Baker Wins 2013 AMA Pro Grand National Championship
NEWS October 15, 2013
Photo by Dave Hoenig
Courtesy of Geiger Media:
ANAMOSA, Iowa (Oct. 15, 2013) - Brad Baker won the 2013 AMA Pro Grand National Championship in bold fashion at the AMA Pro Flat Track Championship presented by J&P Cycles season finale, riding his Dodge Brothers Racing Harley-Davidson XR750 to victory on the Pomona (Calif.) Half-Mile Saturday night in a hard-fought battle with series rival Bryan Smith.
Baker, 20, from Eatonville, Wash., is a former Pro Singles champion and Rookie of the Year, and he is now the fourth-youngest rider in the 59-year history of the series to win the prestigious Grand National Championship.
After earning five points by winning the Dash for Cash, Baker increased his lead over Smith to the point where he just needed to finish the main event to win the national championship. He could have ridden conservatively to simply finish and clinch the title, but Baker wanted to go out on top.
Baker led the first lap over Smith and Jared Mees, but the red flag came out after two laps when Mickey Martin fell off his Triumph in Turn 2. Baker led on the restart with Smith and Mees right in his draft again. Smith took a low line through the turns compared to Baker's high line, and Smith made the line work and took over the lead. Baker nearly stepped off on Turn 2, where a lot of riders were having problems.
With Baker nearly pitching it, he temporarily seemed to back it off a bit and follow Smith from a safe distance. Mees and Briar Bauman were in the lead group as well, looking to take advantage of any mistakes by the leaders.
Baker charged again and took back the lead on Lap 14, but he and Smith were side by side most of the lap, and the duo continued to swap the lead with varying lines around the track.
Suddenly with nine laps to go Bauman got up to trade the lead with Baker and Smith. Just then another red flag came out on Lap 16 when Sammy Halbert crashed hard into the hay bales, again out of the troublesome Turn 2.
The race restarted with 10 laps to go, and Baker led once again with Bauman and Smith battling over second. In the final two laps Smith pushed hard on his Crosley Radio Kawasaki and moved up to challenge for the lead but Baker threw caution to the wind and slammed the door on his rival, and on the final lap Baker held off Smith by .706-second at the flag. Bauman came home a close third. Mees and JD Beach rounded out the top five.
"That was probably the best race of the entire season," said an ecstatic Baker. "Bryan (Smith) and I were going at it the whole time and I couldn't have asked for a better competitor. There's no better way to finish off the championship than with a big win. I really have to thank my team, Dodge Brothers Racing, for everything they've done for me this season and making all of this possible."
Smith's second-place finish Saturday night earned him 202 points in the overall standings, enough to claim second in the Grand National Championship, just 17 points behind Baker.
Though Smith wasn't able to overtake Baker in the overall standings, he did win the 2013 AMA Pro Expert Twins championship for the second year in a row. Smith's two huge wins on mile-long circuits and multiple podium appearances on the back of his powerful Kawasaki EX650 earned him a class-leading 161 points.
J.R. Addison dominated the AMA Pro J&P Cycles Pro Singles event to score his first victory.
"I came here really wanting to win this race," Addison said. "It definitely gives me a confidence boost going into next year. I got a great start and got out front early and had a clear track."
Wyatt Maguire, who took off an air cast to race on Saturday night, won the Pro Singles season title by a single point over Ryan Wells, making both champions in the AMA Pro Flat Track presented by J&P Cycles series from Washington state.