Harley-Davidson Screamin’ Eagle factory rider Kenny Coolbeth finished third in last weekend’s AMA Grand National Twins race, but captured the overall points’ lead.
Harley-Davidson Wrecking Crew riders took two spots on the podium in the AMA Grand National Twins main event at Volunteer Speedway, as Blue Springs Harley-Davidson/Screamin’ Eagle rider Jared Mees finished second and Harley-Davidson Screamin’ Eagle factory rider Kenny Coolbeth was third. Mees finished 0.568-seconds behind the winner, Halbert Family/Kings Kustoms rider Sammy Halbert. All three riders were on Harley-Davidson XR750 motorcycles.
It was the first Grand National Twins event win for the 21-year-old Halbert, who also won his qualifying heat and earned five points for winning the Dash for Cash bonus sprint at Volunteer Speedway.
Halbert led from the start of the race, but was passed by Mees on Lap 5. One lap later the race was stopped when R&D Machine/Claremore Custom Cycles rider AJ Eslick spun out in turn two. Mees took the lead again on the restart, with Halbert and Coolbeth giving chase. Halbert passed Mees for the lead on Lap 12. Mees and Halbert then battled for 10 more laps, with Mees closing in the corners but never able officially take the lead. With about three laps to go, Halbert was able to open a slight lead that Mees was not able to close. Coolbeth trailed the leaders by less than a second for most of the race. Moroney’s Harley-Davidson/Screamin’ Eagle rider Bryan Smith finished fourth.
“It was some really aggressive racing but a lot of fun. Halbert found some good lines and ran a great race,” said Mees. “The Blue Springs crew put me on a great-running Harley-Davidson, and Halbert and I were really dicing it out in the corners before I started to slip a little bit and he opened a lead. And I had Coolbeth right on my tail the whole race. I think this is going to be a very competitive season.”
It was the second podium of the season for Coolbeth, the defending Grand National Twins champion, who finished second on the track at the season opener at the Springfield Mile on Memorial Day weekend. Coolbeth was later declared the winner of that race after Smith’s fuel failed a post-race test and subsequent appeals, and he was disqualified.
“It was a great race, and I was kind of hanging back there in third thinking the leaders might mess each other up, and they came close a few times,” said Coolbeth. “You are really going to have to be on your game this season, because right now everyone is really equal in terms of performance. And they have added the Dash for Cash, which counts for points, and you need to be in that race and do well. We had a good night and leave here with the points lead.”
After two of nine 2009 AMA Grand National Twins Championship events, Coolbeth leads the series in points with 43, followed by Mees with 38, Chris Carr with 32 and Halbert with 30.
The 2009 AMA Grand National Twins Championship will next race on June 27 on the Allen county Fairgrounds half-mile, in Lima, Ohio
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