Jake Johnson led from flag to flag on his factory Suzuki RM-Z450 to earn his third-career Daytona Short Track victory in the AMA Grand National Singles Championship Wednesday at Municipal Stadium – the first leg of a doubleheader.
Johnson, starting from the pole, opened up a three second lead by midway through the 25-lap race and cruised to the checkered flag 3.325 seconds ahead of defending series champion Ken Coolbeth.
Coolbeth, using the low groove on his Bettencourt's Honda, won out for second after a race-long battle with Wisconsin’s JR Schnabel, who tried in vain on his Suzuki to make the high line work.
Seven-time AMA Grand National Champion Chris Carr was fourth on a KTM. TT specialist Henry Wiles took fifth on a Kawasaki.
“This place has been good to me pretty much my whole career,” said Johnson, of Franklinville, N.J., who won at Municipal Stadium in 2005 and again last year. “They say your first win is the sweetest, but I think it just gets better and better. I’m not going to make it easy on Kenny (Coolbeth). I want to win that title back.”
The win was Suzuki's fifth since the race moved to Municipal Stadium, making Suzuki number one in wins at the facility.
The second leg of the Grand National doubleheader runs Thursday night starting at 7:00 pm.
AMA Grand National Singles Results
1. Jake Johnson, Franklinville, N.J., Suzuki.
2. Ken Coolbeth, Morris, Conn., Honda.
3. JR Schnabel, Campbellsport, Wis., Suzuki.
4. Chris Carr, Fleetwood, Pa., KTM.
5. Henry Wiles, Blanchard, Mich., Kawasaki.
6. Nick Cummings, Mount Morris, Mich., Honda.
7. Brandan Bergen, Fresno, Calif., Honda.
8. Bryan Smith, Flushing, Mich., Kawasaki.
9. Brandon Lee Robinson, Oxford, Pa., Honda.
10. Joe Kopp, Mica, Wash., Honda.
11. Shaun Russell, San Jose, Calif., Honda.
12. Robert Pearson, Morton, Ill., Yamaha.
13. A.J. Eslick, Tulsa, Okla., Suzuki.
14. Jimmy Wood, Redlands, Calif., Suzuki.
15. Don Taylor, Canada, Honda.
16. John Raun Wood, Perkasie, Pa., Honda.