2011 Hartford Half Mile Podium (from left to right): Bryan Smith, Jared Mees and Kenny Coolbeth Jr.
Round 8 of the AMA Pro Racing Harley-Davidson
Insurance Flat Track
Championship came to Michigan's beautiful Hartford Motor Speedway-home of the "Wicked Half-Mile"-last weekend, and even powerful rain storms in advance of the event couldn't stop the banked oval from being ready to go come race day.
Rogers Lake Racing/Blue Springs Harley-Davidson's Jared Mees was ready, too, and the former AMA Pro Twins Champion ran away with the 25-lap National, proving he's on a serious hot streak. After struggling early in the year, Mees turned in two wins and a second in just the last three rounds.
"After the California races, I decided I was just going to have fun and win races," said Mees. "I'm not even going to think about points. I was doing pretty good at the Outlaw races, but now it's coming together at the Nationals, too."
Scott Powersports' Johnny Lewis got the holeshot on his Kawasaki
and led the first six laps with Mees glued to his rear wheel. Mees was able to power by on lap seven going into Turn 3, and the race for the lead was over as Mees instantly began to gap the rest of the field. Lewis had Kenny Coolbeth and his Harley-Davidson Motor Company-backed machine to contend with for a few laps, but he couldn't hold off Coolbeth for long, and the latter took possession of second for good on lap eleven.
Kenny Coolbeth Jr. (#2) had a battle with Johnny Lewis before snagging second at Hartford's Half Mile.
"When I got into second Jared was about half a straightaway ahead, and I thought I might be able to catch him," said Coolbeth. "But he just kept pulling away." Mees crossed the line with more than a 3-second win margin.
The day's fast qualifier, Fasthog.com/American Harley-Davidson's Bryan Smith, was able to secure the last podium slot on lap thirteen. Lewis, meanwhile, dropped back nearly another three seconds into a six-rider brawl for fourth with Lewis, Matt Weidman (White's Harley-Davidson), Chris Carr (American Motorcyclist/Dallas Fort Worth Honda
), Jake Johnson (Zanotti Racing), Sammy Halbert (Kings Kustoms / LZ Racing), and Jimmy Wood (Southland Racing).
At the end it was Carr taking the spot on lap twenty-one. Current series points-leader Halbert worked his way around Johnson and Weidman for a hard-earned sixth. Defending AMA Pro Grand National Champion Johnson and his fading brakes held on for an eighth-place finish, just ahead of Wood.
In a preview of things to come, Mees backed up his fast heat time with the Dash for Cash win and the $1,000, picking up the five points that go with it. Johnny Lewis was second, with Heat 2 winner Jimmy Wood third.
Kawasaki's Bryan Smith claimed the final podium position after crossing the finish line nearly five seconds behind Mees.
Despite the two points Halbert was able to pick up on Johnson, Mees maxed out on points and gained sixteen on Halbert. Heading into Round 9, only seventeen points separate the top three AMA Pro Harley-Davidson Insurance Grand National Championship contenders.
Pro Singles main turned into a two-rider war as series points leaders Gerit Callies (Vortex/O'Neal) and Mikey Avila (Digger 57/M.E.H. Corp) fought it out. Callies held the point early on, but gave way to current points leader Avila on lap eleven of the sixteen-lap event.
Weirbach Racing's Mikey Martin, Bell Helmets/Teknic Leathers' Hayden Gillim, and Scott Powersports' Jake Shoemaker had a great race for fourth, finishing in that order.
The AMA Pro Harley-Davidson Insurance Flat Track Championship next heads for the Lima Half-Mile at Ohio's Allen Country Fairgrounds on Saturday, June 25. For tickets and information, visit www.ohionationalchampionship.net
or call 419 991 1491.
To be a part of the AMA Pro Harley-Davidson Insurance Flat Track Championship, visit us at www.amaproracing.com/ft
and join us on www.facebook.com/AMAProFlatTrackSeries