Henry Wiles came about three inches away from giving Aprilia its first AMA Grand National Championship victory, but it was Joe Kopp making a spectacular move out of the final turn on the Lima (Ohio) Half-Mile on his No. 3 Latus Harley-Davidson to pass Wiles and earn his second straight series win. The race, held before the usual packed Lima grandstands, was the closest finish in the track’s 24-year history of hosting AMA Grand Nationals.
Wiles led every lap of the final until just inches from the line where Kopp’s inside drive out of four pushed him to the lead as the checkered flag fell. The two leaders dominated the race. Third place Nick Cummings, riding with a broken back, finished third, just over five seconds back.
“When the five (lap) to go board came out I started thinking my chances were running out,” said Kopp, who hounded Wiles at nearly every turn. “I think a lapper may have held Wiles up a little bit in turn three and I went way down low on the final turn and got just enough of a drive to get the win. That was one of the more exciting races I’ve ever won.”
The victory moved Kopp to within a single point of factory Harley-Davidson rider Kenny Coolbeth in the series standings. Coolbeth had a subpar outing at Lima finishing ninth.
The victory was Kopp’s third at Lima.
The series next travels to Heartland Park Topeka’s Half-Mile this coming Friday, July 4.