Jake Johnson Wins Round Two of Season-Opening AMA Pro Flat Track Race on the DAYTONA Flat Track
DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (Mar. 12, 2016) - Jake Johnson (No. 5 Honda CRF450R) came out on top in a two-lap tussle with Sammy Halbert (No. 69 Yamaha YZ450F) in the opening stages of Friday night's Harley-Davidson GNC1 presented by Vance & Hines 25-lap main event at the DAYTONA Flat Track to score his first AMA Pro Flat Track race victory since his 2011 Grand National Championship season.
Johnson led teammate Kenny Coolbeth Jr. (No. 2 Honda CRF450R) across the finish line by 1.851 seconds to give Zanotti Racing a one-two finish in the second and final main event of the season-opening AMA Pro Flat Track doubleheader on the quarter-mile DAYTONA track.
Johnson won in GNC1 for the first time since 2011's season-ending race on the Pomona Half-Mile in California, his fourth victory in that year's title-winning season.
"It's been a while since I've won a race," Johnson said. "It's been since 2011 and oddly enough it was one of the last times that I rode for Zanotti. I kind of had a dry spell but we got back together and we did it again. It's awesome to go one-two with my teammate. It was nice enough of Kenny to let me have this one. He has had a couple of wins the last couple of years. But it hasn't sunk in yet for me, it almost feels like my first win. I want to thank everybody that's stuck behind me the last couple of years. It's good to win again."
Coolbeth, who won round two at DAYTONA last year, was happy to share the podium with his teammate this time around in a Zanotti one-two finish.
"I'm super proud," Coolbeth said. "Dave Zanotti puts his heart and soul into our program and it shows. He's a hell of a guy and he would do anything for us. It was a good race. I had to work for it. I got a terrible start and we should've been right there with Jake. He was probably on cruise control and determined."
Halbert, who won Thursday night's opening round of the DAYTONA doubleheader, finished third and took an early season GNC1 championship lead with 40 points, three ahead of Johnson's 37 points.
"I'm the only guy up here on the podium two days in a row, so stoked with that, and I've got to give it up to my whole team," Halbert said. "Jake and I had a good battle there for a minute. He passed me and I kind of gave it back to him a little bit and he really gave it back to me, so that was cool. I'm sure it made it exciting, I was just doing the best that I could in second there but Kenny was coming and I tried to hold him off but he got me."
Halbert now rides with No. 69, the number his late brother Jethro Halbert raced in competition. Jethro Halbert, who passed away last August from injuries sustained in a 2014 accident at the Calistoga Half-Mile in California, was remembered by race fans and the AMA Pro Flat Track community in a beachside memorial service in Daytona Beach earlier this week.
"I really didn't know what to expect with the track today," Halbert said. "It was so different than yesterday. I didn't really have a game plan going in like I did last night, but I just did my best to channel my inner Jethro and get calm, and I was stoked to get the 69 up on the box again, so I'm really happy overall."
In addition to the victory, Johnson swept the majority of the GNC1 main event partner bonus awards. He earned the Öhlins Fastest Lap Award when he made what proved to be the winning pass on Halbert on lap four with a time of 19.285 seconds. He remained up front and, on the 13th lap, took the McElroy Packaging Lucky 13 Award as the race leader at the halfway point.
Thursday's third-place finisher Brad Baker (No. 6 Honda CRF450R) was fourth on Friday after advancing to the main from the third and final transfer spot in his semi. He started on the last row in 17th but went on to improve 13 positions to capture the MotoBatt Hard Charger Award.
JD Beach (No. 95 Yamaha YZ450F), who posted the fastest GNC1 qualifying time on Friday afternoon, finished fifth in the main.
In the 16-lap GNC2 main event, Dylan Morin (No. 26E Kawasaki KX450F) made the final by winning his semi and then charged from 14th on the grid to his first AMA Pro Flat Track victory. Riding a high line around the DAYTONA Flat Track, Morin passed Justin Jones (No. 19B Honda CRF450) on lap 11 for the lead and took the checkered flag with a 0.612 of a second margin of victory. His charge to the front saw him improve the most race positions to earn the NERGIA Fast Moving Award.
