Jared Mees claims Grand National Championship points lead with Grays Harbor Half-Mile victory
NEWS July 22, 2014
Photo by Dave Hoenig
ELMA, Wash. (July 22, 2014) - Three Northeast riders stacked a Pacific Northwest podium at Grays Harbor Raceway in last weekend's AMA Pro Flat Track Grand National Championship main event in Elma, Wash. Third place finisher Jake Johnson (originally from New Jersey), runner-up Bryan Smith (Michigan) and winner Jared Mees (originally from Pennsylvania) all conducted stellar performances despite being thousands of miles from home.
Mees' Grays Harbor Half-Mile victory was his second of the season aboard his Rogers Racing Harley Davidson and 15th overall throughout the course of his career. The 2012 Grand National Champion now sits atop the overall standings, five points ahead of Smith.
"I had a great start and was just kind of picking them back," said Mees. "I caught Jake (Johnson) and then caught up to Kenny (Coolbeth). I capitalized on a mistake he made and got by him. I then was approaching Bryan (Smith) when I got a great run on him and passed right by on my Harley-Davidson. We missed our set up in the Dash for Cash but we were able to come back and make some changes for the main and it looks like we got it right."
Smith came in second in the race and now sits second in the points. The Villa-Esparza/Crosley Radio rider has been extremely efficient on half-mile tracks in 2014 and is in a hot contest for the overall championship with nine races remaining.
"I led a bunch of laps so it would have been good to bring it home up front but this isn't really my favorite kind of surface so I feel all right coming out with a second," said Smith. "I got a little loose, not sure if it was the tire or me just getting excited, and then here came Jared (Mees). You can never count him out, I've seen him do some pretty special things on the track."
Ramspur Winery rider Jake Johnson, mounted on a Harley-Davidson, started from fourth on the grid to close out the podium with a third place finish. Johnson now sits third in the overall point standings and the two-time champion is well on his way to his strongest season since 2011.
Sammy Halbert's fourth place finish surely had to leave an unpleasant taste in the Graham, Wash., native's mouth for several reasons. For the second time this season, the South East Harley-Davidson rider had a stronghold on the lead before coughing it up when the pressure started to mount. Halbert's homecoming was ruined when he pulled up on lap nine and fell all the way back to fourth place by the time the checkered flag had dropped.
Kenny Coolbeth finished fifth aboard his Zanotti Racing Harley-Davidson. Coolbeth's top five finish has to be somewhat of a confidence boost for the seasoned veteran as he finished 19th a week ago at Hagerstown. Coolbeth now sits fourth in the points and it certainly still a threat to pull off the championship as there are plenty of rounds remaining.
Brad Baker's sixth-place finish aboard his Factory Harley-Davidson at Grays Harbor Raceway last weekend is tied for his second-best performance of the 2014 season, as he finished fifth at the Springfield Mile in May.
AMA Pro Flat Track Pro Singles
Jarod Vanderkooi's .970-second win aboard his Johnny's Vintage Motorcycle Honda was his first victory in AMA Pro Flat Track Pro singles competition.
"The key to doing well on this track is getting the holeshot and that's what I did," said Vanderkooi. "My team was working on the bike all day and it was just amazing to get this win. I have to thank my team, the promoter for putting the race on and the fans for coming out."
Vanderkooi now sits eighth in the points following his Grays Harbor Half-Mile win and will look to build off his momentum this weekend at Sacramento and holds a share of the points lead with Kyle Johnson.
Second-place finisher Davis Fisher started from fifth on the grid to come away with his third runner-up performance of the season aboard his T.J. Burnett Farms Honda.
"I didn't get a very good start," said Fisher. "I thought I had a lot of work ahead of me but I started working my way through the pack. We struggled throughout the day but eventually got it right at the end."
Ryan Wells sits just one point behind Johnson and Fisher and his third place finish at Grays Harbor didn't do anything to hurt his chances of becoming the next AMA Pro Flat Track Pro Singles Champion.
"I knew I was going to have my hands full right from the get go," said Wells. "I missed the front row in the main by one position but I just kept charging."
Johnson has run consistent all season and his fourth place finish aboard his Parkinson Brothers Racing Honda was the first race he hasn't won since the season opener at Daytona.
The stars of AMA Pro Flat Track will head to Sacramento, Calif., and the Cal Expo on July 26, 2014. Footage of the Grays Harbor 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.