Bonsey Roars to Top of Podium in AMA Pro Flat Track's Return to Tucson International Raceway
NEWS October 10, 2012
Photo by Dave Hoenig
DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (October 10, 2012) - The AMA Pro Harley-Davidson Insurance Grand National Championship presented by Motorcycle-Superstore.com and Lucas Oil ventured to Arizona for the first time since 2010.
The high banked, clay 3/8 mile oval of the Tucson International Raceway, the penultimate round of the 2012 season. The quick little track had last hosted a Grand National race in 2007 and proved to be quite a challenge for the AMA Pro stars.
Even with all the hype over a very tight, three rider, points battle going on it was Stevie Bonsey who stole the show with a near perfect night. Goodwin Racing backed, Bonsey posted the fastest heat race time, edged Sammy Halbert in the Dash and led all 25-laps of the Grand National Main.
"It is weekends like this that I come out and have fun and relax and it falls together for me," said Bonsey. "I think it is good for me to win one late in the season. That gives me something to look forward to next year knowing that I still have it. I just need a good program and some wheels under me to make it happen for next year."
The 25-lap National saw Defending Grand National Champion Jake Johnson (Zanotti Racing / Schaeffer's Harley-Davidson) lead the field into turn one, but it was short lived. "I got the hole shot and got out front," said Johnson. "I led about a half a lap and hit a hole and about came off the side of it. That was about it."
Bonsey was right there to take advantage as he, Bryan Smith (Moroney's Harley-Davidson / fasthog.com) and Sammy Halbert (South East Harley-Davidson) all blasted by.
Smith and Bonsey battled over the lead with Bonsey glued to the bottom and Smith rolling the top. Smith hooked a hole entering turn one and his focus quickly changed. "I decided I better back her down a notch," said Smith. "I caught my foot and I ran wide. I just about went down and decided I better back it down. It is hard when you are that close to a lead to just back it down."
Halbert lost contact with the leaders and slipped into the clutches of Jared Mees (Rogers Racing / Blue Springs Harley-Davidson). "I was giving it my all. Earlier in the race when I was really trying I spun my tire up a bit and hooked a bump," said Halbert. "It about knocked me off my seat. I almost crashed about three times, I had to just do what I could to try to keep it on two wheels. I don't think, that maybe, I quite nailed the setup or whatever. It was just a tough track to ride."
Bonsey cruised as the laps wore on, riding a near flawless race, stretching his lead to 1.172 seconds over Smith.
The win was the second of Bonsey's short career. "It wasn't a fluke. From practice on, I was running on the bottom," said Bonsey. "In the heat race I went really low and found something down there to win my heat race. I stuck down there for the Dash for Cash and won that too. I watched the semis and I was watching Henry (Wiles) and a couple guys run up higher. It was working pretty well and it was making me nervous. I was hoping that my line was not going away down there. I had been gearing up for that all day. In the main event I just got the hole shot and stayed down there. It worked. I put every lap together and hit my markers and stayed smooth."
In the final laps, Smith's second place finish was put into jeopardy by another late race charge by Halbert, much like he had done for the win last week. "It was almost like déjà vu reeling in Bryan," said Halbert. "I was pretty confident that I was going to get him because I caught him from a good ways back. I was passing there going into the final turn and should have held a tighter line. He just got me at the line. I thought I had second and he just got me at the line."
Jared Mees was content to keep his title rival (Halbert) in sight, finishing a lonely fourth two seconds back. With all the Championship contenders clamoring for the all important points, Johnson's slip was the most painful. Johnson slipped to sixth, just a thousandth of a second behind Brad Baker (Dodge Brothers Racing).
Fast qualifier, Rob Pearson (Memphis Shades / Bumpus Harley-Davidson) topped a great race for seventh over Henry Wiles (Foremost Insurance / ENI / Lloyd Brothers Motorsports), Doug Lawrence (R&J Racing / CVC Communications), Matt Weidman (Scott Powersports), Kenny Coolbeth (Screamin' Eagle Harley-Davidson Motor Company), Brandon Robinson (Werner-Springsteen Racing / Kawasaki), Mikey Martin (Bonneville Powersports) and Jethro Halbert (USC Racing / Hart Racing) as all finish within a two second window.
Bryan Smith earned the night's MotoBatt "Hard Charger Award" by improving his position the most throughout the main event.
Sunoco "Go the Distance" Award Update
1. Jared Mees - 448.8 mi.
2. Jake Johnson - 432.64 mi.
3. Jeffrey Carver Jr. - 430.08 mi.
4. Bryan Smith - 428.89 mi.
Saddlemen "Rookie of the Year" Update
Briar Bauman - 103
Mikey Martin - 36
Mikey Avila - 21