Some people insist on calling the AMA/Progressive Insurance U.S. Flat Track Championships season-opening Daytona Short Trackat Daytona Municipal Stadium a crapshoot. Patriot Harley-Davidson/Mom & Dad-backed Rick Winsett Jr. can now call it a dream come true.
The 23-year-old Pennsylvanian scored an incredible upset victory in only his second career Grand National main event to place his name with the likes of legendary short trackers Will Davis and Terry Poovey as a Daytona Short Track winner tonight. After winning his heat race to qualify for the 16-rider, 25-lap main event, Winsett bolted into second place from his spot on the front row, following 2000 AMA U.S. Flat Track Champion Joe Kopp for all of a lap before ducking underneath him in turns one and two and taking the lead on the sandy quarter mile. From there, Winsett cruised in complete control until late in the race when two-time winner Poovey – battered and bruised from a crash the day before – moved up to challenge Winsett for the last five laps. Poovey shadowed Winsett on the last lap, but his bid for victory came up short by a wheel at the line. Afterward, Winsett had difficulty in finding the words to describe his elation.
“This is just great,” Winsett said. “I love it. I didn’t expect it, but I did it, and I’m happy.”
Third place went to Memphis Shades/Parts Unlimited’s Kevin Varnes, who ran a solid race after starting from the second row in the main event. Friday night Hot Shoe winner Johnny Murphree was fourth aboard his Coziahr Harley-Davidson/Country Motors Trailers-backed Rotax. Defending U.S. Flat Track Champion Chris Carr worked his way through the pack from the back row to finish fifth. Here are the results and points standings from tonight’s main event:
Daytona Municipal Stadium
Daytona Beach, Florida
Results: March 9, 2002 (Round 1 of 20)
GRAND NATIONAL (25 laps; 16 riders): 1. Rick Winsett Jr. (Rtx); 2. Terry Poovey (ATK); 3. Kevin Varnes (CCM); 4. Johnny Murphree (Rtx); 5. Chris Carr (Rtx); 6. Shaun Russell (CCM); 7. Bryan Bigelow (Rtx); 8. Joe Kopp (KTM); 9. Kenny Coolbeth (Rtx); 10. A.J. Eslick (Rtx); 11. J.R. Schnabel (CCM); 12. Dan Stanley (Rtx); 13. Joe Eades (Rtx); 14. Bryan Smith (ATK); 15. Sam Lowe (Rtx); 16. Kevin Atherton (Hon).
Time: 8 min., 36.406 sec.
Margin of victory: N/A
AMA/PROGRESSIVE INSURANCE U.S. FLAT TRACK CHAMPIONSHIPS SERIES POINTS STANDINGS (After round 1 of 20): 1. Rick Winsett Jr. (23/1 win); 2. Terry Poovey (19); 3. Kevin Varnes (16); 4. Johnny Murphree (15); 5. Chris Carr (14); 6. Shaun Russell (13); 7. Bryan Bigelow (12); 8. Joe Kopp (11); 9. Kenny Coolbeth (10); 10. A.J. Eslick (9); 11. J.R. Schnabel (8); 12. Dan Stanley (7); 13. Joe Eades (6); 14. Bryan Smith (5); 15. Sam Lowe (4); 16. Kevin Atherton (3).