shows. The facilities and tracks are well run and maintained, the entire community embraces the event and the fans were out in droves.
The K&N AMA Pro Flat Track Overall Points race was tied between three riders, Jake Johnson, Joe Kopp and Sammy Halbert. The double race weekend presented riders the opportunity to gain valuable points and establish distance from the rest of the field. K&N Filters, Motorcycle-Superstore.com and Saddlemen announced their sponsorship and contribution of $70,000 in total prize money towards the series. The tension surrounding the points race and the excitement of new sponsorship made it feel as if we were witnessing the season finale.
The Tourist Trophy or TT throws a kink, literally, into the mix. Per AMA rules a TT course must have one right-hand turn and one jump. Riders with motocross/supermoto backgrounds have dominated the Springfield and Peoria TT’s with Henry Wiles and Jake Johnson winning the last eight TT’s contested.
2009 Overall Points Champion Sammy Halbert (#7) admits TT’s are not his favorite tracks. He is coming off a demoralizing loss to Joe Kopp’s American Agip Ducati at the Budweiser Arizona Mile, and a controversial disqualification after a last lap tangle with Henry Wiles that resulted in a violent crash. Fortunately, both riders were unharmed. When Halbert was asked if the AMA’s decision to strip him of a win and take away the $1500 purse would affect his race strategy at Springfield he said, “It only makes me hungrier for a win. I have my bike setup for the corners, it’s a tight track, you have to be aggressive.”
Chad Cose (#49) and Project K Racing raised the bar, setting the fastest time in qualifying. The young Californian modestly credited the track prep, “They stagger the sessions so we all get a fresh track. I have a strong setup and they did a good job grooming the track, so I felt confident.”
Kenny Coolbeth (#2) was able to take the early lead but eventually dropped back and finished seventh at Springfield.
Former Grand National Champion Kenny Coolbeth (#2) shrugged off questions of bike setup and race strategy on TT courses answering non-chalantly, ” It’s not that big of a deal, I go out there, do my job and go fast.” The “King of Cool” backs up his demeanor with consistent finishes no matter what layout, track conditions or type of bike is thrown at him. A fellow racer remarked, “Coolbeth could put a moped in the top ten if he wanted, he is that talented!”
Kawasaki USA’s Henry Wiles was feeling the heat from his competition. As a favorite to win, the weight of expectation caused the front end of his KX450 to tuck twice in Qualifying and during the “Dash for Cash” scrubbing speed after landing the jump and turning into the only right-hander. Wiles played to the crowd in his pre-race interview saying, “I heard corn grows better in Illinois so I planted some of my own in the right-hander.”
Jared Mees won the Dash for Cash and took the holeshot aboard his Rockysonline.com/Lucas Oil Honda, leading for the first few laps, until a mistake allowed “Hammerin’ Hank” through. Wiles checked out eventually winning by more than five seconds. Ageless veteran, Joe Kopp, also passed Mees to take second. Jared was content with the final spot on the podium, understanding that consistent finishes lead to championships. His 2009 Expert Twins Title was earned in a similar fashion, even though he never won a Twins race.
The K&N AMA Pro Flat Track Series continues June 5th at the Gas City, IN Short Track.
Flat Track Expert Singles Springfield TT Results:
1. Henry Wiles (Kaw)
Taking second-place on the podium was Joe Kopp (left) who is currently tied for first in the championship standings with Jake Johnson.
