KNOXVILLE, Iowa (Sept. 10, 2011) -- In one of the closest races in history, Jared Mees nipped Jake Johnson at the finish line to win the Knoxville Half-Mile and in the process take the series lead from Sammy Halbert, who has held top spot in the standings all season. In addition to a thrilling Grand National, Shayna Texter became the first woman to win a Pro Singles final. That too was a super-close finish with Texter just holding off Briar Bauman.
In the first AMA Grand National at Knoxville Raceway since 1996, Mees and Johnson were strong all night and battled back and forth nearly the entire way. Johnson held the point at the white flag, but gave his Zanotti Racing Harley-Davidson just a little too much throttle and spun up the rear tire. That allowed Mees the opening he was looking for and he put his Brent Armbruster-tuned Rogers Lake Racing/Blue Springs H-D/Screamin' Eagle in front. Johnson got a great drive coming out of turn four and pulled to the inside and the two flashed across the line side by side.
AMA Pro Racing officials had to refer to the finish-line video to confirm that Mees crossed first, by maybe a half-an-inch. The margin of victory according to the transponder was 0.000.
Sammy Halbert finished third on his Kings Kustoms Harley-Davidson.
The race was red flagged and had to be restarted with eight laps to go when Jeffrey Carver crashed in turn two, hurting his left hand.
"I knew Jake was coming," said Mees, who scored his fourth win of the season. "I didn't see him until we were a little ways past the finish line, so I thought I got it. When I came back to the finish line I started to take a victory lap and they told me to hold up, they had to check the tape. Jake rode such a clean race. He got a little loose on that last lap and gave me the break I needed. It was shame that one of us had to lose that one, but that's what's racing's all about."
The victory, combined with a win in the Dash, moved Mees into the lead for the first time this season. He now heads Halbert by four points (321-317). Johnson is only nine points out of the lead, meaning the championship chase between the top three is only getting closer as the season winds down to a conclusion with three races to go.
Shayna Texter drew a standing ovation after winning her first Pro Singles final on her RLT Racing/Lancaster Harley-Davidson Honda CRF450R. The diminutive Texter outgunned young Briar Bauman, by 0.358 seconds to become the first female rider to win in the class. Michael Toon was third.
Michael Martin finished fourth, pushing his lead in the series over Gerit Callies to 21 points (277-256).
The series moves to North Central Speedway in Brainerd, Minnesota, on Saturday, Sept. 24.
1. Jared Mees Harley-Davidson
2. Jake Johnson Harley-Davidson
3. Sammy Halbert Harley-Davidson
4. Bryan Smith Harley-Davidson
5. JD Beach Kawasaki
6. Johnny Lewis Kawasaki
7. Nichole Cheza Harley-Davidson
8. Chris Carr Harley-Davidson
9. Kenny Coolbeth, Jr. Harley-Davidson
10. Aaron King Suzuki
11. Brandon Robinson Harley-Davidson
12. Doug Lawrence Harley-Davidson
13. Jethro Halbert Harley-Davidson
14. Matt Weidman Harley-Davidson
15. Brandan Bergen Harley-Davidson
16. Luke Gough Harley-Davidson
17. Robert Pearson Harley-Davidson
18. Jeffrey Carver Jr. Harley-Davidson
1. Jared Mees 321
2. Sammy Halbert 317
3. Jake Johnson 312
4. Kenny Coolbeth, Jr. 256
5. Chris Carr 208