Halbert Repeats with Thrilling AMA Pro Flat Track Win in Lima Half-Mile National
NEWS July 1, 2012
Photo by Yve Assad (The Fast and Dirty)
LIMA, Ohio (July 1, 2012) - Round five of the AMA Pro Harley-Davidson Insurance Grand National Championship presented by Motorcycle-Superstore.com and Lucas Oil gave the large crowd in attendance for the AMA Pro Flat Track Lima Half-Mile National a little bit of everything.
Typical Lima heat combined with a quick sprinkle after qualifying got riders primed for a great night of racing. When the checkered flag fell on the 25-lap national it was South East Harley-Davidson's Sammy Halbert on top, but it was far from easy.
"I didn't get a very good start and was about fifth or sixth and wasn't gaining anything," Halbert said. "Then Jared (Mees) went around me on the outside and I thought 'Well, I guess I better try that.' I just went higher and higher until I found my line."
While Halbert was looking for his "line," Jake Johnson (Zanotti Racing / Schaeffer's Harley-Davidson) and Johnny Lewis (Scott Powersports) were having a great race for the lead. Johnson got the hole shot and led the first four laps before Lewis pushed his Kawasaki into the lead. The two battled back and forth until lap 11 when Halbert blasted by both and looked to be running away.
All the while Henry Wiles, who had been sent to the penalty line when he jumped the start on his Lloyd Brothers Motorsports / Foremost Insurance backed Ducati, was clawing his way to the front. On lap 16, Wiles dispatched Mees (Rogers Racing / Blue Springs Harley-Davidson), who had been battling with Lewis over third.
By lap 19, Wiles was in second and in hot pursuit of Halbert, but it appeared Halbert's lead was insurmountable. Then on lap 20, the red lights were flashing as Brandon Robinson had pitched away his Werner-Springsteen Racing Kawasaki in turn four.
This resulted in a five-lap dash for the win, now with Wiles starting right on Halbert's flank. This time, Halbert got a great start and Wiles was once again left to run the defending Lima champion down. The two exchanged the lead several times, but Halbert officially led all five laps, including the last.
Johnson held onto third over Mees and Lewis. Mees climbed six positions from his starting position to finish fourth and claim the night's MotoBatt Hard Charger Award, a cash award presented to the rider who advances the most positions during each expert main event.
Kiesow Racing / Hall's Cycle's Jeffery Carver had a great ride as he finished just in front of fellow Illinoisan Rob Pearson (Memphis Shades) and Bryan Smith (Moroney's Harley-Davidson). Saddlemen Rookie of the Year points leader Briar Bauman (Rod Lake Racing / USC Kawasaki) and Deeley Harley-Davidson's Don Taylor rounded out the top ten.
There were many hard luck riders on the night, none bigger than last year's second-place finisher. Matt Weidman (Greg Crow Racing / White's Harley-Davidson) posted a lap time good enough for fastest time of the night in the first round of practice, but had a big get off in round two. Weidman was transported with shoulder and ankle injuries. Harley-Davidson Motor Company's Kenny Coolbeth tweaked his leg on the first lap of the national, ending his night. All the promise of Brad Baker's first night on the Columbia Avionics / Mark Cheza Harley-Davidson came to an end on lap two when the third-fastest qualifier dropped out.
The AMA Pro Harley-Davidson Insurance Grand National Championship presented by Motorcycle-Superstore.com and Lucas Oil points standings still have Jared Mees on top, but Jake Johnson is now only 11 points back. Johnny Lewis is only one behind Johnson, while Sammy Halbert is sixteen off the pace. Matt Weidman and Henry Wiles are tied for fifth 29 points back.
The AMA Pro Motorcycle-Superstore.com Pro Singles main was just as competitive, as Western Hills Honda's Zakk Palmer came from behind to repeat his Lima win from last year. Palmer worked his way up from fifth to take the lead on lap five as he blasted past early leader Jordan McCready (Parkinson Brothers Racing) and Weirbach Racing's Ryan Wells. Also making strong charges were Kris Myers Farm's Benjamin Myers and Jacob Constantine. Myers' second position finish came in his first national race while Constantine posted his first podium finish as well.
Motorcycle-Superstore.com Pro Singles points leader Gerit Callies (Fun Mart Cycles) brought his KTM home in 12th, but that was good enough to retain his lead by two over Ryan Wells. Jason Isennock (High Dairy Stores), Palmer and Jake Cunningham (Schiller's Tree Service) are all in a tight fight over third.
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