POMONA, CA, OCT. 13 - Harley-Davidson's Kenny Coolbeth ended what for him was a dismal 2012 season with a runaway victory on the Pomona Fairplex Half Mile, the New Englander leading from start to finish on a night in which Jared Mees was crowned as the AMA Grand National Champion.
With Coolbeth out front and putting on a clinic in a season that saw him bounce back from a broken lower leg, Mees had to deal with the bigger issue of championship rival Sammy Halbert - with the pair coming together early in the race. At that point, Mees forged ahead and out of harms way. Only later when he saw that Halbert had a clutch problem did he slow his pace, ultimately ending up eighth - five spots better than Halbert. And the championship was his - by 13 points.
"The feeling hasn't really sunk in yet," Mees said from the podium. "So much hard work and dedication has gone into this season and it all paid off. I kind of knew where I was the whole race and was able to bring it home. I really have to thank my team and sponsors for all their support this year; this was a great team effort."
Second place in tonight's race went to Brad Baker, the Dodge Brothers Racing Harley-Davidson rider holding off the Crosley Radio/Howerton Motorsports Kawasaki of Bryan Smith by just .144 of a second after 25 laps around the 5/8ths mile track.
Robert Pearson rode his Memphis Shades Harley-Davidson to fourth - 1.4 seconds ahead of a battle for fifth that went to JD Beach and his USC Kawasaki over Goodwin Racing Harley's Stevie Bonsey, Lloyd Brothers/Foremost Insurance's Henry Wiles and and Mees. Those four were covered by less than a second.
Brandon Robinson rode his Werner/Springsteen Kawasaki to night with Jethro Halbert 10th on his USC Racing Kawasaki.
Defending AMA Grand National Champion Jake Johnson, the third rider in with a chance of taking the title going into Pomona, ended up 14th.
Pomona Half Mile
1.Kenny Coolbeth (H-D)
2. Brad Baker (H-D)
3. Bryan Smith (Kawasaki)
4. Robert Pearson (H-D)
5. JD Beach (Kawasaki)
6. Stevie Bonsey (H-D)
7. Henry Wiles (Ducati)
8. Jared Mees (H-D)
9. Brandon Robinson (Kawasaki)
10. Jethro Halbert (Kawasaki)