Johnson Takes Home AMA Pro Harley-Davidson Insurance Grand National Championship No. 1 Plate After Pomona Win
NEWS October 16, 2011
Photo by Dave Hoenig
POMONA, Ca. (October 16, 2011) – Jake Johnson took home the coveted AMA Pro Flat Track Harley-Davidson Insurance Grand National Championship presented by Motorcycle-Superstore.com No. 1 plate Saturday night with a commanding win at the AMA Pro Flat Track Season Finale, which took place on the big cushion half-mile at the LA County Fairplex in Pomona, Ca.
In the weeks leading up to the culmination of the 2011 AMA Pro Harley-Davidson Insurance Grand National Championship, calculators were buzzing as everyone tried to analyze what combinations of finishes by the top three were needed for the Championship.
Defending Grand National Champion Johnson made all the calculations moot, however, as he was nearly perfect on his Zanotti Racing / Schaeffer’s Harley-Davidson backed XR-750. Johnson survived two restarts and overtime in the National main event as he led every lap, most by a healthy margin.
“I just had great starts all night and tried to ride smart,” Johnson said. “It was coming down to the end and I had a good lead but was making some mistakes. After I saw the five to go sign, I started to countdown, four, three, two and then another red flag. I thought ‘Uh-oh, another five lap shoot out.’ I just tried to stay calm and everything worked out.”
At the end of what became a 26-lap race, Johnson held almost a two second lead over Lloyd Brothers Motorsports / Team Hurt By Accident’s Brad Baker. Baker’s career-high second place finish all but guaranteed the 2011 Saddlemen Rookie of the Year award.
Heading into the event third place in the point standings and hoping to improve, Kings Kustoms / White’s Harley-Davidson’s Sammy Halbert fought to the end with Baker for second but the rookie was able to hang on and with his third-place finish in the main, Halbert came up one point behind Rogers Lake Racing / Blue Springs Harley-Davidson’s Jared Mees, who struggled most of the night.
Mees ended the night behind the Scott Powersports Kawasaki of Johnny Lewis, but that was just good enough to hold on to second in the overall point standings and win the AMA Pro Twins National Championship.
After holding Halbert off in the first heat, Johnson threw down the gauntlet by winning the four-lap Dash for Cash and claiming the five points that went with it. Halbert and Mees minimized the damage by finishing second and third, but the tone was set.
After winning the fastest heat, it looked like defending Pomona winner Henry Wiles might be able to take the spotlight away from the title chase, but it was not to be, as he was responsible for the last red flag on lap 22. Wiles was able to restart from the back and worked his way up to a 10th place finish.
Rob Pearson was back aboard the USC Kawasaki, and the screamer brought home a solid sixth position. American Motorcyclist Association / Classic Harley-Davidson’s Chris Carr brought his illustrious career to an end with a seventh place finish over Matt Weidman (White’s Harley-Davidson / SNIP) and Harley-Davidson Motor Company’s Kenny Coolbeth.
Johnson finished with a sixteen point lead over Mees, 386-370, with Halbert just one more back at 369.
The AMA Pro Motorcycle-Superstore.com Pro Singles main belonged to late season sensation Briar Bauman (Rod Lake Racing / Brown’s Cycles) as he also overcame several restarts to grab his third win of the year. Title contender Mikey Avila (SDI Insulation / MEH Corp) took second place and Foard Racing / Glenville Inn backed Jason Isennock filled out the podium.
Weirbach Racing’s Mikey Martin was able to do just enough to take home the 2011 Pro Singles Championship with a sixth place finish behind fourth-place finisher Rod Spencer Jr. (Hooper Motorsports / Rod Lake Racing) and fifth-place finisher Stephen Vanderkuur (DFW Honda / D&D Exhaust).
Martin finished the long year with three wins and an eight point bulge on Avila, 316-308, with Gerit Callies another 17 back at 291.
Avila (SDI Insulation / Dickel Racing) and Callies (Water’s Autobody) took advantage of provisional starts as Experts and qualified for their career debuts in Grand National Main Events.