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Nov 19, 2001

Graves Wins Six, Mistakes White Flag For Checkered in Seventh Race At Willow Springs

Copyright 2001, Roadracing World Publishing, Inc.<BR><BR>By David Swarts<BR><BR>Graves Motorsports Yamaha's Chuck Graves had a nearly perfect weekend during round 11 of the 12-round WSMC series, at Willow Springs International Raceway Sunday, November 18. Graves won six of the seven races he entered and took the WSMC Overall Championship points lead from Marina Yamaha's Bryan Kovarick.<BR><BR>Graves won in 600cc Superstock, 600cc Modified Production, 650cc Superbike, Formula Two, Open Superstock and Open Superbike on his Tony Romo-tuned, Dunlop-equipped YZF-R6, YZF-R1 and YZF-R7/R1 hybrid. But Graves gave away a certain win in the Toyota Cup Unlimited Formula One Grand Prix race when he mistook the white flag for the checkered flag and pulled into the pits a lap early.<BR><BR>Graves had a 10-second lead over Jeremy Toye, who had a large lead of his own over third place, when he mistook the white flag for the checkered flag. With waves to the fans and wheelies, Graves slowed on the last lap, then pulled onto hot pit lane just shy of the checkered flag.<BR><BR>Graves said after the race the race that he saw people on pit lane frantically making gestures for him to continue. Graves said he then looked over to see Toye passing him at full speed on the front straightaway to take the win, the $1000 cash purse and another $1000 in Yamaha contingency money. Graves continued on down pit lane past the start/finish line and was credited with second place, just beating Jason Curtis to the line. The win gave Toye a 14-point lead in the WSMC Formula One Class Championship going into the final round in December, where only 15 points are available.<BR><BR>Graves later said that he thought he saw the starter standing at the edge of the track rolling up the white flag on what turned out to be lap 10 of 12. On lap 11, Graves said that he was behind a lapper and thought that the starter was waving the white flag for the lapped rider.<BR><BR>Aside from giving away his Formula One race win, Graves' toughest battle of the day came in Open Superstock versus Roadracingworld.com's Chris Ulrich. Graves was riding a Superstock-spec Yamaha YZF-R1 on DOT-labeled Dunlops. Ulrich was riding his Suzuki Cup Championship-winning GSX-R1000 at Willow Springs for the first time, and it was also Ulrich's first time on Michelin tires in years. Ulrich caught Graves from the last row of the grid and was challenging until Graves got past four lapped riders entering turn five and Ulrich didn't, and Graves won.<BR><BR>Ulrich won the Open Modified Production race.<BR><BR>In addition to winning the Formula One race on his Lee's Cycle-sponsored YZF-R1, Toye also won in 750cc Superbike, 750cc Modified Production and took four second-place finishes behind Graves on the day. Toye's 750cc-class wins came on his first race day on a Suzuki GSX-R750 that had been a streetbike the week before.<BR><BR>The final WSMC race of 2001 will be held December 15-16.