Due to the injuries that he suffered at the Lima Half Mile, Team Harley-Davidson’s Rich King will not be competing at the Springfield Short Track on July 6 – that’s the bad news. The good news, if you choose to look at it that way, is that King himself has come up with a suitable replacement rider for the Springfield Short Track.
None other than three-time AMA Grand National Champion Jay Springsteen will be aboard a Bill Werner-tuned factory bike one more time at Springfield, taking his place in the line-up aboard one of the factory’s Buell Blast-powered Harley-Davidson 500Rs. Although Springer himself was unavailable for comment, according to Werner, having him aboard the bike is a no-brainer.
“Jay and the company have always had what you might call a mutual aid agreement,” Werner said. “We have always tried to help him out whenever we could, and he has always tried to help us out whenever he could. This company has always been loyal to its people, and Jay is still someone that we hold in very high regard. It just so happens that we have an empty motorcycle, and he is available, so it should be an interesting night. Obviously, regardless of what happens, we’re going to be winners from the historical standpoint.”
The pair almost were winners after such an agreement once before at Springfield. That historic occasion took place in 1996, when Springsteen rode one of Scott Parker’s factory bikes and led much of the main event en route to a fourth-place finish. You might say that this is an opportunity for Springsteen to return the favor.
As for the temporary loss of King, Werner understandably takes no joy.
“We’re really bummed that Rich can’t ride,” Werner said. “He had a really good result aboard the Blast at the short track last year, and I know that he was really looking forward to riding it there this year. He sort of had a hot streak going with Oklahoma City and then being the fastest rider at Lima before that crash. But it is in his best interest to come back only when he is ready. We don’t expect him back until he is, and when he is, then his bikes are waiting for him. Rich was the one who suggested that Jay ride the bikes. I think that says a lot about Rich.”