The next generation of the “Michigan Mafia” swept the podium in the rain-shortened 11th Annual Ben Campanale Laconia Half-Mile in Rochester, N.H., round two of the K&N Filters Formula USA Dirt Track Series.
Leading the trio was the wily veteran of the bunch, 19-year-old Bryan Smith (top photo). The American Honda/1st Racing-backed native of Flint, Michigan, got the jump on the 18-rider field and was never headed, though he was pressured on the eighth lap, what would become the halfway point in the race, by TCR Racing’s Honda-mounted Nicholas Cummings (bottom photo).
Cummings couldn’t make the pass and as the rain began to intensify, and the track turned into a quagmire, vision became a problem and F-USA officials shortened the race, originally scheduled for 25 laps, from 20 laps to 16, giving the riders two laps notice at the end of their 14th go-around. By then, mud on the visor had forced Cummings to back off and everyone would be happy to see the white last lap flag.
“I was getting dirt on my shield and not being able to choose the right line because of lappers,” Smith said after winning his third F-USA main. “If it’d been 25 laps, it definitely would’ve been hard to hold on those last few laps.”
In his second pro race, Cummings, 16, from Mt. Morris, Michigan, finished second, 1.623 seconds back, with fellow 16-year-old Logan Myers, of Wheeler, Michigan, third in his pro racing debut aboard the Ultimate Edge Racing Honda.
“These guys have been right behind me my whole career,” Smith said. “I’m 19, they’re 16. When I’d move up, they’d move up to the class I was just in, so I never really got to race them until now, so it’s awesome. Another three years, when they’re 19, I’ll probably be chasing them down.”
The rain pared the field down from 39 riders to 31, with a number of riders flying out to Illinois for Saturday night’s round of the AMA’s Progressive Insurance Dirt Track Series in Granite City, Illinois. Among the riders who left Rochester was Kenny Coolbeth. With Coolbeth gone, and Smith winning, Smith was able to take over the Pro Singles Points Standings lead with 66, to Coolbeth's 44.
With the Rochester Half-Mile being the first round of the Grand National Championship, Smith takes the early lead with 25 points, to 20 for Cummings, and 16 for Myers. The standings will certainly change after Sunday's running of the Loudon Classic, the second of the 10 rounds that make up the GNC.
Missing the dirt track, and likely the road race, was Kneedraggers.com's Matt Wait. Wait crashed his Yamaha R-6 hard in qualifying, possibly breaking ribs and a shoulder blade.
1. Bryan Smith (Honda)
2. Nicholas Cummings (Honda)
3. Logan Myers (Honda)
4. Rob Pearson (Honda)
5. John Hlebo (Honda)
6. Jimmy Wood Jr. (Honda)
7. Shane Livingston (Honda)
8. Scooter Vernon (Honda)
9. Nate Wait (Honda)
10. Dan Stanley (Honda)