Oct 3, 2011
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Champagne flies during the podium celebration at Calistoga.
Jake Johnson Captures AMA Pro Harley-Davidson Insurance Grand National Championship Points Lead with Win at Calistoga
Rookie Briar Bauman Claims Second Career Victory in Thrilling Motorcycle-Superstore.com Pro Singles Final
CALISTOGA, Ca. - Defending Grand National Champion Jake Johnson captured the AMA Pro Flat Track Harley-Davidson Insurance Grand National Championship presented by Motorcycle-Superstore.com points lead with a win Saturday night at Calistoga Speedway, located in the picturesque wine country of Calistoga, Ca. Johnson deftly piloted his Zanotti's Racing Harley-Davidson, leading 22 laps of the 25 lap main event and crossing the stripe 1.855 seconds before Kings Kustoms / White's Harley-Davidson's Sammy Halbert.
Event promoter Bob Bellino brought the series back to Calistoga following a successful event in 2010, and the stars of the AMA Pro Grand National Championship put on another breathtaking show for the near-capacity crowd. Halbert got the hole shot and led the 19-rider field into the first turn, where White's Harley-Davidson / SNIP backed Matt Weidman slipped by and proceeded to lead the first lap, followed by Halbert in second and the Harley-Davidson Motor Company's Kenny Coolbeth a close third.
Johnson took the point on lap four with Halbert, Coolbeth, Jared Mees and Weidman hot on his heels. Just as Johnson started to open up a gap, the red lights brought the racing action to a halt, as Mees had crashed his Rogers Lake / Blue Springs Harley-Davidson backed XR-750 in turn three. At the time of the red flag, the leader and several other riders had completed their sixth lap, meaning that, per the rule book, scoring would revert to the running order of lap five, the last officially completed lap, in order to accurately regrid the riders.
The on-track incident was quickly resolved and following the restart, Johnson, Halbert and Coolbeth picked up where they left off, with Digger 57 / Dick Ford's Luke Gough, fasthog.com / American Harley-Davidson's Bryan Smith, and Matt Weidman battling for fourth. Coolbeth then briefly lost control of the back end giving up his position in third as Smith and Gough worked their way to the front.
The large crowd watched in amazement as Mees, who started from the back of the field on the restart using his backup bike, sliced through the field and gained position after position on a methodical march. When the checkered flag came out, Johnson soared across the line nearly two seconds ahead of Halbert and over five seconds ahead of third-place finisher Smith. Fourth place went to Gough and Lloyd Brothers Motorsports / Team Hurt by Accident's Brad Baker rounded out the top five.
Although Mees led a brilliant charge through the field, the rule relating to backup bike usage in the event of red flag restarts states that riders can only utilize backup bikes until five laps have been completed by the leader.
"Following the on-track incident, there was no way that Jared could get his 'A' bike ready in time for the restart," said Director of Flat Track Dan Johnsen. "We allowed him to restart on his backup bike to safeguard him as we considered the interpretation of the rule. As he was circulating, we reexamined the rulebook and conferred with scoring to determine that the leader had officially completed six laps and was working on his seventh lap at the time of the red flag, and therefore backup machines were not an option for competition. He was credited with the five laps he completed prior to the red flag on his 'A' bike and the subsequent points."
Earlier in the night, Coolbeth pulled off a narrow .371-second win over Mees in the all-important Dash for Cash. The points that Mees gained from that second place finish could prove vital as the series winds down.
The points swing now has Johnson in the lead by a narrow four points over Mees, 357-353, and Halbert just another four points back with 349. Baker backed up his fast qualifying effort with a fifth place finish on the potent Ducati, putting him sixth in points going into the last round.
In the ever-competitive Motorcycle-Superstore.com Pro Singles class, Rod Lake Racing / Brown's Cycles' Brian Bauman earned his second win of the season, finishing 2.181 seconds ahead of Knoxville winner Shayna Texter's RLT Racing Honda.
The 16-lap Pro Singles main featured much of the same excitement as the GNC Twins main. Texter had her RLT Racing Honda out in front on the initial start and led the first lap when points leader Mikey Martin had his Weirbach Racing Honda blow up on lap two, landing him on the ground in turn two. With less than two laps in the books, Martin was allowed to use his back up Honda for the complete restart. Bowman nailed the restart and ran away, leading every lap on his way to the top spot on the podium.