"It's a dream come true to be standing here on the top of the box," Morin said. "This is my first win and I am freakin' pumped. I can't believe it right now, that semi was pretty rough, and getting up here from the last to win in the main, I just can't believe I did that."
Jones earned runner-up honors for the second night in a row while Thursday night's winner Dalton Gauthier (No. 14A Yamaha YZ450F) also doubled up on GNC2 main podiums at DAYTONA with a third-place showing.
In preliminary race action, Briar Bauman, Coolbeth and Johnson won GNC1 heats while Cory Texter and Jake Constantine split the GNC1 semis.
Gauthier, Jones and Parker Norris won GNC2 heats while Andrew Luker joined Morin in taking the semi victories.
Next up for AMA Pro Flat Track is round three at Circuit of The Americas (COTA) on Saturday, April 9, where the series will make its debut during the Red Bull Grand Prix of the Americas race weekend.
2016 AMA Pro Flat Track Schedule Finalized With Central New York Raceway Park Confirmed As Round 12
DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (Mar. 9, 2016) - AMA Pro Racing announced today the finalization of the 2016 AMA Pro Flat Track schedule and confirmed that Central New York Raceway Park (CNYRP), the ground-breaking facility in central New York, will host Round 12 of the series on Saturday, August 20.
The debut event at the all-new facility will feature both the Harley-Davidson GNC1 presented by Vance & Hines and GNC2 classes in action and completes the 2016 AMA Pro Flat Track 14 round schedule.
The innovative new circuit in Central Square, N.Y, which is located just North of Syracuse in Oswego County, will have a state-of-the-art racing surface comprised of a substance called "SYNDI," which is a synthetic wax additive that has been combined with clay in order to create a dustless surface to benefit racers and fans alike. This unique application has been designed to save time on race day preparation and will also greatly diminish the length of weather delays with a quicker drying time.
"Bringing Pro Flat Track back to upstate New York is a great opportunity for our sport," said Michael Lock, CEO of AMA Pro Racing. "We are grateful for the support of our loyal fans in the Northeast and eastern Canada and we are excited to be able to test and debut the new racing surface at CNYRP's impressive new facility."
Glenn Donnelly, President of CNYRP, expressed his excitement of the newly established relationship with AMA Pro Racing and the innovative surface of the venue's flat track.
"The AMA Pro Flat Track series has a long history in Central New York," Donnelly said. "Now, with the demolition of the Syracuse Mile track, we are glad that we could work on bringing AMA Pro to our brand new facility. We look to build on the tradition and make the event a success for years to come."
A test at CNYRP on a to-be-announced date in July will provide riders and teams with their first chance to try out the new surface while building some pre-event excitement for the following month's race.
"We are pleased with the results from SYNDI," Donnelly said. "With just about 50% application, we created a better track for competition. We will continue to develop the product and believe that when it is fully applied at CNYRP, we will have a dynamite surface for the AMA Pro Flat Track competitors and spectators."
For more information about Central New York Raceway Park, please visit http://www.centralnyracewaypark.com/.
2016 AMA Pro Flat Track Schedule:
March 10: DAYTONA Flat Track I - Daytona International Speedway, Daytona Beach, Fla.
March11: DAYTONA Flat Track II - Daytona International Speedway, Daytona Beach, Fla.
April 9: Circuit of the Americas, Austin, Texas
May 14: Arizona Mile - Turf Paradise, Phoenix, Ariz.
May 21: Sacramento Mile - Cal Expo Fair, Sacramento, Calif.
May 29: Springfield Mile I - Illinois State Fairgrounds, Springfield, Ill.
June 18: Oklahoma City Mile - Remington Park, Oklahoma City, Okla.
June 25: Lima Half-Mile - Allen County Fairgrounds, Lima, Ohio
July, TBD: Official Series Test - Central New York Raceway Park, Central Square, N.Y.
July 30: Charlotte Half-Mile - Charlotte Motor Speedway, Charlotte, N.C.
August 9: Sturgis Half-Mile - Black Hills Speedway, Rapid City, S.D.
August 14: Peoria TT - Peoria Motorcycle Club, Peoria, Ill.
August 20: Central New York Raceway Park - Central Square, N.Y.
