Enter Jake Johnson... with just one race remaining in the AMA Grand National Championship, the defending champion took the points lead for the first time last night with a victory in the Calistoga Half Mile in Northern California.
Johnson beat Sammy Halbert in last night's race and with series points leader Jared Mees scoring only five points (second in Dash For Cash, 19th in the National) on the night, the championship battle is definitely on. Johnson leads Mees by four points going into the Pomona Half Mile in two weeks with Halbert eight points behind. Bring it on.
Last night belonged to Johnson at the Calistoga Speedway, the Zanotti Racing Harley rider winning his third race of the season with a 1.8-second win over Halbert and his Kings Kustoms, White Harley-Davidson XR750.
Third place went to Bryan Smith with Kawasaki-mounted Australian Luke Gouch fourth. Ducati-mounted rookie Brad Baker was fifth with Dash For Cash winner Kenny Coolberth Jr. on the factory Harley ending up sixth.
Mees crashed out of the race on the sixth lap, but was allowed to make the restart on his back-up bike. After riding through the field to finish sixth, the spot was taken away by AMA officials after a study of the rulebook.
"Following the on-track incident, there was no way that Jared [Mees] could get his "A" bike ready in time for the restart," said AMA director of flat track Dan Johnsen after the race. "We allowed him to restart on his backup bike to safeguard him as we considered the interpretation of the rule. As he was circulating, we reexamined the rulebook and conferred with scoring to determine that the leader had officially completed six laps and was working on his seventh lap at the time of the red flag, and therefore backup machines were not an option for competition. He [Mees] was credited with the five laps he completed prior to the red flag on his "A" bike and the subsequent points."
Calistoga Half Mile
1. Jake Johnson (H-D)
2. Sammy Halbert (H-D)
3. Bryan Smith (H-D)
4. Luke Gough (Kawasaki)
5. Brad Baker (Ducati)
6. Kenny Coolbeth Jr. (H-D)
7. Matt Weidman (H-D)
8. Doug Lawrence (H-D)
9. Johnny Lewis (Kawasaki)
10. JD Beach (Kawasaki)