “This is truly an amazing feeling that I have right now and I can’t thank my team enough for helping me get to where I am today.”
Coolbeth started from second, but quickly got past Robinson on the second lap. From that point the Connecticut native was began pulling away from the field, having a two-second lead by lap five.
Robinson was able to hold of a charging Halbert for second, and his performance was impressive. Robinson finished fourth on Thursday.
The battle for fourth and fifth place was a tight one, as less than a half-second separated Henry Wiles, riding the No. 17 Zanotti Racing Honda, Briar Bauman on his No. 14 Hart Racing Honda and Jeffrey Carver Jr., mounted on his No. 23 Don’s Kawasaki. In the end, it was Wiles and Bauman who came through to earn fourth and fifth place, respectively. Carver settled for sixth, AMA Pro Racing reports.
As for the defending GNC1 Champion, Montgomeryville Cycle Center Honda’s Jared Mees finished 11th.
Coolbeth has the points lead with 41, six ahead of Robinson as the series heads to Springfield Mile I in Illinois March 24 for Round 3.
2015 Daytona Flat Track II GNC2 Recap
Just as Coolbeth dominated GNC1, RLJ Racing Honda’s Justin Jones dominated GNC2, taking the holeshot and leading all 16 laps. He would finish 2.695 seconds ahead of Parkingson Brothers Racing Honda’s Davis Fisher and 6.352 seconds ahead of Scott Powersports Yamaha’s Dalton Gauthier.
“I just focused on getting a good start and thankfully I was able to get a really good one,” said Jones. “I got the holeshot and I just tried to pick up smooth, consistent laps and that’s what I did. I’m speechless right now and I can’t thank everyone behind me enough.”
Just as Jones controlled first place, Fisher controlled second. He was never a threat to Jones, but crossed the finish line over three seconds ahead of Gauthier.
Last night’s GNC2 main event winner, Andrew Luker, followed up his Round 1 win with a fourth place Round 2 finish on Friday night aboard his No. 11Z Clayton Williams Racing Honda. Luker leads in points after two rounds by one over Jones, AMA Pro Racing reports.
After winning at Daytona a year ago, Brandon Wilhelm finished fifth to round out the top five while riding his No. 24J Wilhelm Racing Honda, AMA Pro Racing.
Harley-Davidson GNC1 presented by Vance & Hines Top 5
1. Kenny Coolbeth Jr. (Honda)
2. Brandon Robinson (Honda)
3. Sammy Halbert (Yamaha)
4. Henry Wiles (Honda)
5. Briar Bauman (Honda)
Harley-Davidson GNC1 presented by Vance & Hines Top 5 in points
1. Kenny Coolbeth Jr. 41
2. Brandon Robinson 35
3. Sammy Halbert 29
4. Jared Mees 27
5. Robert Pearson 26
GNC2 Top 5
1. Justin Jones (Honda)
2. Davis Fisher (Honda)
3. Dalton Gauthier (Yamaha)
4. Andrew Luker (Honda)
5. Brandon Wilhelm (Honda)
GNC2 Top 5 in points
1. Andrew Luker 39
2. Justin Jones 38
3. Dalton Gauthier 28
4. Davis Fisher 25
5. Brandon Wilhelm 24
The stars of the series will visit Springfield, Ill. for the first Springfield Mile scheduled for May 24, 2015. Fans can get their tickets at http://www.illinoismda.com/. The entire event can also be viewed LIVE at www.FansChoice.tv.