After a thrilling nose-to-tail battle at the Cal Expo Fairgrounds on Saturday night, Kawasaki-mounted No. 42 Bryan Smith claimed the Sacramento Mile victory for the sixth consecutive year. The Michigan native started from pole position, led every lap in the Main and topped Harley-Davidson Screamin’ Eagle rider No. 2 Kenny Coolbeth, Jr. in a photo finish by a margin of 0.024 of a second.
Smith, after letting out a victory yell from his Crosley/Howerton Kawasaki Ninja 650, shared his strategy during the race to secure the win over Coolbeth.
“I could feel the No. 2 and the No. 6,” Smith said. “I thought, ‘Man I’m tired of being nervous out front, I want to be about second or third.’ I rolled off and Brad [Baker] went by me and then his bike blew up, I about ran into him. I said, ‘Alright, I’m better off being out front.’ It was a nail-biter those last few laps. Getting in the corner was a little funky and I’m just glad Kenny [Coolbeth, Jr.] didn’t run me over going into turn one or three going into the last lap.”
Coolbeth showed speed early in the evening, having dominated his Heat race by 2.404 seconds, and relentlessly battled with Smith for the entirety of the abbreviated 20-lap Main event. The race was red flagged as the leaders were working Lap 3 due to No. 98 Kayl Kolkman’s engine failure and crash in Turn 4.
“I just took a toe strap and strapped it to this thing and came up a little short,” Coolbeth said. “I was going to go around the outside in turn three and just stick it out, but I figured second place was better than third, so we just stuck with it and it feels good. I’m looking forward to the rest of the season. We’ve had a terrible couple of weekends. We just have to keep doing this and get confidence back, and beat this guy.”
Local rider No. 80 Stevie Bonsey, who hails from Salinas, Calif., secured third place aboard his Harley-Davidson 750.
“I got a good start off of that single-file restart and I’m glad that I did,” Bonsey said. “Henry [Wiles] was messing with me on the first start and I saw that group getting away and that’s not what I wanted. So on that restart I knew I had to get out in front of that Kawasaki and connect with these guys and just run consistent laps, and that’s what we did. I didn’t have the power and quite the steam in this race to make any moves, so we’ll build on what we’ve got. I’m just happy to be up here.”
No. 69 Sammy Halbert, who started the weekend as the series points leader, placed eighth in Saturday’s race, dropping him to the second in the point standings behind new leader Smith. Smith now leads the field by just two points heading into another Mile event next weekend in Springfield, Ill.
Up next is the Springfield Mile I on Sunday, May 29 at the Illinois State Fairgrounds. Be sure to purchase your tickets in advance at http://www.springfieldmile.org/ to see if Bryan Smith will be able to make it three for three on the Miles in 2016.
Harley-Davidson GNC1 presented by Vance & Hines:
Harley-Davidson Pole Award: Bryan Smith
McElroy Packaging Lucky 13 Award Winner: Bryan Smith
MotoBatt Hard Charger Award Winner: Jarod Vanderkooi
Ohlins Fastest Lap Award Winner: Brad Baker
Sunoco “Go The Distance” Award Leader: Henry Wiles (147.5 miles completed)