If not for victories, J.R. Schnabel would have zero points thus far in the 2004 AMA Progressive Insurance Flat Track season.
Instead, the Memphis Shades/Parts Unlimited Yamaha rider shock-paddled himself back into the hunt after flat-lining since his season-opening Daytona Short Track win by landing his fifth career win at the same site of his third, the rodeo arena in the hollow adjacent to the fabled mile track at the Illinois State Fairgrounds.
Unlike Labor Day Weekend 2003, when Schnabel won the Springfield Short Track, tonight the venue was groomed for TT action. No matter, Schnabel won it the same way as he did at that Short Track, pulling the holeshot and leading every one of the 25 laps in the main event. He appeared to be in cruise mode by the halfway point in the race, as he pulled clear of Coziahr Harley-Davidson/National Cycles’ Johnny Murphree and KTM’s Joe Kopp. Fourth place went to Quality Checked Certified Pre-owned Ford Racing’s Chris Carr, the defending Progressive Insurance Flat Track Champion and current series point leader getting off the line second, only to be passed by Murphree and Kopp on the opening lap. Carr retains the series point lead, over Kopp, with Schnabel vaulting back to third from 10th.
Illinois rider Rob Pearson finished fifth at the TT tonight.
Last year’s Springfield TT winner, Audiovox/Quaker State rider Brett Landes, looked like he might be the man to beat after qualifying number one through the scratch heats. Instead, the Californian fell in his heat race and then returned in a semi, only to miss the main event by one spot.
Tonight’s race was the first in a doubleheader weekend at Springfield. Weather permitting, the Springfield Mile will run tomorrow.
Illinois State Fairgrounds
Results: May 29, 2004 (Round 4)
GRAND NATIONAL (25 laps; 18 riders): 1. J.R. Schnabel (Yam); 2. Johnny Murphree (H-D); 3. Joe Kopp (KTM); 4. Chris Carr (KTM); 5. Rob Pearson (Hon); 6. Henry Wiles (Hon); 7. Kenny Coolbeth (KTM); 8. Bryan Bigelow (Hon); 9. Nick Cummings (Hon); 10. Jake Johnson (Hon); 11. A.J. Eslick (Suz); 12. Mike Hacker (Hon); 13. Brandon Cartwright (Hon); 14. Gary Rogers (Hon); 15. Jared Mees (Hon); 16. Josh Butler (Yam); 17. Shaun Russell (Hon); 18. Rich King (H-D).
Time:12 min., 30.734 sec.
AMA PROGRESSIVE INSURANCE FLAT TRACK CHAMPIONSHIP POINT STANDINGS (After 4 of 19 rounds): 1. Chris Carr (75/2 wins); 2. Joe Kopp (53); 3. J.R. Schnabel (46/2 wins); 4. Jake Johnson (43); 5. Shaun Russell (41); 6. Mike Hacker (40); 7. Kenny Coolbeth (38); 8. Johnny Murphree (37); 9. Willie McCoy (34); 10. Brett Landes (27); 11. Bryan Smith (26); 12. Rob Pearson (22); 13. Jared Mees (19); 14. Gary Rogers (16); 15. Paul Lynch (14); 16. (TIE) Henry Wiles (13)/Jethro Halbert (13); 18. (TIE) Jimmy Wood (12)/Bryan Bigelow (12); 20. Jay Springsteen (1).