The 2012 running of the Springfield Mile II finally gets ready to roll off the warm-up line after a two-week delay negated by the remnants of Hurrican Isaac that virtually drowned-out the event's normal running during the Labor Day Weekend. Reset to two weeks later and you couldn't have asked for better weather for the last Midwest race of the year at round 13 of the 2012 AMA Pro Flat Track Harley-Davidson Insurance Grand National Championship presented by Motorcycle-Superstore.com season.
Each of the six men on the front row of the Springfield Mile II got there via their 1-2 finishes in their respective heats throughout the day, with JD Beach, Bryan Smith and Brandon Robinson all scoring wins for the first-ever time that Kawasaki had won all three heat races at a Grand National Twins Series event in the series' over-60 years of competition, helping to slowly close the door on the Harley-Davidson XR750 dominance seen throughout the better part of it's over 40 years of existence on the flat tracks of America.
Each of those three men, however, raced clean and hard against three of the best XRs in the business in the hands of Jake Johnson, Kenny Coolbeth, Jr. and Jared Mees, and all six also competed in the Dash for Cash event that saw Smith again take the #42 Crosley Radio/Howerton Motorsports/Eaken Racing/Guts Wear-backed Kawasaki to the win for his 3rd Dash event win of the season for the Indy Westside-based team.
As everyone well knows, Smith also led 20 laps in the 25-lap National main to take the win over Sammy Halbert by just .041 seconds, with Mees on the #9 Rogers Racing/Blue Springs H-D/Saddlemen/National Cycle-sponsored XR coming home in the 3rd-place spot to add a point to his overall lead in the AMA Grand National Championship by 12 points.
That 12-point difference goes to 2-Time and defending AMA Grand National Champion Jake Johnson who led four of the first five laps on the mile oval at the Illinois State Fairgrounds. Jersey Jake fought like the true champ he is and has been on the #1 Zanotti Racing/Schaeffer's H-D/Boughner Racing Suspension/Arai-backed XR to end up in the 5th-place spot in the National main, after a great finish of 2nd to Smith in the Dash. If not for coming together with defending Springfield Mile winner Willie McCoy on the last lap Johnson very well could have been in the top-3.
Kenny Coolbeth, Jr. on the #2 Screamin' Eagle/Harley-Davidson Motor Co/Fox/Arai Helmets-backed factory XR was seeing just his second race back after his return at the Lucas Oil Indy Mile in August after his late June leg injury suffered at Lima. The King of Cool pulled out a great 6th-place finish on the day in the main and also gained two points for his 4th-place finish in the Dash to work his way back into the top-10 in the championship battle after missing several rounds recuperating, including the previous night's short track in which he elected to sit out to further heal his injured leg.
The other two lightning fast Kawasakis also put on a great show at Springfield, with both men shining on their respective 650R Ninja-based parallel twins.
Brandon Robinson is having a great career resurgence on the #44 Werner-Springsteen Racing Kawasaki/Sponseller/Arai/Derbi Ridge Salvage-backed rocket. Having come within a half-wheel length of winning the Lucas Oil Indy Mile only to lose to Sammy Halbert, BRob44 also has another top-5 this season after a 4th-place run at the Sacto Mile in late July. Winning his heat at Springfield and ending up with a solid 9th-place finish in the National main should let everyone know that the popular and friendly Pennsylvania resident and former Expert Twins Champ is finally healed up from his 2009 knock out of the park at Indy and is going to be a force to be reckoned with soon. It also further shows that legendary team owners Bill Werner and Jay Springsteen still know talent and have a great knack for putting it all together this year along with the addition of '09 Rookie of the Year Stevie Bonsey to their line-up. Let's hope this one stays pat for next season and we can see this team really come together and gel and get the W-S Racing bikes back on top of the box where they and the two fine young men riding for them deserve to be.
After competing in the AMA Pro GoPro Daytona SportBike Series Championship round at New Jersey Motorsports Park the previous weekend, JD Beach had the weekend off from his 'full time' job in the AMA Pro Road Racing ranks to hang his leg off of the #95 USC Racing/Red Bull/Bell Helmets/Alpinestars-sponsored Kawi. After a 6th-place run in the previous night's short track, Beach won the fastest heat of the day on the mile, took 5th in the Dash and ran up towards the front all day in the 25-lap National main to card a superb 4th-place finish for what could be his best-ever effort on a Twins Series machine. We hope to see much more of this fine lad as he brings another heightened level of excitement and vitality to The Rolling Thunder Show.
With the final race in the Midwest now in the back pocket, the stars and heroes of The Rolling Thunder Show head to The Santa Rosa Mile, the final Twins Series mile oval event before wrapping up the year on the Tucson and Pomona half-miles in the following successive weekends.
