TT or short track, it doesn’t matter. If it’s an AMA Ford Quality Checked Championship round, and it’s happening at the Illinois State Fairgrounds Rodeo Arena in Springfield, then JR Schnabel is on the case.
The 26-year-old Wisconsinite (center) won for the fifth consecutive time in as many rounds when he piloted his Babe Demay-tuned Memphis Shades/Parts Unlimited Yamaha YZ450F-based 505cc single to victory at the Springfield Short Track tonight. Starting from the pole, Schnabel led every lap of the 25-lap main event, which seemed to get stuck on lap eight when first Bryan Bigelow, Chris Carr and Kevin Varnes crashed and then Shaun Russell crashed on the restart. Schnabel simply kept his cool on each restart to retake the lead.
The action heated up near the finish when race-long runner-up Joe Kopp (right) managed to catch Schnabel and make a couple serious pass attempts by running underneath him. The pair dueled side by side in turns one and two on the last lap, but Schnabel managed to escape and keep the lead on the high line, earning his seventh career AMA Grand National victory. The Latus Motors Harley-Davidson/KTM-backed Kopp finished second by little more than a wheel length, with Moroney’s Harley-Davidson and Honda-backed Bryan Smith (left) pulling off a late-race move on Memphis Shades Yamaha’s Rob Pearson to secure third, Smith’s second podium finish in as many weekends.
The battle for AMA Ford Quality Checked Flat Track Championship gained equal intensity when the Ford Quality Checked Certified Pre-owned Racing KTM-mounted Carr was collected by the falling Bigelow in turn one on lap eight. Varnes also got collected, all three riders tumbling hard and bringing out a red flag. Carr was dazed in the crash, but he managed to remount and make the restart. From there, the reigning series champion methodically slashed his way through the field from the back of the single-file restart, putting on a passing clinic that would take him past series points rival Kenny Coolbeth late in the race. Carr made it all the way up to fourth, while Coolbeth struggled with an ailing motorcycle and wound up eighth.
The difference meant four more points in the bank for Carr, who only needs another five tomorrow to cinch his fifth consecutive and seventh overall AMA Grand National number one plate. Carr now leads Coolbeth, 207-188, heading into tomorrow’s Springfield Mile.
Pearson, Coziahr Harley-Davidson/National Cycle’s Johnny Murphree and Mack Daddy Racing/JC Racing Honda’s Henry Wiles filled in the spots between Carr and Coolbeth, with Zanotti Racing/A&A Racing Honda’s Jethro Halbert and Bartels’ Harley-Davidson/TNT Harley.com Honda-mounted Shaun Russell completing the top 10.
Illinois State Fairgrounds
Results: September 3, 2005 (Round 13 of 15)
GRAND NATIONAL (25 laps; 16 riders): 1. JR Schnabel (Yam); 2. Joe Kopp (KTM); 3. Bryan Smith (Hon); 4. Chris Carr (Hon); 5. Rob Pearson (Yam); 6. Johnny Murphree (Hon); 7. Henry Wiles (Hon); 8. Kenny Coolbeth (KTM); 9. Jethro Halbert (Hon); 10. Shaun Russell (Hon); 11. Tim Eades (Rot); 12. Willie McCoy (KTM); 13. Bryan Bigelow (ATK); 14. Josh Toungett (Hon); 15. Ion Stear (Yam); 16. Kevin Varnes (Suz).
Time: No time, due to restart.
Margin of victory: .048 sec.
AMA FORD QUALITY CHECKED CERTIFIED FLAT TRACK CHAMPIONSHIP SERIES POINTS STANDINGS (After 13 of 15 rounds): 1. Chris Carr (207/2 wins); 2. Kenny Coolbeth (188/2 wins); 3. Joe Kopp (176/2 wins); 4. Jared Mees (162/2 wins); 5. Bryan Smith (135); 6. Rich King (119/1 win); 7. (TIE) JR Schnabel (115/2 wins)/Jake Johnson (115/1 win)/ Johnny Murphree (115); 10. Shaun Russell (114); 11. Henry Wiles (107/1 win); 12. Bryan Bigelow (93); 13. Willie McCoy (86); 14. Kevin Varnes (77); 15. Nick Cummings (68); 16. Geo Roeder II (45); 17. Jay Springsteen (39); 18. Tim Eades (32); 19. Paul Lynch (31); 20. Jethro Halbert (30).
Round 14: Springfield, Illinois, September 4
Round 15: Du Quoin, Illinois, October 1