Round 4 of the 2015 AMA Pro Flat Track Grand National Championship went down late last night at the Sacramento Mile and Bryan Smith again came away the victor for his 5th win in-a-row at the Cal Expo Fairgrounds-hosted event in the California capitol. Smith, riding the #42 Howerton Motorsports/Crosley Brands/Villa-Esparza/Kawasaki-sponsored Kawasaki-sponsored EX650 that he used to win last week's National main at Springfield, held off a big charge from Brandon Robinson on the #44 Latus Motors/Castrol Oil-sponsored Triumph Bonneville to take the win at the 50th anniversary edition of the popular West Coast event. Defending AMA Grand National Champion Jared Mees was able to tighten the points up between himself and current points leader Kenny Coolbeth, Jr. by bringing the #1 Rogers Racing/Las Vegas H-D-sponsored XR750 home in the 3rd-place position.
This makes Flyin' Bryan's fourth win on a Kawasaki, after taking the win in 2011 on his father Barry's tuned Moroney's H-D XR. Smith's first win for current team owner Rick Howerton came at Sacto in late July 2012, and has since taken the top spot on the box on a derivative of Howerton's original build from their initial season together four seasons ago.
Last year when Howerton stepped back from the full-time grind of running the team, crew chief Jeff Gordon and head wrench 'Dink' Glidden paired up with the rest of the team and built the team and bikes around the popular C&J chassis that populates the paddock in the AMA Pro Flat Track Grand National Championship. With Howerton stepping back in late in the off-season due to missing the thrill of the competition, they have since put together another rocket from Howerton's engineering mind that never seems to miss a beat nor come up with a new, winning combination. But, they have yet to use that new 'razor' look mount in any of the races, after having experienced some handling issues last week during the first practice at Springfield. But you can bet it won't be long for that combination to be hitting the track in anger ready to displace the current, albeit winning effort so far that is two-for-two in the first mile events of the long season.
In the shot above, Smith acknowledges the crowd after taking the win in heat race #1 on the #42 Howerton Motorsports/Crosley Brands/Kawasaki/Villa-Esparza-sponsored Kawasaki EX650 at the Springfield Mile I during round 3 of the 2015 AMA Pro Flat Track Grand National Championship at the Illinois State Fairgrounds on Sunday, May 24. Smith went on to take all the marbles in setting fast time, winning his heat and the Dash for Cash, and then coming back to take his first win of the season at the Memorial Day weekend running of the classic event.
The series takes a short break in order to compete in the upcoming XGames events in Austin, TX. and will be shown on ESPN this coming Thursday, June 4 at 8:30 PM EDT. You won't want to miss seeing our heroes from The Rolling Thunder Show represent the sport we all love and cherish in front of a National tv audience and some of the biggest sports-minded fanatics and fans in the world. This will be big for the sport as well as for the level of competition at the XGames. So set your alarm clocks and DVRs NOW so you don't miss the great action ahead this Thursday!.
You can check out the full results from the Sacto Mile here, and a big thanks to AMA Pro Racing and the Sacto Mile for their full press releases, below.
Our picture review from last weekend's event at Springfield will be delayed until next weekend due to some pressing matters I have to address in Indy, but stay tuned as we WILL have it soon as promised and as we have been doing for some time now. Thanks for your patience!
A big congrats and a tip of the helmet go out to the Howerton Motorsports/Crosley Brands team headed up by Big Rick Howerton, Jeff Gordon and Dink Glidden of Indy, as well as star rider Bryan Smith from Flint, MI. for knocking it down last night in Sacramento. You guys went out their with a big mountain to climb to get Bryan his 5th win in-a-row and came away the victors over the other 36 GNC1 riders on hand on the Left Coast and slayed the dragon. Way to go guys, take a big bow, as you all truly deserve it, and you made us old long-time flat track heads damn proud!
SACRAMENTO, Calif. (May 30, 2015) - A handful of super-fast challengers and a second-row start would prove to be no problem for Bryan Smith in Saturday night's Harley-Davidson GNC1 presented by Vance & Hines main event. The rider of the No. 42 Crosley Radio Kawasaki made a last-moment draft pass to win his fifth-consecutive Sacramento Mile in show-stopping fashion in the 50th running of the iconic race.
Smith's .02-second win is easily one of the most dramatic victories of his career, as it took until the final few feet on the race's 25th and final lap to overtake Brandon Robinson.
Bryan Smith #42 leads Brad Baker #6, Jared Mees #1, Brandon Robinson #44 and Kenny Coolbeth, Jr. #2 in the running of the Sacramento Mile on Saturday, May 30. Smith went on to win his 5th in-a-row at the Cal-Expo Fairgrounds in the California capitol. Photo courtesy of AMA Pro Flat Track.
"It was a scrap," said Smith speaking about the final five laps of the race. "I wanted it to be just a one-on-one race with Jared (Mees) and I, but there were two other guys that wanted to race with us too, in Brad (Baker) and the No. 44 Brandon (Robinson). The guys made me work for it. I didn't know coming to the checkered flag if I could get Brandon or not. His bike was really strong, but luckily I just squeaked by at the end."
Smith has two wins in his last two races, both coming on Mile tracks, and now sits fifth in the point standings. Each of Smith's five straight Sacramento Mile wins have been by less than a tenth of a second.
