AMA Pro Flat Track Headed for the "Hub City" Classic at Hagerstown Half-Mile
NEWS July 3, 2012
Photo by Dave Hoenig
DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (July 3, 2012) - As the summer of 2012 heats up, so does the action in the AMA Pro Harley-Davidson Insurance Grand National Championship presented by Motorcycle-Superstore.com and Lucas Oil. The “Hub City” Classic is approaching as the series heads to Hagerstown, MD and the red clay of the Hagerstown Speedway.
The July 7th event will be the 31st Grand National Championship race on the normally smooth, banked half-mile; a big change from last week’s “grip it and rip it” cushion half-mile. Always a big fan favorite, it will be the only appearance on the East Coast for the Grand National Championship in 2012.
The Rolling Thunder Show, literally and figuratively, rolled into Lima, OH last week and was filled with bar-to-bar racing with a little MMA blended in. Sammy Halbert (South East Harley-Davidson) and Henry Wiles (Lloyd Brothers Motorsports / Foremost Insurance) battled down to the wire with the win going to Halbert.
Neither the “Slammer” (Halbert) nor the “Hammer” (Wiles) have won a national main event at Hagerstown, but Halbert has been on the podium twice, scoring a second and third place finish in 2008 & 2009. Wiles’ best finish has been an eighth in 2010, but this will be his first attempt on his potent Ducati.
There are only two active riders with Hagerstown wins. Kenny Coolbeth (Harley-Davidson Motor Company) 2007, 2008 & 2011 and defending Grand National Champion Jake Johnson (Zanotti Racing / Schaeffer’s Harley-Davidson) 2009. Unfortunately Coolbeth has joined the inactive riders after suffering a broken leg in a freak accident at Lima. Another favorite will be sitting out is early season points leader Matt Weidman (Greg Crow Racing / White‘s Harley-Davidson), also hurt in Lima.
Johnny Lewis is still looking for his first “Big Bike” win aboard his Scott Powersports Kawasaki, but Lewis has been knocking on the door and it appears only a matter of time until he charges through. Lewis finished second last year behind Coolbeth.
Current points leader Jared Mees has been on the Hagerstown podium three times, all third place finishes (2007, 2010 & 2011). The Rogers Racing / Blue Springs Harley-Davidson backed Mees is a proven groove track rider is looking for his first win in 2012, but still holds an 11 point lead after five races.
Jake Johnson’s title defense got off to a slow start and he also is still looking for his first win of the year, but his consistency has pushed him into second in the points over Lewis with Sammy Halbert moving up to fourth still 16 points off the lead.
Bryan Smith (Moroney’s Harley-Davidson) is another top-10 rider with some success at Hagerstown. He finished second in 2007.
The big oval has produced a few first time winners as Rusty Rogers (1992), Kevin Varnes (1995) and Nicky Hayden (1999) all won their first GNC main events there. Could this be the year for Brad Baker (Columbia Avionics), Briar Bauman (Rod Lake Racing / USC Kawasaki) or Jeffery Carver (Kiesow Racing / Hall’s Cycles) who are all having solid years while looking for that elusive first win?
The always competitive Motorcycle-Superstore.com Pro Singles will also be in action as points leader Gerit Callies (Fun Mart Cycles) tries to fend off the fast closing Ryan Wells (Weirbach Racing). Callies’ two wins make him the only repeat winner in AMA Pro Flat Track, but inconsistency has plagued the South Dakotan.
Sitting third in the points is Jason Isennock (Highs Dairy Store). Isennock is from nearby Timonium, MD and is undoubtedly looking forward to racing so close to home.
2011 Motorcycle-Superstore.com Pro Singles winner at Hagerstown, Mikey Martin has moved on to the Grand National Expert ranks leaving fellow podium finishers, Callies (2nd), Adam Bushman (Midwest CNC) to repeat their efforts in 2012.