September 4: Springfield Mile II - Illinois State Fairgrounds, Springfield, Ill.
September 25: Santa Rosa Mile - Sonoma County Fairgrounds, Santa Rosa, Calif.
2016 AMA Pro Flat Track Season Begins This Week with Rounds One and Two at the DAYTONA Flat Track, March 10-11
DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (Mar. 9, 2016) - The 2016 AMA Pro Flat Tack racing season kicks-off this week on the DAYTONA Flat Track at Daytona International Speedway (DIS) where rounds one and two of the Harley-Davidson GNC1 presented by Vance & Hines and the GNC2 classes will take place this Thursday and Friday, March 10 - 11.
Hosting the season-opening event for the seventh consecutive year, the DAYTONA Flat Track is located just outside of DIS's Turn 1 and 2 West banking, and AMA Pro Flat Track riders will race there for the first time under the impressive backdrop of the recently completed "Daytona Rising" Motorsports Stadium.
One of the riders to watch in the top-tier Harley-Davidson GNC1 presented by Vance & Hines class is three-time and reigning GNC1 Champion Jared Mees (No.1 Honda CRF450R).
"I can't wait to get out there and compete," Mees said. "It's been a productive off season for me and I just really want to get back into competition and start off this season on the right foot. There are a lot of great riders in GNC1 and I know it's going to be another grind this year. It's what I live for and I'm just so excited for Daytona."
Mees will once again battle with the likes of 2014 and 2015 DAYTONA Flat Track winner Kenny Coolbeth, Jr. (No. 2 Honda CRF450R), Brad Baker (No. 6 Honda CRF450R), Bryan Smith (No. 42 Kawasaki KX450F), Jake Johnson (No. 5 Honda CRF450R) and more.
Smith has finished second to Mees in the GNC1 title race each of the last two seasons.
"It was really bittersweet for me last year to come up just shy of winning the championship for the second-straight year," Smith said. "It really fired me up this offseason, I've trained way harder and I'm even hungrier for 2016. I never stopped training since our final race in Las Vegas all the way up until now. I think I will be physically and mentally better this season."
Joining Coolbeth as former DAYTONA GNC1 winners that could make it to victory lane again this week are Briar Bauman (No. 14 Honda CRF450R), Sammy Halbert (No. 69 Yamaha YZ450F), Johnny Lewis (No. 10 Yamaha YZ450F), Mikey Rush (No. 54 Honda CRF450R), Brandon Robinson (No. 44 Honda CRF450R) and Stevie Bonsey (No. 80 Suzuki RMZ450), who split last year's DAYTONA victories with Coolbeth.
The rookie class in GNC1 will be led by standout 2015 GNC2 Champion Davis Fisher (No. 67 Honda CRF450R).
A showcase of the nation's up-and-coming riders, GNC2 competition is frequently just as intense as the GNC1 class. The list of riders to keep an eye on includes last year's DAYTONA class winners Andrew Luker and Justin Jones, 2014 DAYTONA victors Ryan Wells and Brandon Wilhelm, and other young talents such as 2015 class runner-up Dan Bromley, Bronson Bauman, Jamison Minor, Brandon Wilhelm, J.R. Addison, Tristan Avery and several others.
After a pair of successful appearances at AMA Pro Flat Track events last year, the Super Hooligans will make their DAYTONA Flat Track debut as part of this Thursday's schedule of events. A flat track class organized by designer Roland Sands, the Super Hooligans feature big, custom twin-cylinder motorcycles that look like they rolled straight off of Main Street.
New for 2016, every round on the schedule will feature a large format high definition screen bringing the FansChoice.tv production to the fans in the grandstands.
The full DAYTONA Flat Track schedule begins each day with practice sessions for GNC2 at 3:00 p.m. and 3:20 p.m. for GNC1 riders. Qualifying rounds follow from 3:40 until 4:40 p.m. Opening ceremonies will commence at 7:00 p.m. and lead into three heat races for the GNC2 class before the GNC1 heats. After an 8:00 p.m. track prep intermission, the semis will begin to build momentum straight into the featured main races at 8:40 p.m., eliminating the Dash for Cash and removing any chance that one of the stars could be forced to miss a main event.