Steve Rapp Wins Vance & Hines Harley-Davidson Series Race at Miller Motorsports Park for Round 6 of GEICO Motorcycle AMA Pro Road Racing
NEWS August 10, 2013
Photo by Brian J Nelson
DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (August 10, 2013) - The Miller Motorsports Park round of the 2013 GEICO Motorcycle AMA Pro Road Racing season marked the final opportunity for this year's crop of AMA Pro Vance & Hines Harley-Davidson Series contenders to earn a slot as one of the ten qualifiers for the four-race shootout that will determine this year's champion.
While the season's established front-runners -- Aerostar Global/Suburban Harley-Davison's Steve Rapp, Spyke's defending class champion Michael Barnes, and Eco Fuel Saver/Scrubblade's Tyler O'Hara -- were already well positioned for the upcoming title chase, they still came to Utah ready to fight.
With pride and prize-money on the line, Rapp, O'Hara, and Barnes again dominated the proceedings, locking down the three positions on the podium.
In the end, Rapp outlasted a determined challenge from '12 MMP victor O'Hara to secure his fourth consecutive AMA Pro Vance & Hines Harley-Davidson Series race win. That streak arguably makes him the odds-on favorite heading into the XR Showdown despite the fact that the top ten riders will all start off on equal points, reset at 1000 for each of the ten qualifiers.
Rapp said, "It feels great. I wasn't even sure if I was going to make this race, and thanks to all the guys at Suburban Harley-Davidson and Aerostar Global I'm here and they gave me an awesome bike…It's just a good feeling; no matter what you run on it's always fun winning. I'm having a great time and there's a lot less pressure and stress than I used to have. It's fun coming to the races again."
O'Hara provided the on-form Rapp with a serious challenge, but one little mishap was all the veteran needed to make his break.
O'Hara explained, "Going into the first left on the Attitudes I was leaned over and hit the cases. It just about threw me to the moon but I saved it. He gapped me there with three laps to go."
While Rapp continued his winning ways, O'Hara was encouraged by his Miller Motorsports Park performance and is justifiably optimistic heading into the XR Showdown. He said, "We keep moving up on the box. We've been consistent and we're making progress. My whole team is working their butts off. These Harleys are a lot of work, just to keep them on the track. We're feeling good and now it's time for the chase. We're really excited about that. These are some of my really solid tracks coming up and I think it's going to be a really good end to the year."
Barnes, who missed out on Saturday's qualifying session after suffering a massive (and painful) highside on his out lap, finished a distant third.
After the race, the champ said, "We just missed out a little bit on the set-up and I'm kind of beat up from (Saturday). We'll just regroup and get ready for Indy."
Despite sporting the #1 plate, in many ways Barnes has continued in his perennial role as the scrappy underdog. He's been forced to change teams midseason (as he also did in '12) and work overtime just to make each successive race. However, as difficult as it's been at times, Barnes only needs to get hot now, the same way he did last season, to successfully defend his crown.
Barnes said, "We're just waiting for everything to click as far as the bike. I've had a lot of struggles between last year and this year, as far as jumping on different bikes, financial, etc., etc. It's just hard to make the races right now. I was hoping to win one, mainly for money so it would make things easier going into the chase. We're just going to try to put together as many resources as I can ahead of Indy.
"Hopefully Indy will be a bit more rewarding to help us get through the final two races. I haven't been notoriously strong at Indy, but I have been very consistent there. With our new suspension, I already feel some big improvements and I think it's going to work better at Indy. The more and more time I have at Indy, I think I keep getting stronger. New Jersey we were strong, and Laguna is going to be Laguna. Because we haven't been there (on the XRs) that's probably going to be the coolest part of the end of the year. Kind of like NOLA was last year -- no one had an advantage. We're just going to attack it and go to Indy and do the best we can."
Unlike the top three, a handful of runners in qualifying positions elected to sit out the Miller Motorsports Park round and gamble on the fact that they had already collected enough points to earn them a slot.
Harv's Harley-Davidson's Travis Wyman and Suburban Harley-Davison's Ben Carlson escaped unscathed. Longevity Racing's Barrett Long did so as well, although it was a close call for Long, who slipped from sixth to tenth in the final pre-Showdown tally.
ChiliPepper Racing's Ricky Parker was not so fortune, slipping from ninth to outside the top ten. Parker's loss was Thrashed Bike Racing's David Estok's gain, who battled from eleventh to eighth with an excellent fifth-place result at MMP.
The Miller Motorsports Park round was a heartbreaker for some riders working hard to fight their way in as well.
Fernet Insurance's Eric Stump qualified on the front row and was holding out hope of leaping all the way up from 17th and into the top ten. Unfortunately, he crashed out on the final lap while scraping with Folsom Harley-Davidson's Gage McAllister for fourth position. However, even if he had managed to claim fourth, he would have still fallen a point short of earning a slot in the XR Showdown.
Meanwhile, Happy Trails M/C Connection's Hayden Schultz, who qualified fifth, crashed out while racing up front on the race's opening lap. Had he finished fourth, he would have successfully climbed up from 15th and into the top ten.
Deely Racing's Darren James came into the weekend in 14th position. He put in a strong sixth-place ride on Sunday but still fell two points short of clawing his way in.
Now that the top ten is set, it's a whole new season for those battling in the $60,000 XR Showdown. The XR Showdown will kick off a week from now as the AMA Pro Vance & Hines Harley-Davidson Series will join the MotoGP World Championship at the Red Bull Indianapolis GP on August 16-18 for a vitally important doubleheader event.
2013 XR Showdown Qualifiers
Steve Rapp (No. 5 Aerostar Global/Suburban Harley-Davison)
Tyler O'Hara (No. 29 Eco Fuel Saver/Scrubblade)
Michael Barnes (No. 1 Spyke's Harley-Davidson)
Travis Wyman (No. 24 Harv's Harley-Davidson)
Ben Carlson (No. 45 Suburban Harley-Davison)
Shane Narbonne (No. 46 Mob Racing)
Nicholas Hansen (No. 97 H&S Distributors)
David Estok (No. 123 Thrashed Bike Racing)
Josh Chisum (No. 10 Eco Fuel Saver/Scrubblade)
Barrett Long (No. 2 Longevity Racing) (6th to 10th)
The 2013 GEICO Motorcycle AMA Pro Road Racing season will resume next week as the series travels to Indianapolis Motor Speedway in Indianapolis, Indiana for Round 7 on August 16-18. For tickets and additional information, please visit http://secure.brickyard.com/Tickets/RedBullIndianapolisGP.aspx.
About GEICO Motorcycle AMA Pro Road Racing
GEICO Motorcycle AMA Pro Road Racing is the premier motorcycle road racing series in North America and is universally regarded as one of the most competitive road racing organizations in the world. The 2013 schedule consists of nine rounds of competition on the country's finest road courses. The Series is comprised of four production-based classes: AMA Pro National Guard SuperBike, AMA Pro GoPro Daytona SportBike, AMA Pro Motorcycle-Superstore.com SuperSport and the AMA Pro Vance & Hines Harley-Davidson Series. Learn more about GEICO Motorcycle AMA Pro Road Racing at www.amaproracing.com/rr/.
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