Start Your Engines: One Month until AMA Pro Flat Track Rolls Into Daytona for 2014 Season Opener
NEWS February 13, 2014
Photo by Dave Hoenig
Written by Andrew Swain:
DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (February 13, 2014) – The countdown is on. In exactly one month from now, the stars of AMA Pro Flat Track will line up on the grid to kick off the 2014 season as rounds one and two are set to commence in Daytona Beach, Fla. on March 13-14. A complete 16-round schedule has fans and riders alike eager to kick off the season next month as this potentially could be the most adrenaline-charged season in recent AMA Pro Flat Track history.
Will defending Grand National Champion Brad Baker capture another title? Or will he be outmatched by rivals Bryan Smith, Brandon Robinson, Jared Mees and company? How will Shayna Texter handle her first career season at the Grand National Expert level? Will the AMA Pro Singles class come down to a single point again this season or will an up-and-coming star steal the show and run away with it? A lot of questions loom as to what the future holds for the 2014 AMA Pro Flat Track season.
Headlining the offseason was Brad Baker’s decision to attach his No. 1 plate to the heavily sought-after Factory Harley-Davidson XR750 for all 12 AMA Pro Expert Twins events scheduled for 2014. Baker becomes the latest addition to ride for arguably the most elite race team in all of flat track and it’s hard to say exactly how high the ceiling is for the 20-year-old, as the Dryad, Wash. product has impressed and improved in every season since entering the professional ranks in 2011 when he earned Saddlemen Rookie of the Year. Baker’s title defense begins when the lights go green in Daytona a month from now when he will be mounted on a Fun Mart Cycle backed KTM 450 SX-F.
Another eye-catching occurrence this offseason was Shayna Texter’s graduation to the elite AMA Pro Grand National Expert ranks for the 2014 season. Texter shined in both opportunities presented to her last season when she claimed two victories in AMA Pro Basic Twins competition, riding a Kawasaki EX650. This year, Texter recently announced that she will be piloting a Latus Motors Racing’s Castrol Triumph in Grand National Expert competition. The female sensation won four total races last season and will look to carry over that momentum into 2014.
Pennsylvania’s Brandon Robinson (USC Racing/James Hart Racing) erupted onto the scene last season with a third-place finish in the overall Grand National Championship point standings. Robinson put three huge Grand National main event victories on the board in 2013, giving him the most wins out of any GNC Expert last season. At 23, Robinson is clearly one of the sport’s up-and-coming talents and he will more than likely be atop several more podiums in 2014. Robinson collected his first career victory at Daytona last season as he edged out Baker on the final laps to kick off what would turn out to be a remarkable season for him. Look for Robinson to turn heads yet again in 2014 and potentially contend for the coveted No. 1 plate and overall Grand National Championship.
Former Grand National Champion and Michigan product Jared Mees (Rogers Racing) had a down year in 2013 according to his standards. Mees finished fourth in the overall points and suffered an injury that caused him to miss an entire round. However, Mees should always be considered a threat to strike at any event as he has proven time and time again the exceptional talent and experience that he possesses.
Quite possibly the hungriest competitor on the circuit entering the 2014 season is Bryan Smith (Crosley Radio/Oasis Homes). The Michigan native finished runner-up to Baker in the overall points last season and he will certainly be eyeing that top spot this year. Smith is notorious for dominating mile-long tracks and will get a total of six chances at them in 2014.
The beautiful thing about AMA Pro Flat Track is that there are several riders that have a chance to light up the board on any given night. Competitors like Henry Wiles, Kenny Coolbeth, Jr., Jake Johnson, JD Beach, Jeffrey Carver Jr., Sammy Halbert, Johnny Lewis and company all have proven they have what it takes to succeed at the most elite level there is. Only time will tell who the next Grand National Champion will be. One thing is for sure, however – it all begins in Daytona one month from now.