2. Joe Kopp (Hon)
3. Jared Mees (Hon)
4. Shaun Russell (Hon)
5. Bryan Smith (Kaw)
6. Jake Johnson (Hon)
7. Kenny Coolbeth (Hon)
8. Johnny Lewis (Hon)
9. Mick Kirkness (Suz)
10. Jesse Janisch (Kaw)
11. Sammy Halbert (Yam)
12. Chris Carr (Hon)
13. Cad Cose (Hon)
14. Rob Pearson (Yam)
15. Ion Stear (Hon)
Flat Track Expert Singles Overall Standings:
1. (Tie) Joe Kopp (98/1 win)/Jake Johnson (98/1 win)
3. Kenny Coolbeth (82/1 win)
4. (Tie) Sammy Halbert (79/1 win)/Jared Mees (79)
6. Henry Wiles (73/1 win)
7. Bryan Smith (57)
8. Johnny Lewis (45)
9. Chris Carr (43)
10. Jethro Halbert (29)
Pro Singles TT
The stage was set for one of the most competitive classes of riders in Flat Track’s history. Motorcycle-Superstore.com was announced as the presenting sponsor, adding $15,000 to the Pro Singles point fund. The Pro Singles race production 450cc single cylinder motorcycles. Springfield’s TT would determine who would take the first step towards the Championship prizes.
Jeff Carver (#24P) was able to take advantage of the battle between Brad Baker (#1) and Mike Martin (#91Y) on the final lap.
The home favorite and overall points leader, Jeffrey Carver Jr.(#24P), was excited after he had the chance to walk the TT layout. “This is almost identical to my practice track at home. We have been working with Yamaha to dial in the 2010 motor. We have been focused on freeing up horsepower. The fuel mapping needed fine tuning and the air box was removed because it restricted air flow. It definitely pulls strong, and I am ready to put it up against the other bikes.” Carver’s work paid off, when he stuck the Van’s Yamaha YZF 450 on pole.
Defending 2009 Pro Singles Champion Brad Baker focused on setup. “I probably make more changes to my bike than any other Pro Singles rider.” As one of the tallest riders in the field, he uses it to his advantage on tight tracks like the TT’s to cut a wide path through the turns and make it difficult to pass.
James “The Rocket” Rispoli (#71B) was on form and sporting a new ride. The DSR Enterprise Honda CRF 450 will be Rispoli’s primary Short Track and TT ride. He earned an all important front row start for the Pro Singles Main Event.
Red Bull’s J.D. Beach (#95C) joined a cast of road racers in Springfield that included 2009 AMA Pro Daytona Sportbike Champion Danny Eslick, Ducati’s Larry Pegram and former MotoGP riders Stevie Bonsey and P.J. Jacobsen.
Beach put his Top Oil Honda out front in the Main and finished with a comfortable 3.2 second lead. Jeff Carver took advantage of the battle for second between Brad Baker and Weirbach Racing’s Mike Martin (#91Y) on the last lap. Baker attempted a pass, but did not make himself wide enough to prevent Carver from coming around the outside of turn 3. Jeff then used the new found power in his Yamaha to out grunt Martin through turns 5 and 6, taking the Honda rider at the line by .085 seconds.
Jeff Carver (80pts) extended his Championship points lead over second place Rod Lake Racing/Mike Velasco Honda rider Brad Baker (68pts).
Flat Track Pro Singles Springfield TT Results:
JD Beach (#95C), Jeffery Carver (#24P) and Michael Martin (#91Y) among others at the start of the Springfield TT.
1. JD Beach (Hon)
2. Jeffery Carver (Yam)
3. Mike Martin (Hon)
4. Brad Baker (Hon)
5. James Rispoli (Hon)
6. Tyler O’Hara (Hon)
7. Eric Stump (Hon)
8. Gerit Callies (Hon)
9. Mike Avila (Hon)
10. Jacob Constantine (Hon)
11. Josh Chisum (Hon)
12. John Long (Suz)
13. Mike LaBelle (Hon)
14. Mike Poe (Kaw)
15. Jake Shoemaker (Suz)
16. Shane Narbonne (Hon)
17. Conner Anderson (Hon)
18. Jeremy Hamilton (Hon)
Flat Track Pro Singles Overall Standings:
1. Jeff Carver (95/1 win)
2. Brad Baker (81/1 win)
3. JD Beach (72/2 wins)
4. James Ripsoli (65)
5. Mike Avila (52)
6. (Tie) Mike LaBelle (40)/Mike Martin (40)
8. Stephen Vanderburgh (31)
9. Michael Toon (28/1 win)
10. Chaz Springsteen (27)