Halbert Takes the Win at Opening Daytona Short Track Round
NEWS March 11, 2011
DAYTONA BEACH, FL (March 10) - Graham, Washington’s Sammy Halbert won the opening round of the AMA Pro Harley-Davidson Insurance Flat Track Championship, taking victory on Daytona International Speedway's challenging Daytona Flat Track quarter-mile.
“Wow what a race," said Halbert, after leading the final five laps on his Woody Kyle Racing/Fredericktown Yamaha-backed YZ 450F. "I didn’t get that good of a start and kind of had to come from behind. I got hung up behind Johnny [Lewis], and Jake [Johnson] was getting away, but after I was able to get into second I just put my head down and went after Jake.”
Defending Grand National Champion #1 Jake Johnson had nailed the hole shot on his Zanotti Racing Honda and looked to be on cruise control as he led the first 20 laps of the 25-lap main event.
The lead trio of Johnson, Scotts Powersports/Triple J Racing’s Lewis, and Halbert eased away from a two-rider war over fourth between defending Expert Singles Champion Henry Wiles (Monster Energy Kawasaki/Don’s Kawasaki) and the Silkolene/EBC Brakes-backed Brad Baker, who was contending his first Grand National as full-blown Expert.
Mid-pack action was fierce, as the large group of riders filled the turns, exchanging places through out the entire race. As the laps wore down, all attention was focused on the leaders and the lapped traffic they were approaching. Lap eighteen saw Halbert in the lead, but Johnson was quick to retaliate. Halbert wasn’t able to take the lead for good until lap 22, when he dove under Johnson as they exited Turn 2.
Johnson’s troubles were far from over, as Lewis was also able to power by on lap 24. “I finished third last year in the opener and won night two, so we’re right on track,” promised Johnson from the podium.
Baker turned in his best Grand National finish with a fourth, followed by Raun Wood (Scott Powersports/Baer Racing Products), Matt Weidman (Matt’s Racing/SNIP), Kenny Coolbeth (Chaplin Kawasaki/Spectro Oils), Jimmy Wood (Race Tech/Southland Racing), Jared Mees (Montgomery Cycle Center/Lucas Oils) and Aaron King (Toad’s Racing/Bob Weirbach Racing).
Earlier in the night Halbert had supersized his evening points total by winning the Cometic Gaskets Dash for Cash. It became a two-lap dash when Lewis fell in Turn 1, bringing out the red flag. Halbert was able to pick up where he left off, however, and ultimately led Johnson and Wiles to the podium, picking up 5 points and Cometic cash along the way.
The first main event of the night featured the Motorcycle-Superstore.com Pro Singles, which was dominated by the Honda-mounted Mikey Avila, who led the last 16 laps on the way to his first Pro Singles main event win. Full Throttle/Gillespie Small Engines-backed Gerit Callies was a closing second at the checkered flag, with Austin Greenland (Scotts Powersports/Greenland and Son Masonry) finishing a solid third.
AMA Pro Harley-Davidson Insurance Flat Track action returns tonight with opening ceremonies beginning at 7:30 p.m. For more information about the series, visit www.amaproracing.com.