Halbert Hangs Tough to Capture Win in Jam Packed Santa Rosa Mile

NEWS October 3, 2012


Halbert Hangs Tough to Capture Win in Jam Packed Santa Rosa Mile

Photo by Dave Hoenig

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (October 4, 2012) - The roar of big bore motorcycle racing returned to the Sonoma County Fairgrounds for the first time in 42 years. The Circle Bell / Bob Bellino team hosted round 14 of the AMA Pro Harley-Davidson Insurance Grand National Championship presented by Motorcycle-Superstore.com and Lucas Oil on the mile oval in Santa Rosa, deep in California's wine country.
  
A near capacity crowd witnessed a rough and tumble cushion mile, although there were few fall downs the track was definitely challenging with long straights and tight turns.
  
When the 25-lap National scrambled into turn one it was Bryan Smith and his Crosley Radio / Howerton Motorsports backed Kawasaki going straight to the hay bales leaving the other 18 riders to fight over second.
  
Smith had been dominant all day and it appeared he was going to easily take his third win of the year, pulling to a five-second lead. At least one person was not convinced, Sammy Halbert (South East Harley-Davidson).
  
"On the first lap or two I was trying the bottom then I was just moved to the top to make that work. I went back to the top but there was a pretty big gap to him (Smith)," said Halbert. "I thought it looked like it was second for me. I was just doing my best around the top."
  
As the laps wore down Smith's lead began to erode. "The top was going away as fast as the groove was coming in. That is kind of the downfall of leading you don't know what's going on," said Smith. "When you are in the back coming, you can kind of gauge everybody. I looked back once and had a good lead. I looked back again and they were right there passing me."
  
"I passed him one time but he shot back by me," said Halbert. "I knew I had to find a line significantly better to beat him. I tried the bottom early on and lost a ton of time. I kept checking behind me and the guys eventually started catching me. When they got close enough I could see the pack behind me were all down on the groove on the bottom. I changed up my line and went to the bottom of the track. It took me a few laps to get that figured out. You had to be really easy on the throttle instead of whacking it like I was on the top."
  
After taking the point on lap 20, Halbert was able to pull away from Smith, but current points leader Jared Mees (Rogers Racing / Blue Springs Harley-Davidson) was slicing his way to the front after starting the race from row three. "I just never gave up. The track definitely came to me," said Mees. "I didn't even know where I was until about five or six laps to go. I thought, 'Man I'm damn near in the lead.' It would have been nice to see that groove come in quicker."
  
"I didn't have trouble staying on the groove," added Mees. "That's my cup of tea, the groove stuff. Anytime I see that black notch coming I get excited." Mees was able to grab second on lap 21 and closed to finish just .874 seconds behind Halbert.
  
"I still thought I had something. I thought 'Okay, I can ride the groove,'" said Smith. "I dove down there and followed Jared into three and kind of got sucked in there a little bit and blew the groove. He gapped me and that was it. I couldn't make up that difference even riding the groove. They were both down low on that little bit of rubber. It wasn't a Springfield groove."
  
Also moving his way to the front was defending Grand National Champion Jake Johnson (Zanotti Racing / Schaeffer's Harley-Davidson). "I got a good start and went right up to fourth or fifth right off the start. I was hanging tough. All of a sudden I started dropping back," said Johnson. "I think (Briar) Bauman got by. (Rob) Pearson got by and dropped me back to sixth or seventh. I had a couple close encounters with the airfence, I couldn't see much. I ran a few laps down around the bottom. It didn't feel like I was going very fast, but I was making up time."
  
Memphis Shades / Bumpus Harley-Davidson's Rob Pearson clawed his way up to his best ever mile track finish, a fifth. "I knew we had a good setup," said Pearson. "I went out for the main event and didn't get a great start. I ate dust the whole time, but I was trying to pick away. In the cushion my bike worked really well. I was thinking it was getting slicker and slicker and finally sure enough Jake and Jared went by me at the same time. I moved back down and as I was going to get by Henry I went into to three and four and blew the groove. I swear it was like 20 bikes lengths in one corner. I chased him back down and got back by him. I was trying to set my sights on Jake, but I was wondering if I should run it in under him or what. It was pretty much like ice skating in the corner."
  
