The AMA Pro Flat Track racing action was fast and furious at the Illinois State Fairgrounds this weekend as the top ten riders finished within one second of each other, with flat track ‘Mile Specialist’ Willie McCoy squeaking out his first career Grand National victory after over 20 years of competing. McCoy started his Grand National career in 1989 but is considered a ‘Mile Specialist’ as he only joins the paddock for a few select races every year, including the Springfield Mile.
“I can’t believe this,” said McCoy in AMA Pro Racing’s press release. “I’ve wanted to win this race my whole life. I even knew exactly what I would say afterward, but I don’t remember a thing now. I just wish my wife and daughters could have been here, but I know they’re celebrating at home.”
McCoy just edged out another crowd favorite, Chris Carr, who is on his farewell tour after a long and storied career in flat track racing. Carr gave it everything he had to win at Springfield, but fell 0.012 seconds short of claiming his first victory of the 2011 season. A class act, Carr stated he was happy for Willie, saying “No one has worked longer or harder.”
The 25-lap AMA Pro Harley-Davidson Insurance race was brought to a halt when Lap 21 was red-flagged after Bryan Smith and Rob Pearson crashed on opposite ends of the track. In the ensuing start, a ten-rider scrum would battle for the top three spots, with defending AMA Pro Grand National Champion Jake Johnson grabbing the final slot on the podium.
Behind him, the freight train of riders included Kenny Coolbeth, Jared Mees, Johnny Lewis, Sammy Halbert, Brad Baker, Matt Weidman and Nichole Cheza. After Sunday night’s race, Halbert still holds a slight five-point lead for the overall 2011 AMA Pro Racing Flat Track Championship over Mees. At ten points back, defending champ Johnson still has a good shot at repeating.
The Springfield Mile is one of the most popular venues of the AMA Pro Racing Grand National Championships. Fans were treated to some fantastic racing in both classes this past weekend.
Halbert secured the AMA Grand National Singles Championship the day before during the Springfield Short Track National. Henry Wiles won the race for the fifth consecutive year, but Halbert secured the Singles title with a fifth-place finish. Rookie Jeffrey Carver, Jr., the 2010 Pro Singles champ, had a breakout weekend, winning his first heat race and the Dash for Cash on Saturday, then leading the first half of the Main Event before eventually being overtaken by Wiles and Johnson after running high on a turn.
In the Motorcycle-Superstore.com Pro Singles Main Event, Jake Shoemaker held off a tightly packed field of competitors for his first Pro Singles Main victory. The 18-rider pack was clumped tightly together until a last-lap crash gave Shoemaker the slimmest margin of separation needed to claim the victory. Three riders crossed the line almost simultaneously, with Zakk Palmer and Briar Bauman staking their own claims to the victory, but it was determined that Shoemaker won by 0.002 seconds over Palmer with Bauman crossing the line third a scant 0.010 seconds back.
Making the victory even more impressive is the fact that it was Shoemaker’s first ride on the Weirbach Racing Honda.
RLT Racing/Lancaster Harley-Davidson rider Shayna Texter finished just off the podium in fourth while Jake Cunningham rounded out the top five.
AMA Pro Singles points leader Mikey Martin didn’t have his best outing during the Springfield Mile, finishing in seventh place. Martin still fared better than his primary competitors as Gerit Callies crashed early and never made it out of qualifying while Mikey Avila was part of a three-rider incident on the last lap of the Main Event which bumped him down to 17th. Callies had cut the deficit to four points the day before after finishing third in the Springfield Short Track race but now trails by 17 after the sub-par showing in the Mile.
Bauman won Saturday’s Pro Singles Short Track event on the Rod Lake Racing Honda, a small consolation for his disqualification after winning the Peoria TT a few weeks back.
AMA Pro Grand National Twins Springfield Mile II Results 2011:
1. Willie McCoy (Harley-Davidson)
2. Chris Carr (Harley-Davidson)
3. Jake Johnson (Harley-Davidson)
4. Kenny Coolbeth, Jr. (Harley-Davidson)
5. Jared Mees (Harley-Davidson)
6. Johnny Lewis (Kawasaki)
7. Sammy Halbert (Harley-Davidson)
8. Brad Baker (Ducati)
9. Matt Weidman (Harley-Davidson)
10. Nichole Cheza (Harley-Davidson)
11. Doug Lawrence (Harley-Davidson)
12. Michael Kirkness (Harley-Davidson)
13. Brandon Robinson (Harley-Davidson)
14. Shaun Russel (Kawasaki)
15. Luke Gough (Kawasaki)