2014 AMA Pro Flat Track Grand National Championship On The Line At PomonaFri, 10 Oct 2014 00:00:00 -0700
Granted, flat track racing isn’t our specialty at MO, but we’re no doubt fans of the action. See our coverage from the 2012 season finale for proof. The following is from an AMA Pro Racing press release:
A total of 15 races over eight months couldn’t separate Jared Mees and Bryan Smith by much.
The pair of Michigan riders have come to the season finale, the Flat Track Finals at the LA County Fairplex in Pomona, Calif., on Saturday, separated by just 13 points in the Grand National Championship Expert standings (260-247). Jake Johnson remains in the championship picture as well, as he sits three points behind Smith, but would need a little bad luck to befall his top two rivals for him to swoop in and claim the title in the season’s final moments.
Smith looked to be in control of the championship battle before his No. 42 Villa-Esparza/Crosley Radio Kawasaki began smoking and brought out a black flag at the Calistoga Half-Mile on Sept. 27. But Smith failed to pull into the pits and his second place finish was thrown out. Mees, on his No. 9 Rogers Racing Harley-Davidson was scored in second and retook the championship lead.
Mees’ lead means he has to finish second or better in the main event to clinch, but the situation is expected to change all day with points on the line in the Dash for Cash and for the fastest lap.
Fans can watch the championship battle play out live in high definition at FansChoice.tv.
Pomona hasn’t seen a repeat winner since Scott Parker in the 1990s. Since its return to the AMA Pro Flat Track schedule, four different riders, all on Harley-Davidsons, have taken the checkered flag. Mees and Smith, however, have never won at the LA County Fairplex.
Ramspur Winery’s Johnson, meanwhile, has won at Pomona, crossing the finish line first in 2011 to cap the second of the Pennsylvanian’s back-to-back GNC titles.
Brad Baker won in 2013 and left California with the No. 1 plate. Having won last time out, at the Calistoga Half-Mile, Baker’s confidence on his Factory Harley-Davidson is as high as it’s been all season.
Baker sits fifth in points behind Kenny Coolbeth and his No. 2 Zanotti Racing Harley-Davidson. Coolbeth is tied with Smith for the most wins this season and he’s been dominant at times. However, the 2012 winner at Pomona will not race Saturday due to injuries suffered in a crash at Calistoga.
Baker has reestablished himself at a perennial threat to podium after a slow start, no doubt attributed to a broken arm. Fully healthy and fully confident, Baker is one of just three GNC riders to finish inside the top 10 in the last nine races, joining Mees and Johnson.
Baker has amassed 183 points, 25 in back of Coolbeth for fourth.
Just three points in back of Baker and itching for a top five finish in the points is Henry Wiles. The pilot of the No. 17 Don’s Kawasaki used his sweep of the season’s two TT (Tourist Trophy) events to catapult himself up the standings. The Michigan resident is now riding a streak of six top 10s.
Sammy Halbert won the Dash for Cash at Calistoga on his No. 7 South East Harley-Davidson and took fourth in the main. He’s scored the fastest lap twice this year too. Currently seventh in points, Halbert is 15 in back of Wiles and the same amount in front of eighth place rider Brandon Robinson.
Robsinson has ridden his No. 44 USC Kawasaki to three straight top 10s.
Zanotti Racing’s Stevie Bonsey is ninth in points with 135 and Jake Shoemaker has climbed to tenth with 111 points on his No. 55 USC Kawasaki.
Racing begins with practice and qualifying at 3 p.m. PT (6 p.m. ET). Opening ceremonies are scheduled for 6:30 p.m. (9:30 p.m. ET) and the green flag should wave for the Pro Singles main event at 9 p.m. (midnight ET) and Expert main at 9:30 p.m. (12:30 a.m. ET).
For tickets and more information, visit www.FlatTrackFinals.com.
By Troy Siahaan
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