Like an ace pitcher, Quality Checked Certified Pre-Owned Ford-backed Chris Carr brought the heat on a cloudless day at the Illinois State Fairgrounds, and when that didn't appear as though it was going to be enough, he threw the competition a curve off the final turn that was good enough to net a fourth consecutive victory at the Springfield Mile.
Despite fantastic racing throughout the day, the event was marred by the death of AMA Grand National number 45 Jim Sumner, 32, of Milwaukee, Wisconsin, who crashed during the second practice session after losing control of his motorcycle in front of the main grandstand on the front straightaway. Sumner was unconscious when he was transported to Springfield Memorial Hospital. He never regained consciousness.
During the 25-lap main event, Carr ran as low as eighth on the opening lap before methodically picking his way through the stout competition ahead of him to lead the draft for the first time on lap 10. From there, he diced back and forth with Saddlemen Racing/National Cycle's Kevin Atherton, Coziahr Harley-Davidson/Country Motors' Johnny Murphree and Bartels' Harley-Davidson/Corbin's Jay Springsteen until American Honda's Nicky Hayden came calling with less than five laps to go, the Kentucky youngster searching to complete the prestigious Grand Slam by winning the mile.
Carr simply kept his cool, and when Atherton made a final run off turn four, Carr simply drove across the groove toward the wall and then turned up the straightaway to effectively block Atherton from getting a good drive. Carr took the win, followed by Atherton, Murphree, Hayden and Springsteen.
"Rich King showed me that move here a couple years ago," Carr said. "He invented it. The AMA rules say that we are allowed one move, so my move was toward the wall. Of course, you have to turn away from the wall. It's perfectly legal."
For his part, Atherton expressed only admiration for Carr's cagey move.
"I know I was the fastest rider out there, but it was a good move that Chris made," Atherton said. "I've been coming here for a lot of years, but that was the first time that I had seen that one."
Reigning class champion Bryan Smith outdueled main title rival Jake Johnson after a race-long drafting war in the 12-lap Harley-Davidson Sportster Performance Series final. Josh Toungett made his Springfield Mile debut a memorable one by landing third at the finish.
Illinois State Fairgrounds
Results: May 26, 2002 (Round 4 of of 20)
1. Chris Carr (H-D); 2. Kevin Atherton (H-D); 3. Johnny Murphree (H-D); 4. Nicky Hayden (Hon); 5. Jay Springsteen (H-D); 6. Kenny Coolbeth (H-D); 7. Kevin Varnes (H-D); 8. Joe Kopp (H-D); 9. Terry Poovey (Hon); 10. Bryan Bigelow (H-D); 11. Jake Johnson (H-D); 12. Shaun Russell (H-D); 13. Gary Rogers (H-D); 14. Dan Stanley (H-D); 15. Paul Lynch (H-D); 16. J.R. Schnabel (H-D); 17. Tim Eades (H-D); 18. Willie McCoy (H-D).
Time: 14 min., 36.595 sec.
Margin of Victory: 00.321 sec.
AMA/PROGRESSIVE INSURANCE U.S. FLAT TRACK C'SHIPS SERIES POINTS STANDINGS (After 4 of 20 rounds): 1. Chris Carr (56/1 win); 2. Kevin Varnes (50); 3. Kenny Coolbeth (47); 4. Johnny Murphree (46); 5. Nicky Hayden (38/1 win); 6. Joe Kopp (37); 7. Kevin Atherton (36); 8. Jay Springsteen (33); 9. Shaun Russell (32); 10. Terry Poovey (30); 11. Dan Stanley (29); 12. Mike Hacker (25/1 win); 13. (TIE) Rick Winsett (24/1 win)/J.R. Schnabel (24)/Bryan Bigelow (24); 16. Steve Beattie (22); 17. Tommy Hayden (19); 18. Bryan Smith (17); 19. Roger Lee Hayden (16); 20. Paul Lynch (13).
Upcoming Round: Hagerstown, Maryland, June 1