"When Shayna got the hole shot I thought 'Oh no there she goes again, just like Knoxville,' but I was able to get the restart and hold on for the win," Bauman said.
With Bauman holding over a two second advantage, the crowd turned its attention to fan-favorite Shayna Texter and points-contender Gerit Callies. The two battled for 16 straight laps, repeatedly exchanging positions. When all was said and done, it was Texter who grabbed second place, earning her second podium in the last three races.
Martin worked his backup bike up to an eighth place finish, allowing him to maintain a 14 point advantage over Mikey Avila, 303-289. Calistoga third-place finisher Callies is now just one point back from Avila with 288 points.
Next up for the AMA Pro Flat Track Harley-Davidson Insurance Grand National Championship presented by Motorcycle-Superstore.com is the AMA Pro Flat Track Season Finale, scheduled for Saturday, October 15, 2011 at the LA County Fairplex in Pomona, Ca.
More, from a press release issued by Harley-Davidson:
COOLBETH TAKES FACTORY HARLEY TO SIXTH PLACE AT CALISTOGA
Johnson Wins and Takes Grand National Points Lead from Mees
CALISTOGA, Calif. Harley-DavidsonÂ® Screamin' EagleÂ® Factory rider Kenny Coolbeth raced to a sixth-place finish in the AMA Pro Harley-Davidson Insurance Flat Track Championship event at Calistoga Speedway. Coolbeth placed second in his heat race and won the Dash for Cash bonus sprint. The 25-lap main was won by Zanotti Racing/Schaeffer`s Harley-Davidson rider Jake Johnson, who took the series points lead with one race left on the 2011 schedule.
Coolbeth's Harley-Davidson XR750 was one of the fastest motorcycles on the half-mile track during qualifying, and at the start of the main the Factory Harley rider joined a lead pack that also included Johnson, Rogers Lake/Blue Springs Harley-Davidson rider Jared Mees, Kings Kustom/White's Harley-Davidson Sammy Halbert, and White's Harley-Davidson rider Matt Weidman, who led the pack on the first lap. Johnson took the lead on lap four, with Halbert and Coolbeth in close pursuit. As the leaders crossed the line following lap six, Mees crashed and the race was stopped by a red flag. His Harley-Davidson too damaged to continue, Mees was allowed to re-start the race from the back of the pack on a back-up motorcycle. Johnson took the lead on the re-start and opened a gap on Halbert and Coolbeth that grew to almost two seconds. Coolbeth struggled with poor traction from mid-race on, and at one point almost lost control of his motorcycle before dropping back to sixth place. Johnson won with a 1.855-second lead over Halbert. Fasthog.com/American Harley-Davidson rider Bryan Smith was third, followed by Kawasaki rider Luke Gough, Brad Baker on the Lloyd Brothers Ducati, and Coolbeth.
"We had a really great bike early in the program, but decided to change the rear tire before the main, and that did not work out for us," said Coolbeth. "I did not have good traction at the rear and was really struggling with the bike through the entire race."
Mees, who was leading the series in points before the Calistoga race, worked his way through the pack and passed Coolbeth on the last lap for an apparent six-place finish. He was disqualified after the race, when officials ruled that because the red-flag restart occurred after five race laps were complete, the rules did not permit Mees to re-enter the race with a back-up motorcycle. Mees was credited with completing five laps, and placed 19th.
His race position and a second-place finish the Dash for Cash earned Mees five points for the evening. Johnson, the defending Grand National champion, gained 27 points with the win and third place in the Dash, and took over the points lead. With one event left in the AMA Pro Harley-Davidson Insurance Flat Track Championship series, Johnson has 357 points. Mees is second with 353 points, followed by Halbert with 349 and Coolbeth with 298.
The final race on the AMA Grand National Twins schedule is Oct. 15 on the Los Angeles County Fairplex half-mile in Pomona, Calif.
Harley-Davidson Motor Company produces heavyweight custom, cruiser and touring motorcycles and offers a complete line of Harley-Davidson motorcycle parts, accessories, riding gear and apparel, and general merchandise. For more information, visit harley-davidson.com.
The Screamin' Eagle Flat Track team is sponsored by Matco Tools.