Will the Smith-ridden Crosley/Howerton/Eaken rocket again be able to hold off the XR brigade on a track that will make all things equal for all of the teams in attendance since the series hasn't competed there in over four and-a-half decades, let alone the difference in the track surface? Or will one of the other Mean Green Machines pull it out for their first win of the season or career?
The Crosley/Howerton team wants to win this one more then ever if for no other reason to pay homage to recently-deceased engine mastermind, Skip Eaken. That in itself could see the team take it's record-tying 3rd win of the season in just their first-full season together.
Only time will tell, and very little of it at that as practice rolls off at 1:15 EDT/10:15 PDT on Sunday, with the Grand National main event's 25-lap feature set to run at 7:00 PM EDT/4:00 PM PDT at round 14 of the 2012 AMA Pro Flat Track Harley-Davidson Insurance Grand National Championship presented by Motorcycle-Superstore.com season. Whether you're in or out, you better strap in as The Rolling Thunder Show hits the track for one of three remaining rounds in the season and the action is surely going to get hotter and heavier then ever!
You can read the full press release below from the Springfield Mile II event, courtesy of the great crew from AMA Pro Flat Track, while you get ready for tomorrow's great event in Sonoma County, California.
DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (September 25, 2012) - Following a two week rain induced delay the AMA Pro Harley-Davidson Insurance Grand National Championship presented by Motorcycle-Superstore.com and Lucas Oil returned to the Illinois State Fairgrounds for the Springfield Mile. The Illinois Motorcycle Dealers Association and the fairgrounds crew had the big mile oval in nearly perfect condition for the high speed ballet that played out on Sunday afternoon. Bryan Smith, back aboard his Crosley Radio / Howerton Motorsports backed Kawasaki, gave a quick preview of things to come as he swept the four lap Dash for Cash over defending Grand National Champion Jake Johnson (Zanotti Racing) and current points leader Jared Mees (Rogers Racing / Blue Springs Harley-Davidson) by a very narrow margin.
When the 18 rider field roared off the line in the 25-lap National Main Event, it was Johnson claiming the lead over Mees and Screamin' Eagle Harley-Davidson Motor Company's Kenny Coolbeth tucked in right behind. Smith quickly worked his way up from sixth to second on lap three only to slip back again in the large pack that made up the lead pack. Smith roared back to the front and into the lead on lap six. Officially, he would never be headed, as he led every lap from there out, but at places around the huge oval that was not the case. "I was feeling pretty comfortable, I led probably 20 laps or something. I thought it looked like it was going to be no problem,"said Smith. "I was giving it everything I had. I was riding hard and thought nobody was showing me a wheel and I thought I had it covered. With about three to go, my front tire kind of went away and I lost the front end going into turn one and ran wide. Two or three guys went by me. I dropped back to fourth there for a second and my heart about came out my helmet. They all ran real low down the back straightaway and Jared and (Sammy) Halbert were like on top of each other. They were kind of wobbling and Willie (McCoy) was going up the inside of them. I was like almost on the guard rail down the straightaway. It was really, really sketchy. Once I got back into the lead I knew I just had to stick on that rail and not mess up. I could get off the corner really well and I could get into the corners really well. I think that is where the key is for me. In the middle I could match the Harleys in one and two. In three and four I couldn't get through the corner as well. I could really get into the corners deep. I could pass them when I needed to. Even if they showed me a wheel, I could go in a little deeper and still lead it."
Bryan Smith #42 battles with JD Beach #95, Jared Mees #9 and Jake Johnson #1 during the Dash for Cash event at the Springfield Mile II on September 16, eventually winning the Dash and the National main event for the second win this season for the Crosley Radio/Howerton Motorsports team. AMA Pro Flat Track photo by Dave Hoenig.
The top-10 were able to get a little separation, but the war at the front raged on and positions varied wildly all round the track. South East Harley-Davidson's Sammy Halbert worked his way to Smith's rear wheel, but the drive stalled there. "I had a second row start. On the start of the main event, I was able to work my way into second place. There was not much of an outside line, but I was able to make some passes around the outside. I just stuck right on Bryan's rear wheel. I wasn't going to let anybody pass me," added Halbert. Having improved his position the most throughout the main event, Halbert earned the MotoBatt "Hard Charger" Award. Points leader, Jared Mees grabbed his second third place finish of the weekend with a little help from his friends. "I kind of got a little bit of a gift from Jake and Willie. Jake ran around the outside of Willie and Willie squeezed on him. They hit and about went down. That allowed me to get up there and get third" said Mees.
"It got mixed up big time, there at the end. Bryan blew the groove down there and everybody kind of saw the opportunity," said Johnson. "Everybody followed him around the whole race. Two guys went by me down the back straightaway. We came down the front and I just remember Willie going to the bottom and I went to the top and went around a guy and we came in. I had about a half a bike length on him and thought I had him cleared. I guess I started coming down and he was coming up. I felt him kind of getting into the side of me and kind of drug us both off the groove. I kind of feel it was my fault a little bit. I'm not sure. I haven't talked to him yet. I went down to find him, but it was just one of those deals, it was a pretty wild race. We were sitting pretty good, but stuff happens I guess. I had a little bad luck that last lap and got off the groove."
