It took two restarts to get the race completed, but when the Annie Oakley Shootout came down to the final six-lap dash to the finish it was Latus Harley-Davidson/Renton Honda/Beaverton Honda-backed Joe Kopp taking home his second rifle from the Treaty Motorcycle Club on Saturday night.
"I knew if I got to turn one first, I was going to have a heck of a good shot at winning the thing," Kopp said. "I knew I could put in six good laps."
So seven races into the season, there has yet to be a repeat winner, though right up until the last red flag that streak looked to be in jeopardy. That's because last week's winner Jared Mees appeared to have the deep cushion of the Darke County Fairgrounds half mile figured out. Fresh off last week's win, the Lancaster Screamin' Eagle Harley-Davidson-backed Mees was fast qualifier, and the winner of the fastest heat race of the night, but he didn’t get quite get it done in the main event, finishing second to Kopp.
Third place on the difficult half mile went to JR Schnabel with defending Grand National Champion Chris Carr and Nick Cummings rounding out the top five.
The day was marred by several big accidents, including the most serious of them which involved dirt track legend Jay Springsteen. In the fourth heat race of the night, Springsteen crashed his Bartels' Harley-Davidson and was struck by another rider coming off the second row. Springer suffered a major blow to the back and was transported to hospital where they found him to have five fractures to the T-7 vertebra and eight broken ribs. Springsteen was scheduled to undergo surgery on Sunday.
The first to crash was Lima Harley-Davidson Buell/Ideal Environmental's Bryan Bigelow, and he did so in practice. Bigelow went to the hospital with a dislocated shoulder, neck and chest pains, and bruising around his legs.
Lombardi Harley-Davidson/KK Motorcycle Supply/R&D Machine's Dominic Beaulac took a heavy fall in his heat race and was also transported with a reported broken hip.
GRAND NATIONAL (25 laps, 18 riders): 1. Joe Kopp (H-D); 2. Jared Mees (H-D); 3. JR Schnabel (H-D); 4. Chris Carr (H-D); 5. Nick Cummings (H-D); 6. Chris Evans (H-D); 7. Kenny Coolbeth (H-D); 8. Jake Johnson (Suz); 9. Johnny Murphree (H-D); 10. Willie McCoy (H-D); 11. Rob Pearson (Suz); 12. Tim Eades (H-D); 13. Chris Hart (H-D); 14. Ricky Marshall (H-D); 15. Geo Roeder (H-D); 16. Steve Murray (H-D); 17. Logan Myers (H-D); 18. Bryan Smith (H-D).
AMA FORD QUALITY CHECKED FLAT TRACK C’SHIP POINT STANDINGS (after 7 of 12 rounds): 1. Chris Carr (85/1 win); 2. Jared Mees (78/1 win); 3. Kenny Coolbeth (77/1 win); 4. (TIE) Joe Kopp (71/1 win)/Bryan Smith (71); 6. JR Schnabel (62); 7. Rich King (60); 8. Mike Hacker (51/1 win); 9. Johnny Murphree (49); 10. Jake Johnson (43); 11. Nick Cummings (34); 12. (TIE) Dominic Beaulac (31/1 win)/Shaun Russell (31); 14. (TIE) Paul Lynch/Rob Pearson (27).