DU QUOIN, IL (April 16, 2011) -- Kenny Coolbeth came out swinging Saturday afternoon in timed qualifying for round three of the AMA Grand National Championship. Coolbeth turned a lap at 11.037 seconds on his Chaplin Kawasaki inside the Southern Illinois Center. Coolbeth topped a tightly knit group of riders. The top-20 was separated by just 2-10ths of a second.

 

“I didn’t even know I was fastest, but that’s good,” said Coolbeth, a three-time AMA Grand National Champion. “You need to be near the front in qualifying to have a chance to do well here. I’ve been riding quite a bit at home so I’ve been staying focused and I feel good. I’m looking forward to it.”

 

Coolbeth edged out defending series champ Jake Johnson, who turned an 11.050 on his Zanotti Racing Honda. “You look how close everyone is here, it’s definitely tough,” Johnson said. “I can’t believe how fast this track is. You’re just going to have to pin it in the race. You have no time to prepare for anything. You just have to wing it.”

 

Johnny Lewis was third clocking an 11.055 on his Scott Powersports Honda. Henry Wiles (11.073 seconds), the dominant Singles rider over the last few years, and Sammy Halbert (11.097 seconds), who won both Daytona Short Track nationals and leads the series, rounded out the top-five qualifiers.

 

“You have to be hyped up and drink a couple of Red Bulls before you go out there,” Coolbeth said of his qualifying prep. “Your first lap to your last lap you have to just charge. The track is changing. It’s going to polish off and get a little slicker, but I think we’re ready for it.”

 

One minor surprise was the qualifying performance of JD Beach. Beach, who practices and races regularly at this track, only managed to qualify 15th at an 11.215. He is riding a new, largely untested motorcycle.

 

“I was a little surprised to see JD wasn’t among the top guys,” Coolbeth said. “It’s not over. The times are so close it’s all about getting a good start and staying out of trouble.”

 

Timed Qualifying for the AMA Grand National Short Track at Du Quoin, Ill.

1. Kenny Coolbeth, Jr.            Kawasaki KX450F     11.037

2. Jake Johnson                       Honda CRF450R        11.050

3. Johnny Lewis                      Honda CRF450R        11.055

4. Henry Wiles                        Kawasaki KX450F     11.073

5. Sammy Halbert                   Yamaha YZ 450F       11.097

6. Chad Cose                          Honda CRF450R        11.125

7. Jimmy Wood                       Honda CRF450R        11.128

8. E Kayl Kolkman                 Kawasaki KX450F     11.134

9. Brandon Robinson              Honda CRF450R        11.140

10. Jared Mees                        Honda CRF450R        11.143

11. Chris Carr                          Honda CRF450R        11.148

12. Brad Baker                        Honda CRF450R        11.166

13. Robert Pearson                  Yamaha YZ 450F       11.171

14. Justin Hittle                       Honda CRF450R        11.185

15. JD Beach                           Kawasaki KX450F     11.215

16. Jesse Janisch                      Honda CRF450R        11.221

17. Aaron King                       Honda CRF450R        11.224

18. Donald Mullen II              Honda CRF450R        11.239

19. John Wood                        Honda CRF450R        11.246

20. Michael Kirkness              Suzuki RMZ 450        11.247

 

Larry Lawrence

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