Courtesy of AMA Pro Racing
DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (June 3, 2015) – As the dust settled following Bryan Smith‘s thrilling victory at the Sacramento Mile on Saturday, a similar picture to the prior week emerged. Smith won the AMA Pro Harley-Davidson GNC1 presented by Vance & Hines main event by a scant margin while Kenny Coolbeth Jr. did just enough to maintain his points lead following the fourth round of the 2015 AMA Pro Flat Track championship.
Aboard the No. 42 Crosley Radio Kawasaki, Smith led 11 out of 25 laps on Saturday night in the 50th running of the iconic Sacramento Mile at the Cal Expo in Sacramento, Calif. to top a podium composed of three different motorcycle brands.
Smith was in his classic Mile form at Sacramento, routinely forfeiting his lead in the corners before running his opponents down aboard his powerful Kawasaki on the front and back stretches during the night’s main event. Smith prevailed for the fifth straight time at the Cal Expo, but by the slimmest margin yet, as he was forced to make a last-moment draft pass out of Turn 4 to beatBrandon Robinson to the finish line by two hundredths of a second. It was the second AMA Pro Flat Track win for Smith in as many weeks.
“That was five years in a row and this was by far the hardest one,” said smith. “My tire is bald and there was smoke coming off everybody’s rear tire the last couple laps. It was fun but it was nerve-wracking. I would like to thank all the fans. When I got up there and they were all cheering, that’s the best thing.”
With the win, Smith now holds the fifth spot in the official point standings. Also, because he started from ninth position, Smith earned the MotoBatt Hard Charger Award, recognizing the GNC1 rider who improves the most from their starting spot in the main.
Robinson, riding the No. 44 Latus Motors/Castrol Triumph, led eight laps in the main event. After slipping off the groove and falling back in the pack, he fought to the front again and led four laps before Smith took it from him at the finish line on lap 25.
“I’m excited and pumped about finishing second, it’s awesome,” said Robinson. “A lot of people were second-guessing my decision to ride for Triumph this year but my Latus Motors/Castrol Triumph team gave me a great bike. My mechanic worked his butt off all night. We struggled in qualifying and we were on the third row for the heat race, but we just kept charging all night. We got the bike better and it was just on a rail during the main event and I just can’t believe Bryan got me at the line.”
Robinson’s best finish of the year puts him third in the point standings heading into Round 5, the Hagerstown Half-Mile, scheduled for June 20.
Jared Mees earned his third podium appearance of 2015. The defending champion rounded out the podium in Sacramento with a third place finish aboard his No. 1 Las Vegas Harley-Davidson machine and he now sits third in the championship battle.
“A good ride is finishing third place, there’s no doubt, but just feeling how good the motorcycle was, I am a little disappointed,” said Mees. “I felt like I had pretty good control of the race for once on these Miles and I slid a little wide with two or three laps to go. That’s when Baker ran it in pretty deep underneath me and just kind of jumbled us all up and let Robinson put a little gap between us.”
Brad Baker, aboard the No. 6 Factory Harley-Davidson, posted the fastest lap of the race with a time of 37.493 and earned an impressive fourth place finish in Sacramento. Baker also took the lead in the Sunoco “Go the Distance Award,” a year-end prize that recognizes the rider who completes the furthest distance on-track over the course of the season.
Coolbeth finished fifth aboard the No. 2 Zanotti Racing Harley-Davidson, and though it was his second consecutive race having missing the podium, he still left Sacramento with the Harley-Davidson GNC1 presented by Vance & Hines points lead.
Jeffrey Carver Jr. came in sixth on his No. 23 Don’s Kawasaki entry and now sits 11th in the points.
Willie McCoy, aboard the No. 59 Harley-Davidson of Wausau Harley-Davidson, finished seventh in the Sacramento Mile main event. The Justin, Texas, product now sits 12th in the point standings.
Sammy Halbert put together a top-10 effort, but it was actually the worst showing of the season for the rider of the No. 7 Briggs Auto Kawasaki. Halbert settled for eighth place and now sits fourth in the point standings, well within striking distance of the leader, Coolbeth.
Nichole Mees had a strong showing in what will be her final season of Harley-Davidson GNC1 competition, earning a ninth-place finish aboard her No. 15 Black Hill’s Harley-Davidson.
Lodi, Calif.’s Mikey Martin won the all-important Dash for Cash to take top spot on the grid for the night’s GNC1 Main. The local favorite got off to a great start aboard his No. 91 Weirbach Racing Kawasaki and led the 18-rider freight train to the stripe on Lap 1, but was quickly shuffled back and finished an eventual 10th place finish.
Harley-Davidson GNC1 rookies Jarod Vanderkooi, riding the No. 17F Don’s Kawasaki, and Kyle Johnson, aboard the No. 77 Parkinson Brothers Racing Kawasaki, finished 15th and 16th, respectively, and the two are now tied with 12 points apiece in the standings. Both riders are vying for the Saddlemen Rookie of the Year award.
Johnny Lewis continued to show strength aboard the latest addition to the eligible machine list for AMA Pro Flat Track competition. The Ducati Scrambler-inspired 1100cc powerplant out of the Lloyd Brothers Motorsports stable made its second appearance in a GNC1 Main in as many attempts, with Lewis taking home a 13th place finish at Sacramento.
Lewis’ teammate Troy Bayliss showed early promise in the Sacramento Mile, the second of five scheduled AMA Pro Flat Track stops for the Australian road racing star in 2015. Bayliss shaved seconds off his lap times over the course of the day, but crashed in his semifinal and suffered a broken ankle. The Ducati-mounted superstar maintained his upbeat persona and has received immense support from fans on social media as he returns home to recover.
With Shawn Baer‘s 14th place finish aboard the No. 32 SBR KTM 990 Super Duke, five brands were represented on the grid for the GNC1 Main at Sacramento.
Next up, 24 Harley-Davidson GNC1 presented by Vance & Hines riders will take to the world stage as the sport of flat track motorcycle racing will make its debut in ESPN’s extreme sports spectacular, the X Games, later this week. The medal event known as the Harley-Davidson Flat-Track will kick off the X Games at Circuit of the Americas in Austin, Texas and fans can catch all of the action live on ESPN at 8:30 p.m. ET (5:30 p.m. PT).