Also benefiting was USC Kawasaki / Red Bull's JD Beach as the youngster moved from sixth to fourth on the last lap. "It was a really good race. I had a lot of fun. I finished fourth and that's my best finish on a twin on the mile," said Beach. "I was happy, I was sitting there with the lead pack. It was cool to get the experience and just to watch them. They were battling really hard. Since there are only a few races left in the season, I think I maybe could have moved up a little bit more, but I don't know the draft good yet. I don't want to take the chance and blow somebody off the groove that's racing for the number 1 plate," explained Beach. "It was a really good race. The bike was working great. A couple guys made a few mistakes on the last few laps. I was in eighth and I was able to get by them and get fourth. I was real happy to be able to get a top five. I didn't make any mistakes really. Not only was it a good learning experience, but there are not that many people that get to go out there and race the Springfield mile with the fastest guys. Not only was I racing with them, I was there for 25 laps getting to watch them. It's cool because growing up I've always watched races with Scott Parker, Chris Carr and Joe Kopp. It was really cool to be up there and see it first hand." Johnson was able to regroup for a fifth place finish just ahead of Coolbeth and McCoy. Beach's USC Kawasaki teammate Jethro Halbert and Werner Springsteen Racing / Kawasaki's Brandon Robinson were nipping on McCoy's heels with Brad Baker (Dodge Brothers Racing / Perry's Harley-Davidson) rounding out the top ten.
Jared Mees heads west for the last three rounds of the AMA Pro Harley-Davidson Insurance Grand National Championship presented by Motorcycle-Superstore.com and Lucas Oil with a 12 point lead over defending Grand National Champion Jake Johnson. Despite his second place finish, Sammy Halbert is now third 23 points off the lead.
Expert Twins Race Results Current GNC Point Standings
A true indicator of how competitive the AMA Pro Motorcycle Superstore.com Pro Singles Main was is that there were eight different leaders of the 16-lap race. Points leader Stephen Vanderkuur (Parkinson Brothers Racing) picked up one point for leading the most laps (4), but Sunnyside Cycles' Cody Johncox led the all important last two laps. "I tried the whole race to get down low, and when I did, I finally got some traction and was able to pull out the win," said Johncox. "This is definitely the biggest win of my career and I'm so happy it came here in Springfield."
The tight pack, breath taking action took it's toll on lap nine. Someone's engine let go as the pack entered turn three, collecting three riders. Kurtis Lee, Eric Stump and Dustin Cassidy were all involved.
Cody Johncox took the win on his #96B Sunnyside Cycle Yamaha over Zakk Palmer by just .005 seconds in the AMA Pro Motorcycle-Superstore.com Pro Singles Championship event at the Springfield Mile II on September 16. AMA Pro Flat Track photo by Dave Hoenig.
After a lengthy delay to clean up the racing surface, the tight swarm picked up where they left off, with a five lap dash to the finish. (per the rulebook, at least five laps must be run following the restart in the main) Jason Isennock (Highs Dairy Stores), Vanderkuur, Zakk Palmer (Western Hills Honda) and Johncox would split the lap leads.
When the double checkers fell the top eleven riders were separated by .554 seconds. Palmer was a mere five thousands of a second off the lead and Michael Bickerton third eighteen hundredths off the lead.
Cole Anderson (Diesel Minnesota) had led the first two laps, then dropped as far back as tenth before charging back to fourth. Isennock, Shayna Texter (DFW Honda / RLT Racing), Vanderkuur, Wyatt Maguire (Kirkland Racing), Dominic Colindres (Weirbach Racing), Jake Shoemaker (Montgomeryville Cycle Center / Bob Weirbach Racing) and Nick Mataya (Shoe Racing) made up the pack that roared across the finish line in mass.
The Motorcycle Superstore.com Pro Singles points race is as close as the day's action was. Stephen Vanderkuur has regained the lead, but only by one point over Jason Isennock. Jake Shoemaker is another point back in third. Ryan Wells sits in fourth, but dropped to 17 behind Shoemaker after being forced to sit out Sunday following his hard fall Saturday night.
Pro Singles Race Results Current Pro Singles Point Standings
The stars of AMA Pro Flat Track head to the West Coast for the Santa Rosa Mile September 30th, 2012. For tickets and information, please visit http://santarosamile.com/.
AMA Pro Racing is the premier professional motorcycle racing organization in North America, operating a full schedule of events and championships for a variety of motorcycle disciplines. Learn more about AMA Pro Racing at www.amaproracing.com.
For additional information contact:
AMA Pro Racing Communications, (386) 492-1014,