SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (May 29, 2011) -- A nearly four-year AMA Grand National winless drought for perennial frontrunner Jared Mees came to an end Sunday at the Springfield Mile, and as far as Mees is concerned the winless streak couldn't have ended at a better place.
Mees came out on top in a last-lap draft-fest with Sammy Halbert and Jake Johnson. The leading trio had broken away late in the race from the rest of the field. Halbert led out of the last lap, but Mees pulled up perfectly into his draft and moved around at the last moment to take the victory by a scant 0.016 of a second over Halbert. Defending champ Johnson was in the wake and to settle had for third.
The racing started late due to the track being a muddy mess in the morning. To beat darkness AMA Pro Racing officials abbreviated the program eliminating Semis and LCQs.
"It feels so good to finally get back on top of the box," said a jubilant Mees, who last won at Lima in July of 2007. "I've been right there so many times and had so many chances to win; you start to wonder if you're snake bitten or something. I don't know why, but with five laps to go I just had this feeling that I had this race. My crew gave me a rocketship and I knew I could come out of the draft anytime I wanted to. This was big for me in the points too, so hopefully I can use this win going ahead to go for another championship run."
This marked the first victory on the Springfield Mile for Mees.
Much of the race was a classic Springfield freight train that had has many as eight riders in the lead pack. In the closing laps the trio of Mess, Halbert and Johnson broke the draft. Halbert actually gapped the other two by putting his head down and riding as hard as he could, but it wasn't enough and on the final lap Mees had enough power on his Rogers Lake/Blue Springs/Screamin' Eagle Harley-Davidson XR750 to get past Halbert's Harley.
Harley-Davidson finished one-two-three, in spite of an amazing fastest qualifying and Heat race performance by pole-winner Brad Baker on the Lloyd Brothers Ducati. Unfortunately for the young Washington state charger, the Ducati didn't handle as well as the track dried out late in the day and he turned in a herculean effort just to finish fifth, getting edged out by Kenny Coolbeth on the last lap.
Halbert's second in the national, combined with a victory in the Dash for Cash, pushed his lead in the championship to 16 points over Johnson. Coolbeth is third, while Mees and Baker are tied for fourth.
Zakk Palmer won the Pro Singles final running from the front coming out of turn four. He nipped Michael Martin and Jake Shoemaker. The top eight Pro Singles riders finished with 7-10ths of a second in yet another nail biter. Gerit Callies still leads the Pro Singles series in spite of not making the main Sunday.
The rain-delayed Springfield TT will run Monday.
Springfield Mile Results (May 29, 2010)
1 Jared Mees
2 Sammy Halbert
3 Jake Johnson
4 Kenny Coolbeth, Jr.
5 Brad Baker
6 Willie McCoy
7 Chris Carr
8 Johnny Lewis
9 Michael Kirkness
10 Robert Pearson
11 Matt Weidman
12 Nichole Cheza
13 Brandon Robinson
14 Shawn Baer
15 Steven Bonsey
16 Jake Mataya
17 Bryan Smith
18 Justin Hittle