Irvine, Calif. - Monster Energy Kawasaki/ Werner Springsteen Racing and Bryan Smith made history on Sunday when the Kawasaki Ninja® 650R claimed its first-ever AMA Pro Grand National Twins Championship podium with Smith's second-place finish in Springfield, Ill. On Saturday, Monster Energy Kawasaki/ Jones Racing rider Henry Wiles rode his Kawasaki KX™450F to the top of the podium in the AMA Pro Grand National Singles Championship race at the historic Springfield TT.
History In The Making
The Monster Energy Kawasaki/ Werner Springsteen Racing team made history on Sunday with an excellent showing from Smith as he made a hard charge for the front early in the race and then held off constant pressure from behind before finishing second at the Springfield Mile.
"In practice we weren't really there yet with our speed," said Smith. "I was really confident because I had won the race before. I ended up winning my heat race and from then on I knew we had a chance to win the race. In the main, I was taking a line that was a little high, but it was working really well. I was right on the leader, but ended up slipping one lap and fell back a bit. From there, I just had to hold off third and fourth. It was a great race."
With the Kawasaki making up ground in a class that has long been dominated by other manufacturers, Smith was welcomed by a great crowd of new fans after the race.
"Obviously, the flat track crowd has been primarily Harley (Davidson) for a long time," said Smith. "I would have to say that about 15-20 people stopped by after the race telling me how excited they were to see a Kawasaki out there racing at the front. It really makes you proud to be a part of the brand."
Proving Ground for No. 1
Reigning singles champion Wiles has been close to his first season win, but it came during the third round at the historic Springfield TT. His first win was a dominant one, finishing over five seconds in front of second place.
"I came into the race knowing I could do well," said Wiles. "I knew the Kawasaki would be strong, I just had to do the rest. The day didn't start out the best with a sixth qualifying spot, but I ended up winning my heat. I was second for the first 10 laps and then I was able to make a pretty effortless pass. After that I was just flowing and able to pull a good gap."
With the No. 1 target on his back, Wiles showed the competition that he is fighting to keep the title plate on his Kawasaki. After his dominating win, Wiles moved into a tie for first place in the point standings and looks to keep moving forward.
"Everyone hears the expression about having a target on your back when you win a championship," said Wiles. "I ended up putting a picture of a target on my back. I don't necessarily feel pressure from my competition. Instead I put all the pressure on myself to do well. I want to do well for my team because they have put me in the position to win."
AMA Flat Track Series
Springfield, Ill. - Illinois State Fairgrounds
May 29-30, 2010
1. HENRY WILES, KAWASAKI
2. Joe Kopp, Honda
3. Jares Mess, Honda
4. Shaun Russell, Honda
5. BRYAN SMITH, KAWASAKI
6. Jake Johnson, Honda
7. Kenny Coolbeth Jr., Honda
8. Johnny Lewis, Honda
9. Michael Kirkness, Suzuki
10. JESSE JANISCH, KAWASAKI
1. Jake Johnson, Harley Davidson
2. BRYAN SMITH, KAWASAKI
3. Kenny Coolbeth Jr., Harley Davidson
4. Jares Mess, Harley Davidson
5. Joe Kopp, Ducati
6. PJ Jacobsen, Harley Davidson
7. Sammy Halbert, Harley Davidson
8. Chris Carr, Harley Davidson
9. Larry Pegram, Ducati
10. Steven Bonsey, Harley Davidson