**SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (September 6, 2009) **- Despite all of the problems that Mother Nature threw at the AMA Pro Flat Track Grand National Championship this weekend, the Illinois Motorcycle Dealers Association, the Illinois State Fairgrounds crew and AMA Pro Racing staff were able to salvage Sunday's Springfield Mile race. Saturday's steady rain, which forced the Short Track to be postponed, had turned the large mile oval into a muddy mess.
The gumbo soil that makes the Springfield Mile so great does not take well to rain, and such conditions normally make for a sketchy race surface. It was well into the afternoon before the track was declared ready and the shortened program was implemented. Two Practice / Qualifying sessions would trim the 61 rider field down to 48 and then six riders would advance from the three heats into the National.
The most loyal fans in motorsports.
All day, the fabled fairgrounds was under the threat of rain and as the Rolling Thunder Show rolled to the line, real thunder and lighting flashed just off of Turn 1 Latus Harley-Davidson / Screamin' Eagles' No. 3 Joe Kopp led the 19 rider field into the first turn with Halbert Family / King Kustoms' No. 43 Sammy Halbert, Blue Springs Screamin' Eagle Harley-Davidson / Rogers Lake Racing's Jared Mees and SuperTrapp / F&S; Harley-Davidson's No. 14 Jake Johnson.
Eager to regain his points lead from the injured defending Champion Harley-Davidson Motor Company's No. 1 Kenny Coolbeth, Mees had the lead at the end of Lap 1 and would hold it until Lap 11. Screamin' Eagle Harley-Davidson / Moroney's No. 42 Bryan Smith took over the lead for a lap, taking full advantage of his provisional start. Smithdropped out of his heat race earlier in the day after leading several laps.
It would be the only lap Smith would lead, however, as Jake Johnson took over on his Harley-Davidson. Officially, Johnson would lead the rest of the race, but that was only at the all important finish line. Johnson was under constant pressure from Halbert, and the Harley-Davidson Wrecking Crew of Smith, Mees and Kopp.
Slowly it turned into a two rider race as Johnson and Mees put a short distance on Smith and Halbert. On the last lap Mees led off Turn 4 but Johnson drafted by for the win by just over a bike length. Halbert also made a last lap pass of Smith for the last podium spot.
Kopp was a lonely fifth with Rogers Lake Racing's No. 28 Shaun Russell cruising home 10 seconds back. Part-time racer Harley-Davidson of Wausau's No. 59 Willie McCoy edged out National Cycle / Reiman's Harley-Davidson's Brandan Bergen, while Team Movin' Mike / TNT Harley-Davidson's No. 22P Kevin Vance posted his best Grand National finish with a ninth, almost four seconds ahead of Chris Carr Racing / Lancaster Harley-Davidson's Chris Carr.
Johnson's win gives him the "Dirt Track Slam" of a Short Track, TT, Half Mile and now Mile victory.
After the National, as darkness flooded the race track, the all important Dash came to the line. Jared Mees was poised to use the six rider race to a great advantage, but he failed to finish the first lap of the four lap race and earned no points. Mechanical problems also sidelined Memphis Shades No. 33 JR Schnabel after one lap. Halbert, Kopp and KK Motorcycle Supply / Mike Adkins' No. 17 Henry Wiles battled to the end, with Halbert pulling off the win by inches over Kopp.
It was certainly a disappointing day for three-time defending Grand National Champion No. 1 Kenny Coolbeth. After suffering a shoulder injury during a mid-week practice, Coolbeth could not get up to speed on the demanding oval and could only muster the 52nd best time during the two qualifying sessions.
The plan was to run the Pro Singles Class after the Grand National, but darkness put an end to the day and the Pro Singles Series event was forced to be canceled. The Grand National Championship will be back in action on Monday as the rescheduled Short Track National will be run on Labor Day.
Illinois State Fairgrounds
AMA Pro Flat Track Grand National Twins Championship: (19 riders / 25 laps) 1. Jake Johnson (H-D); 2. Jared Mees (H-D); 3. Sammy Halbert (H-D); 4. Bryan Smith (H-D); 5. Joe Kopp (H-D); 6. Shaun Russell (H-D); 7. Willie McCoy (H-D); 8. Brandan Bergen (H-D); 9. Kevin Vance (H-D); 10. Chris Carr (H-D); 11. Bryan Bigelow (H-D); 12. Matt Weidman (H-D); 13. Nichole Cheza (H-D); 14. Steve Murray (H-D); 15. Don Taylor (H-D); 16. Cory Texter (H-D); 17. Henry Wiles (H-D); 18. JR Schnabel (H-D); 19. Ronnie Jones (H-D). Time: 15:05.324
Henry Wiles and Brad Baker Win It All
This is what the track crew had to work with Monday morning.
**SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (September 8, 2009) **- It took two days, but the AMA Pro Grand National Singles Championship concluded on Labor Day with a thrilling 25 lap dogfight. Yeoman work by the Illinois Motorcycle Dealers Association, Illinois State Fairgrounds equipment operators and AMA Pro Racing staff got the saturated bull ring short track ready after rain forced the race, which was originally scheduled to be run on Saturday, to be postponed.
The view the riders had of Wiles.
Entering the last race, only Kawasaki USA / Jones Brothers Racing / DPC Racing's No. 17 Henry Wiles and Memphis Shades / Parts Unlimited's No. 33 JR Schnabel had mathematical chances to win the points race, and Wiles immediately flexed his muscles by setting the fast time in qualifying and winning the first heat.
The win gave #17 Henry Wiles his first National Championship.
