Mees closing in on Grand National Championship points lead with huge Lima Half-Mile win
NEWS July 1, 2014
Photo by Dave Hoenig
LIMA, Ohio (July 1, 2014) - Right before the halfway flags began to fly, it appeared that Sammy Halbert had the Lima Half-Mile Grand National Championship main event all but locked up on Saturday night, June 28, as he was thrashing the field by more than three full seconds aboard his South East Harley-Davidson. But then suddenly, on lap 12 of 25, disaster struck for Halbert when his motorcycle seemingly blew up as he was racing down the backstretch. The mishap caused the Graham, Wash. native to finish 16th after a nearly flawless start to the legendary race in front of a packed crowd at the Allen County Fairgrounds in Lima, Ohio.
One man's misfortune was another's treasure, however, as Jared Mees surpassed Halbert and eventually Bryan Smith to claim his third Lima-Half Mile win of his storied career.
"I got a great start and it feels great to get this win," said Mees. "I saw several guys up top on every turn but I decided to stick with my plan and stay low. I got a little better each time I went out and I felt I was finally perfect once the main event came around. I knew I wasn't going to get tired and that I just needed to get through it. It's just so great to have such a strong team behind me, I couldn't have accomplished this without all of their hard work."
Though this was just his first win of 2014, Mees has been rolling as of late. The 2012 Grand National Champion currently sits third in the points after finishing fifth or better in four out of his last five races aboard his Rogers Racing Harley-Davidson.
Brandon Robinson's second-place finish, mounted on his USC Kawasaki, was his best performance of the year. Starting from ninth on the grid, Robinson was able to maneuver his way through the field of riders after getting off to an outstanding start.
"It was an unreal race," said Robinson. "I usually struggle on cushion tracks but my team was working their butts off all night and we just kept plugging away. I couldn't believe it, I had no idea where I was on the track at the end and but to come away with a second-place finish is just awesome."
Bryan Smith was the immediate benefactor of Halbert's mid-race collapse as it was the Flint, Mich., native who grabbed the lead on lap 12. However, Smith's lead was short lived, and after four laps he had coughed it up for good. However, Smith managed to salvage a third place finish aboard his Crosley Radio/Villa Esparza Kawasaki and secure his second podium appearance of 2014.
"I was figuring I was going to finish second to Sammy but then I started seeing some smoke come out of his bike," said Smith. "I've been in his place before where I thought I had the race won and then the bike lets you down. Once he went out, I inherited the lead just for a second before throwing it away. I think the biggest reason for it was because my line really went away. I tried going down low and that was just horrible for me because I was just bouncing around and could barely hang onto my handle bars. Then came Jared (Mees) steady eddy as usual. He checked out on us. Then Robinson was there at the end. No excuses. Jared (Mees) definitely had us covered. I have to give him and his team big ups for that."
Fourth place finisher Kenny Coolbeth didn't help or hurt his chances of becoming the next Grand National Champion at the Lima Half-Mile aboard his Zanotti Racing Harley-Davidson. Coolbeth still retains in the points lead and a heavy favorite every time he takes to the track.
Fifth place finisher and Ramspur Winery Ducati pilot placed himself in a similar situation as Coolbeth last weekend. He didn't help his chances of moving up in the points by rounding out the top five finishers but he certainly didn't hurt his second-place ranking either.
Stevie Bonsey, mounted on his Zanotti Racing Harley-Davidson is in the midst of a career-best season. The young rider earned a sixth-place Lima Half-Mile finish and now has placed in the top ten in all but one race this year. Bonsey sits sixth in the overall points.
Robert Pearson finally broke into the top ten at Lima following his seventh place finish last weekend mounted on his Weirbach Racing Harley-Davidson.
In just his second full season in GNC competition, Jake Shoemaker is fairing well in the elite competition. Shoemaker's eight place finish aboard his Montgomeryville Cycle Center Kawasaki was his best performance of the year and the Glenmoore, Pa., product now sits 14th in points.
Female sensation Shayna Texter earned a career-best 12th place finish in a GNC race aboard her Latus Motors Triumph Bonneville at the Lima Half-Mile. Her effort makes it two straight weeks that the Willow Street, Pa., product has made a main event and it looks like she's starting to get a good grasp on the competition.
It appears as though Brad Baker is taking a decent amount of time getting used to his newly acquired Factory Harley-Davidson ride this season. Baker is off to arguably the worst start of his career, and his 17th place finish at the Allen County Fairgrounds last weekend didn't help. However, it's widely known that Baker is one of those guys who can simply strike at any moment. Look for the defending champion to regroup this coming weekend at Hagerstown Speedway in Hagerstown, Md., a track he's had plenty of previous success at over the years.
The stars of AMA Pro Flat Track will head to Hagerstown, Md., for the Hagerstown Half-Mile at Hagerstown Speedway on July 5, 2014. Footage of the Lima Half-Mile is available to view on AMA Pro Racing's YouTube portal at www.youtube.com/amaprovids.
How to Watch
FansChoice.tv will be the official home for live streaming coverage of AMA Pro Flat Track and AMA Pro Road Racing events in 2014. The site will also provide coverage of IMSA's development and single-make series, and NASCAR's touring and weekly series.
About AMA Pro Flat Track
AMA Pro Flat Track is a national motorcycle racing series in North America and is considered one of the oldest forms of motorcycle racing. Sanctioned by AMA Pro Racing, the Series is highly regarded as the most competitive form of dirt track racing in the world. The 2014 schedule consists of 16 rounds on the country's finest flat track courses. For more information on AMA Pro Flat Track, please visit www.amaproracing.com/ft.