AMA Pro Flat Track presented by J&P Cycles Recap: Pomona Half-Mile
NEWS October 17, 2013
Photo by Dave Hoenig
DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (October 17, 2013) - The way Brad Baker (Dodge Bros Racing/Harley-Davidson) threw his hands up in merriment as he stood atop the podium following his clutch win at the LA County Fairplex in Pomona, Calif. to close out the 2013 AMA Pro Flat Track presented by J&P Cycles season and earn the coveted AMA Pro Grand National Championship last weekend, it looked as if he had just reached the pinnacle of his career. However, the 20-year-old from Mead, Wash. appears to have only breached the surface of his talent and seemingly unlimited potential as a professional motorcycle racer in the world's most elite form of dirt track racing.
Baker's victory last weekend was his second on the season and the single-most important win of his young, yet already illustrious career. The former Saddlemen Rookie of the Year Award recipient has made nothing but huge strides since turning pro in 2009 and entering the Grand National Championship in 2011. Though Baker entered the 2013 season with an already impressive resume that included an AMA Pro J&P Cycles Pro Singles title in his debut 2009 season, he still set the bar high for himself this year as there were a few more accolades to be obtained.
Baker produced three consecutive bittersweet second-place main event results to open up the 2013 season and finally broke the win barrier at Hagerstown on July 6 when he earned his first career victory at the GNC Expert level. Baker didn't win again until the finale, when he rode his Harley-Davidson XR750 brilliantly to claim his first AMA Pro Grand National Championship and National No. 1 plate.
Altogether, Baker claimed two race wins and six podiums in 13 rounds -- finishing outside the top ten only once -- and in 2013, those numbers added up to #1. The young star will have the iconic number emblazoned on his motorcycle with pride in 2014.
After winning the coveted Grand National Championship crown, Baker said, "When I crossed the finish line for the final time it was almost a surreal feeling. To see the checkered flag and know that I had just won the championship was an incredible moment that I can't really explain."
When asked about his near incident between turns one and two early on, a potential wreck that almost cost him his shot at the title, Baker replied "I was just pushing hard out there. I never enter a race with aspirations of coming in second place. I go 100% every time out and have confidence in my ability to stay within myself and put up good results. Bryan (Smith) gave me a great run all day and the fact that the championship was on the line made it even more competitive. He's a great guy to race against because you know he's going to give you a clean strong effort as well."
Crosley Radio's Bryan Smith finished second in the overall GNC title chase but he did manage to lock up the AMA Pro Grand National Expert Twins Championship. Smith's second-place effort at Pomona was his seventh podium of the season and the Flint, Mich. product had one of his most impressive seasons to date.
Another rider who had an outside shot at overtaking Baker in the overall points was TJ Burnett Farms' Brandon Robinson. Robinson entered the weekend 15 points back after scorching the competition and completing the double with his back-to-back victories at Springfield. Robinson's late season heroics were halted at Pomona, however, as the Oxford, Pa. native never could get himself in position to threaten Baker in the main event. Robinson's ninth-place effort was enough, though, to salvage a career best third-place position in the final overall GNC point standings.
"It was a great opportunity for me to even have a shot at the championship going into the final race," said Robinson. "I struggled a little bit at Pomona but my team and I are definitely happy about the way things went this season. The great thing about it is that I'll be with the same team, TJ Burnett Farms, again next season so that will just be another year of chemistry that we'll have together as we try to roll over some momentum going into 2014."
Rod Lake Racing's Briar Bauman put together his finest performance of the season with a third-place effort at Pomona. Bauman closed out the podium mounted on the only Suzuki in the field.
Defending Grand National Champion Jared Mees (Rogers Racing/Harley-Davidson) finished fourth at Pomona and in the overall standings. Though Mees had a below-average season for his undoubtedly high standards, he did manage to rebound after early-season woes and a mid-season injury that cost him severe ground in the points. Mees finished with one win and four podiums in 2013 and will strive to improve on those results and compete for the overall GNC again next season.
All in all, five different makes of motorcycles made up the top ten in the finale at Pomona, magnifying the increased diversity of motorcycle brands competing for wins in 2013. Jake Johnson finished seventh on a Lloyd Brothers Motorsports Ducati while Johnny Lewis came in tenth place riding a Latus Motors Racing Triumph Bonneville.
AMA Pro J&P Cycles Pro Singles
One point. That was the difference between the AMA Pro J&P Cycles Pro Singles Championship falling on the east coast or landing out west. Mead, Wash.'s Wyatt Maguire (Kirkland racing/Yamaha) edged out archrival and Albion, N.Y. product Ryan Wells (Waters Auto Body/Honda) last weekend by a single point in the final standings to claim his first ever championship.
Maguire entered the final bout with a five-point cushion over Wells, a lead that looked to be safe for the majority of the evening until Maguire slipped from third on the grid to fourth with four laps remaining while Wells maintained a comfortable second-place position. Maguire would hold on to finish fourth and hang on to his lead in the points by a single marker, edging out a second-place finishing Wells on the AMA Pro J&P Cycles Pro Singles leaderboard 137-136.
Aside from the title fight between Maguire and Wells, the fastest man on the track in J&P Cycles Pro Singles competition last weekend was Bucyrus, Ohio's J.R. Addison. Addison (Parkinson Brothers Racing/Honda) led all but one lap in the main event and went on to record his best finish of his career, winning by 7.236 seconds over the field to close out the 2013 season.
Addison is most definitely a name to watch out for in 2014 as the 16-year-old is just getting started in what looks to be a promising career for the young gun. He finished 13th in the standings in his first season at the J&P Cycles Pro Singles level and is already looking to improve upon that in '14.
Fan favorite and Willow Street, Pa. native Shayna Texter put together a decent performance in the season's final event, coming in seventh on her No. 25A Crosley Radio/DFW Honda to close out the year. Texter had a stellar year as she finished fourth in the points despite missing two races in 2013.
What was most impressive about the 22-year-old female phenom this year is that her best performances came in AMA Pro Basic Twins competition, where she shredded the competition at Springfield, earning two landslide victories on a Kawasaki EX650. Texter's wins came in such dominating fashion that she left zero doubt in anyone's minds that she belongs at the most elite level of competition; and it's only a matter of time before she gets there.
Twin Lake, Mich. product and J&P Cycles Pro Singles rookie Kyle Johnson (Mike Raugh/Kawasaki) produced yet another podium result with a third-place finish last weekend at Pomona. Johnson proved to be one of the better stories of '13, as he catapulted onto the scene at Daytona with his first career victory in Race 1 and refused to let up on the throttle for the remainder of the season. Johnson captured four total podiums in 2013 and went on to finish fifth in the J&P Cycles Pro Singles point standings.
About AMA Pro Flat Track presented by J&P Cycles:
AMA Pro Flat Track presented by J&P Cycles is a national motorcycle racing series in North America. Sanctioned by AMA Pro Racing, the Series is one of the oldest forms of motorcycle racing and is highly regarded as the most competitive form of dirt track racing in the world. The 2013 schedule consists of rounds on the country's finest dirt track courses. For more information on AMA Pro Flat Track presented by J&P Cycles, please visit www.amaproracing.com/ft.