Schnabel struggled to a fourth-place finish in a talent laden third heat, leaving him out of the all-important Dash and a chance for five bonus points. Unfortunately for Schnabel, Wiles was up to the task, winning the four-lap race in well under one minute. Fast qualifier Lanpheres Beaverton Renton Honda / Pro Honda Oils' No. 3 Joe Kopp finished second over No. 4 Chris Carr Racing / Dallas Fort Worth Honda's Chris Carr. The win pushed his points lead to 19 as the 25 lap National came to the line.
Kopp got the hole shot in the main with Wiles, Delano Sports Center's No. 29 Jake Mataya and Mack Daddy Racing's No. 20 Matt Weidman right behind.
The former Grand National Champion looked to have things under control, as Wiles seemed content with shadowing the Honda pilot. Pro Honda Oils / Rogers Lake Racing's No. 21 Jared Mees worked his way into third by Lap 3 and immediately began to pester Wiles.
Half way through the race, Mees stuck up on both Wiles and Kopp.
The race started to look more like the Springfield Mile than the Springfield Short Track as the lead trio started to trade positions. Kopp would maintain the lead at the line, but Wiles and Mees were closing fast with Yeager Cycles / Dave Burks Motorsports' No. 87 Mick Kirkness sneaking into the fray.
Lap 11 saw Mees in second and pressuring for the lead, but Wiles was back on Lap 15 and shot into the lead on Lap 20. Wiles started pulling away as Kopp added a small cushion over Mees. The win gave Wiles the AMA Pro Grand National Expert Singles Championship.
Mees had his hands full as the Australian champion was making a fierce charge trying for his first GNC podium finish. Woody Kyle Racing / Fredericktown Yamaha's No. 43 Sammy Halbert made a late-race pass for fifth over Weidman. Defending Singles Champion, No. 1 Jake Johnson worked his SuperTrapp / F&S; / Saddlemen backed Honda from the back to a seventh-place finish. Carr, Schnabel and Mataya rounded out the top ten.
Surprisingly, earlier in the program the Pro Singles Championship was decided with one race left on their schedule. Mike Velasco / Brothers Powersports' No. 17M Brad Baker started the day with a ten point lead over Weirbach Racing / Barnett's No. 71B James Rispoli.
24p Jeff Carver and #71b just did not have enough for Baker.
When the twelve lap main got under way, it was Championship contenders Rispoli, Baker and Van's Yamaha / Stevens Racing's No. 24P Jeff Carver running up front.
17m riding like a champion.
Rispoli was able to control the race for nine laps, but Baker slipped by on Lap 10. Rispoli quickly responded, but slipped wide and Baker drove right back into the lead. The championship was decided in Turn 4 of the last lap, when Rispoli tried to get inside of Baker off Turn 4, only to get into the leader's rear wheel, slamming the challenger to the ground and giving the race win and AMA Pro Grand National Pro Singles Championship to Baker. Left with now where to go, Carver was gathered up in the incident as well.
Just like Henry Wiles, Baker won the race and the Championship.
Southland Racing / O'Neal's No. 42E Kayl Kolkman snaked his way through the carnage for second. RLJ Racing / Sunnyside Cycle's No. 82B won a drag race off Turn 4 over Mom & Dad / Greenland & Son Masonary's Mike Poe for the last podium spot. RESULTS
Illinois State Fairgrounds
AMA Pro Racing Pro Singles Championship: (18 riders / 12 laps) 1. Brad Baker (Hon); 2. Kayl Kolkman (Hon); 3. Jeremy Higgins (Hon); 4. Mike Poe (Kaw); 5. Jake Shoemaker (Suz); 6. Stephen Vanderkuur (Hon); 7. Kenny Malaguarnero (Hon); 8. Zach Palmer (Hon); 9. Cory Strickler (Yam); 10. Andrew Smith (Hon); 11. Joe Parks (Hon); 12. Adam Cobb (Yam); 13. Lucas Scherb (Hsq); 14. Shayna Texter (Suz); 15. John Long (Suz); 16. James Rispoli (Suz); 17. Jeff Carver (Yam); 18. Kurtis Lee (Hon). Time: 2:44.763
AMA Pro Racing Grand National Singles Championship: (18 riders / 25 laps) 1. Henry Wiles (Kaw); 2. Joe Kopp (Hon); 3. Jared Mees (Hon); 4. Mick Kirkness (Suz); 5. Sammy Halbert (Yam); 6. Matt Weidman (Hon); 7. Jake Johnson (Hon); 8. Chris Carr (Hon); 9. JR Schnabel (Yam); 10. Jake Mataya (Kaw); 11. Don Taylor (Hon); 12. AJ Eslick (Suz); 13. Stevie Bonsey (Hon); 14. Brandan Bergen (Hon); 15. Chad Cose (Hon); 16. Aaron King (KTM); 17. Mike Radley (Hon); 18. Brady Mueller (Hon).
AMA Pro Racing is the premier professional motorcycle racing organization in North America, operating a full schedule of events and championships for a variety of motorcycle disciplines. From its Daytona Beach headquarters, the organization operates and manages AMA Pro Road Racing, which includes AMA Pro American Superbike, AMA Pro Daytona SportBike, AMA Pro SuperSport and AMA Pro SunTrust Moto-GT. AMA Pro Racing also manages and works closely with the day-to-day operational organizations of the AMA Pro Flat Track Championship and the AMA Pro Supermoto Championship Series in addition to other two-wheel and ATV series. Learn more about AMA Pro Racing at
[www.amaproracing.com](http://rs6.net/tn.jsp?et=1102699026155&s=2399&e=0018k5RpGwVKviJWkkHwOrR UTXa0Anlz9IDRWFfpMLHiewXx3qbq2yjlbW2W5EhgPgBDD8zDL3LKKHV7gGSjoKo1jOudvCE xkUDunX9ctMM22VfZCqYKLfReQ==)
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