Jeremy Hamilton: Ups and Downs
NEWS June 23, 2011
ROUND 6 & 7 – SPRINGFIELD, IL
The weekend in Springfield, Illinois was a crazy one to say the least! After unloading the bikes and gear into the pits at the TT venue, the race was canceled on Saturday due to hail, thunderstorms, and lots and lots of rain and was rescheduled for Monday. So we spent the rest of the day chilling out and waiting to go racing at the famous Springfield Mile on Sunday.
We got up early to get to the track which was still quite wet, but the AMA Pro officials were determined to get the program in…and did…a little late and with a shortened program, but in. The track was uncharacteristic of how it typically is, with ruts and bumps everywhere due to all the rain and rushed track prep. It was sketchy to say the least. The program was shortened by running only the Heat Races and Main Events so you had to qualify straight out of the heat race, which I did!
I got a decent start in the main, but sort of got stuck out there by myself and just ran in 12th the whole race. It definitely didn’t feel like the normal Springfield Mile or Mile race day, but I made the main, finished in 12th and was ready to race the TT on Monday.
The TT, which is usually a night race, would have to be run during the day which produced a challenge for AMA Pro to keep the track moist. Man…that track was a blast! It was a completely new and different type of shape with a huge jump and AMA Pro did a great job of keeping in a lot of moisture throughout the entire day! It was one of the most fun tracks I’ve ridden in a while.
I qualified 4th out of 60+ racers and was feeling good about the event. I had a front row, second position start in the heat, and was running in 5th until I got caught up behind someone coming into a turn too fast and laid it down. I was in last but quickly worked my way up to 10th to get a front row start for the LCQ. I got a good start and was running a good program in the LCQ in third place, and out came the red flag with a few laps to go. I got another good start from the single file restart and was in second, made a pass for the lead coming around for the jump but then slipped up and gave it back, finishing in second place…but qualifying for the main event.
In the main event I had a third row start, but I was havin’ a lot of fun and was determined to ride hard. There were about three restarts all within the first lap and on the fourth start I got a great start and was in about 11th. I was consistently working my way up and was in 7th place when another red flag came out. On the start, I got a good jump, got into sixth, and finished the day in 5th. That is the BEST finished I’ve accomplished at a GNC Pro national and the hardest I’ve ever ridden…the most fun too! I was super excited and hopefully that was the turning point of my year.
ROUND 8 – HARTFORD, MI
Hartford, Michigan was the location for Round 8 of the AMA GNC Series. My mom, dad, girlfriend and I left my house at about four in the morning on Friday to make the 18 hour drive from Mansfield, Texas. It was a really long trip, but luckily I got to catch up on a lot of much needed sleep.
When we pulled into the pits, the first thing I did was go to take a look at the track. It looked like a great track and I was super stoked to get to ride it. It seemed like a huge half-mile with high banking and appeared to be as smooth as glass. After a long wait between opening the gates and the riders meeting, we started qualifying practice.
The track got super dusty really quick which was a surprise, and of course it got pretty slick. I was geared at what felt like way too low, you know, bogging coming off the corners, but it felt smooth and I came in third fastest qualifier in the first session. The track seemed to quickly be getting a groove, so we added two teeth thinking that there would be a lot of traction and that it would be fast, but sadly we were wrong. I had sooo much power coming off the turns that I wasn’t getting any traction at all, I was just spinning and staying sideways especially out of turn 2 no matter what I tried doing.
I dropped to 27 fastest in the first timed qualifying and with the danger of not qualifying looming, I switched to my ’08 bike that I had much more seat time on. Sadly, same result in the second session out. Overall I qualified 27th; my worst yet this year. Me and my dad discussed the bike and the track and made numerous changes to get the bike to where we thought it needed to be. I had a third row start for the heat race and a looong way to go to the top 7. I got a decent start, and worked my way up to about tenth.
The track was dusty and slick and with the sun in your eyes, it was hard to see the groove coming out of turn 2. The groove was about 5 feet wide and there wasn’t really any room for passing. I finished the heat race in tenth, which was a front row start for the LCQ. I found a spot with some traction on the starting line for the LCQ, and got an awesome holeshot. I felt comfortable and rode steadily out front for the whole race. Then a red flag came out at about lap 6, bringing us to a single file restart. I chose to start up by the groove, got a good jump, and was back in the lead. I held on to first place to take my first win in a Pro Singles race and it felt really good!
For the main event, I felt like I needed to add just one tooth because the track was starting to get quite a bit of traction. Fearful that we would make the wrong decision, we decided to stay with what we had. For the final, I had a third row start. I got an amazing jump, found an opening and shot up to the front of the pack into 8th place coming out of turn two on the first lap. I quickly realized I really did need that extra tooth. I made really good time on the straights but lost it all coming out of the turns. The traction was there, but the power wasn’t.
On top of that, I had a new helmet with a stock shield and was fighting a foggy shield the entire race…kind of hard to see where you’re going with a foggy shield! Towards the end of the race, I hit a hole between one and two and slipped off the groove dropping back to 11th. I made so many great drives going into the turns and was so close to passing, but couldn’t make it happen because of the setup deficit.
It was very frustrating to deal with but I tried to make the most out of what I had to work with and felt good about how I ended the day considering all the chaos we had went through with bike setup. I’m really looking forward to Lima, Ohio. I really like that track (I was the fastest qualifier there last year in the Pro Singles class) and love riding cushions.
I’d like to thank my family, my sponsors, and my Lord and Savior for supporting us through our travels, racing and life this weekend! Summer is here and I’m really looking forward to more racing!
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