"They've all been hard in their own way," said Smith. "Last year, I had to work for it and this year it was even a tougher scrap. It makes it worth it more, I guess. I have to say, with five laps to go, I didn't know if I was going to be able to pull it off. I just dug down and thought to myself how everyone was watching so I guess I'd better go for it."
Robinson, riding the No. 44 Latus Motors Triumph, was spectacular on Saturday, and even though he wasn't able to survive Smith's last-second charge, he was pleased with a second place finish one week after finishing 17th at Springfield. Midway through the main, Robinson was among the riders trading the lead before running high in one corner and being shifted back in the field. He fought his way back to the front and even fended off a pass attempt from Smith entering turn three on the final lap, but he just couldn't keep a wheel in front at the line. Robinson now sits third in the point standings after four rounds.
Piloting the No. 1 Las Vegas Harley-Davidson machine, Mees finished third and closed out the podium. Mees was in the mix all night and even held the lead for several laps. The defending champion continues to show the consistency that led to his title in 2014 and now sits second in points. Mees has earned three podium appearances in the first four races of the year and looks poised for another championship run.
Baker, aboard the No. 6 Factory Harley-Davidson, and Kenny Coolbeth Jr., riding the No. 2 Zanotti Racing Harley-Davidson, finished fourth and fifth, respectively.
Mikey Martin, riding the No. 91 Weirbach Racing Kawasaki was the early hero on Saturday night, as he won his heat, earned the Dash for Cash victory and sat on the pole for the main event. In the main however, he led the first lap but wasn't able to hold his stride and settled for 10th.
Australian road racing star Troy Bayliss was running his second of five scheduled AMA Pro Flat Track events and showed improvement throughout the day. However, in his semifinal, he was involved in an on-track incident and was transported to a local hospital for further evaluation.
The Sacramento Mile was the final AMA Pro Flat Track event prior to motorcycle dirt track racing's debut in the X Games. The Harley-Davidson Flat-Track will kick off the action sports showcase at Circuit of the Americas in Austin, Texas on Thursday, June 4 and fans around the world can watch the action live on ESPN at 8:30 p.m. ET (5:30 p.m. PT).
In a wild GNC2 main event, Nick Armstrong came away with his first career AMA Pro Flat Track victory, and it came in his home state of California. Riding the No. 44E Southland Racing Honda, Armstrong was neck-and-neck with Tristan Avery on the race's final lap, but managed to put his wheel in front of the rookie for the win. By taking the checkered flag, Armstrong catapulted himself to first in the GNC2 point standings after four rounds.
"It's huge to come away with the Sacramento Mile win," said Armstrong. "This is kind of a home race for me and I have a lot of friends and family here, so to come away with this win is awesome."
Avery, riding the No. 16S Ron Ayers Motorsports Honda, recorded the best finish of his young professional career, and with the runner-up performance, now sits 15th in the standings.
Rounding out the podium with an impressive third place finish was Indiana's Brandon Wilhelm aboard the No. 24J Mike Butler Racing Honda. Wilhelm has now recorded three-consecutive top-five finishes to start the 2015 GNC2 season and sits second in points behind Armstrong.
Jamison Minor, riding the No. 27U Roy Built Honda and Kolby Carlile, aboard the No. 36B K.C. Cycle Helmet World Kawasaki, finished fourth and fifth, respectively.
It was a rough finish to the night for Davis Fisher, who crashed while leading the main event after nine laps. The No. 67M Parkinson Brothers Racing rider held the points lead entering Sacramento, but his 17th place finish puts him back to third in the championship hunt.
Next up, the stars of AMA Pro Flat Track will visit Hagerstown, Md., for the Hagerstown Half-Mile on June 20 at Hagerstown Speedway.
Harley-Davidson GNC1 presented by Vance & Hines Top 5 finishers
1. Bryan Smith, Kawasaki
2. Brandon Robinson, Triumph
3. Jared Mees, Harley-Davidson
4. Brad Baker, Harley-Davidson
5. Kenny Coolbeth Jr., Harley-Davidson
Harley-Davidson GNC1 presented by Vance & Hines Point Standings (After Round 4)
1. Kenny Coolbeth Jr., 67
2. Jared Mees, 62
3. Brandon Robinson, 56
4. Sammy Halbert, 55
5. Bryan Smith, 52
GNC2 Top 5 finishers
1. Nick Armstrong, Honda
2. Tristan Avery, Honda
3. Brandon Wilhelm, Honda
4. Jamison Minor, Honda
5. Kolby Carlile, Kawasaki
GNC2 Point Standings (After Round 4)
1. Nick Armstrong, 56
2. Brandon Wilhelm, 55
3. Davis Fisher, 52
4. Jamison Minor, 48
5. Andrew Luker, 46
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.
Press release courtesy of SMI Promotions/The Sacramento Mile.
Smith makes last lap slingshot pass to win
1. 42 Bryan Smith, Kawasaki EX650
2. 44 Brandon Robinson, Triumph Bonneville
3. 1 Jared Mees, Harley-Davidson XR750
4. 6 Brad Baker, Harley-Davidson XR750
5. 2 Kenny Coolbeth, Jr., Harley-Davidson XR750
6. 23 Jeffrey Carver, Jr. Kawasaki EX650
7. 59 Willie McCoy, Harley-Davidson XR750
8. 7 Sammy Halbert, Kawasaki EX650
9. 15 Nichole Mees, Harley Davidson XR750
10. 91 Mikey Martin, Kawasaki EX650
c. (317) 332-3899www.SactoMile.com