CHARLOTTE, NC – August 31, 2015 – (Motor Sports Newswire) – Things got very interesting Saturday night at the Don Tilley Memorial Charlotte Half-Mile, Round 10 of the 2015 AMA Pro Flat Track season, as Bryan Smith put together an extraordinary performance to earn his fourth Harley-Davidson GNC1 presented by Vance & Hines main event victory of the season.
Dave Hoenig photo
Smith’s victory is compelling on many levels, as Harley-Davidson GNC1 presented by Vance & Hines points leader Jared Mees suffered a costly bike malfunction on the final lap as he was challenging Smith for the lead. The incident forced Mees from the race and left him watching in disgust as he witnessed his rival cross the finish line and swipe the elusive checkered flag.
Kenny Coolbeth was next in line after Mees went down at the beginning of lap 25, and the No. 2 Zanotti Racing Harley-Davidson pilot claimed his second runner-up finish in the last three rounds. Coolbeth’s second-place finish was a nice rebound after his struggles last round at the Peoria TT, and the three-time Grand National Champion now sits fourth in the point standings.
“That was some intense racing,” said Smith. “That’s about as fast as a motorcycle can go on a Half-Mile and I’m glad we could put on a great race for all of these Charlotte fans. That was everything my bike had, every ounce I had, that was everything. I didn’t realize until after the checkered flag that I had gotten away from Kenny (Coolbeth) a little bit, I almost threw it away but I just kept charging and fortunately it was a good end result.”
Smith’s win and Mees’ 17th-place finish created an earthquake in the Harley-Davidson GNC1 presented by Vance & Hines point standings, as Mees now sits only six markers ahead of the No. 42 Crosley Radio Kawasaki pilot in the standings, 158-152.
The victory was Smith’s fourth of the season, and his first time back on the podium since his second-place Indy Mile finish on July 11.
Rounding out the podium with a third-place effort on Saturday night was Sammy Halbert, who now sits third in the points. Halbert started from 13th on the grid and deftly maneuvered his way through traffic aboard the No. 69 Briggs Auto Harley-Davidson to earn his third podium of the season.
Brandon Robinson, aboard the No. 44 Latus Motors Racing Triumph, finished fourth to earn his first top-five finish since the Sacramento Mile on May 30. Robinson sits fifth in the point standings as he heads into the homestretch of the 2015 AMA Pro Flat Track season.
Saddlemen Rookie of the Year frontrunner, Jarod Vanderkooi, put together his finest performance of 2015 aboard the No. 17F Don’s Kawasaki machine. Vanderkooi finished fifth at Charlotte and is turning heads during his rookie campaign in the elite Harley-Davidson GNC1 presented by Vance & Hines class. The rookie now sits 12th in the points.
Jake Johnson finished eighth aboard the No. 5 Factory Harley-Davidson on Saturday night. The veteran put together an impressive Heat performance and finished third in the Dash for Cash.
In the GNC2 main event, Bronson Bauman took advantage of a staggered restart with 10 laps to go to earn his first career AMA Pro Flat Track win. Bauman completed the stellar victory aboard his No. 30Z Lombardi’s Harley-Davidson machine after starting from second on the grid, passing Andrew Luker on the eighth lap and finishing just in front of Davis Fisher.
Luker, riding the No. 11Z Kennedy Racing Harley-Davidson, opened up a large lead on the first lap of the race before he saw the red flags fly on lap eight, allowing his competitors back into the race. Though Luker was able to get the holeshot following the restart, he never could gather his momentum back, and he slid all the way back to an eventual fourth place finish.
“It feels awesome to get this win,” said Bauman. “There was a lot of tough competition and Davis (Fisher) is always running up front. There’s so many more, I got a bad start but I started working my way up. We got the red flag and fortunately I got a good start off of that. When I saw the white flag, I was just ear-to-ear saying ‘don’t mess up, don’t mess up,’ and then I came around and got the checkered flag for the first time ever.”
No. 67M Parkinson Brothers Racing Kawasaki competitor Fisher battled hard with the top five on the way to his runner-up result. He’ll leave Charlotte with a stranglehold on the GNC2 points lead. Fisher sits 27 points ahead of Bauman in the standings, 157-125.
Rounding out the podium for his best performance of 2015 was Ryan Varnes. The No. 68A Varnes Racing Kawaskai pilot looked impressive all night and edged out a charging Luker on the final lap by .187 seconds. No. 27U Miller Motorsports pilot Jamison Minor rounded out the top five.
The stars of AMA Pro Flat Track head to Springfield, Ill., for the Springfield Mile on Sept. 6 at the Illinois State Fairgrounds. For tickets and information regarding Round 11, fans are encouraged to visit http://www.illinoismda.com/.
How to Watch
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About AMA Pro Flat Track
AMA Pro Flat Track is the world’s premier dirt track motorcycle racing series and one of the longest-running championships in the history of motorsports. Sanctioned by AMA Pro Racing in Daytona Beach, Fla., the series is highly regarded as the most competitive form of dirt track motorcycle racing on the globe. For more information on AMA Pro Flat Track, please visit www.amaproracing.com/ft/, follow us on Twitter, like us on Facebook or live stream the on-track action on FansChoice.tv.