Henry Wiles (Foremost Insurance / ENI), Brad Baker (Dodge Brothers Racing), Kenny Coolbeth (Screamin' Eagle Harley-Davidson motor Company), Jeffrey carver (Kiesow Racing / Carver's BBQ) and Briar Bauman (Rod Lake Racing / Brown's Cycle) rounded out the top ten. 

Baker earned the event's MotoBatt "Hard Charger" award by improving his position the most throughout the main event.
  
The four lap Dash for Cash was a definite preview of the Grand National as Sammy Halbert ran down Bryan Smith and picked up the five bonus points along with the $1000 check. Fortunately for Halbert, his points competition, Jared Mees and Jake Johnson, both failed to qualify for the Dash. The near perfect day (Halbert failed to get the bonus point for most laps led) allowed Halbert to move back into second place in the AMA Pro Harley-Davidson Insurance Grand National Championship points race. Jared Mees maintains a 14 point lead with two races remaining. Defending Grand national champion, Jake Johnson drops to third two points behind Halbert. "We lost a few points. I think we are down to like 16 points. We've got our work cut out," said Johnson. "I think leaving Brainerd last year with 2 races to go, I was down 18 points. We're going to need a little bit of luck, but we're still in it." 

Santa Rosa Mile Race Results


1

Sammy Halbert

South East Harley

25 Laps

2

Jared Mees

Rogers racing ·Blue springs H-D 

0.874

3

Bryan Smith

Crosley Radio ·Howerton Motorsports 

3.726

4

Jake Johnson

Zanotti Racing ·Schaeffer`s H-D 

3.79

5

Robert Pearson

Eaken Racing ·Memphis Shades

4.121

6

Henry Wiles

Foremost Insurance ·ENI

9.721

7

Brad Baker

Dodge Bros Racing ·Perry`s H-D

9.763

8

Kenny Coolbeth, Jr.

Screaming Eagle Harley-Davidson

13.288

9

Jeffrey Carver Jr.

Kiewsow Racing ·Carver`s BBQ

13.38

10

Briar Bauman

Rod Lake Racing ·USC Racing

16.212

11

Nichole Cheza

Global Products ·Harley-Davidson

17.786

12

Doug Lawrence

R&J Racing ·CVC Communications Agency

25.304

13

Kayl Kolkman

Wieblers H-D ·Roy`s Taco House 

29.415

14

Steven Bonsey

Goodwin Racing, RGR 

31.293

15

Michael Martin

Bonneville Performance ·Triumph 

24 Laps

16

Brandon Robinson

Werner ·Springsteen

20 Laps

17

Brandan Bergen

Reimans Harley-Davidson

15 Laps

18

Matt Weidman

Scotts Powersports ·Saddlemen 

12 Laps

19

Michael Avila

SDI ·Bisha Racing ·Alpinestars

3 Laps

AMA Pro Harley-Davidson Insurance GNC Points Standings


1

Jared Mees

262

2

Sammy Halbert

248

3

Jake Johnson

246

4

Bryan Smith

193

5

Henry Wiles

156

6

Brad Baker

156

7

Jeffrey Carver Jr.

136

8

Kenny Coolbeth, Jr.

124

9

Matt Weidman

115

10

Brandon Robinson

103

Sunoco "Go the Distance" Award Update 
1. Jeffrey Carver Jr. - 426.08 mi.
2. Jared Mees - 424.3 mi.
3. Jake Johnson - 408.14 mi.
4. Bryan Smith - 405.39 mi.

Saddlemen "Rookie of the Year" Update
Briar Bauman - 103
Mikey Martin - 30 
Mikey Avila - 21


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