It was just like old times, but with a new twist.
Making what could possibly be his last appearance at the Springfield Mile, the "retired" Scott Parker capped off a huge weekend of AMA Grand National dirt track racing by scoring his 94th career GNC victory before a soldout crowd at the Illinois State Fairgrounds, crossing the line first to bag his 14th Springfield Mile. Parker's win came as the result of a hastily perfected, rather cagey maneuver in the final two laps of the race.
After struggling at yesterday's Hall of Fame Grand National on the same racetrack, Parker was a player from the beginning today, running in a lead draft that included Hall of Fame podium finishers Will Davis and Joe Kopp along with young stars Mike Hacker and Johnny Murphree, and Parker's factory Harley-Davidson teammate Rich King. Previous day's winner Will Davis and reigning AMA Grand National Champion Chris Carr ran just behind the lead pack, and they nearly caught it until they were forced to check up and play it cautious after Hacker's bike began to let go. Hacker was black-flagged when the frontrunners received the five-lap sign. He would be credited with 15th place.
It all came down to King, Parker, Kopp and Murphree in the final few laps. Then, on lap 24, Parker dropped about as low as he could off turn four, running all by himself up the front straightaway while King, Kopp and Murphree took the more traditional line against the wall. Parker repeated the maneuver on the final lap, but this time Kopp went with him, catapulting both riders past King at the finish line as the crowd went ballistic.
"They drafted me out against the wall every time," Parker said. "I knew that I had to go low. I had to do something different."
A different move led to a familiar result, and the woo woo woos once again rang out from the top of the podium.
"I don't know if this is going to be my last race or not, but I wanted to thank the IMDA and DM Promotions (promoters of the Lima Half Mile) for making it feasible to come to a few races this year," Parker said. "I guess what's most important is that we got to come back and win one more for the fans."
Kopp's third successive podium finish of the weekend moved him into the series points lead. He now sits a mere five marks ahead of Davis, who was fifth today, 195-190. Carr sits in third place, with a 187 points, but with the current number one scheduled to miss the next round at Vernon, New York, it is probable that the prestigious plate will pass on to either Davis or Kopp.
King took the third spot, with Murphree finishing fourth.
Here are the results and series points standings as of the conclusion of the Springfield tripleheader weekend:
GRAND NATIONAL (25 laps; 18 riders): 1. Scott Parker (H-D); 2. Joe Kopp (H-D); 3. Rich King (H-D); 4. Johnny Murphree (H-D); 5. Will Davis (H-D); 6. Chris Carr (H-D); 7. Nicky Hayden (H-D); 8. Willie McCoy (H-D); 9. Larry Pegram (H-D); 10. Gary Rogers (H-D); 11. Paul Morgan III (H-D); 12. Geo Roeder II (H-D); 13. Kevin Varnes (H-D); 14. Kenny Coolbeth (H-D); 15. Mike Hacker (H-D); 16. Shaun Russell (H-D); 17. Terry Poovey (Hon); 18. Chris Evans (H-D).
Time: 14 mins., 25.200 secs.
AMA/PROGRESSIVE INSURANCE U.S. FLAT TRACK CHAMPIONSHIP SERIES POINTS STANDINGS (After 13 of 15 rounds): 1. Joe Kopp (195/1); 2. Will Davis (190/4); 3. Chris Carr (187/3); 4. Rich King (162); 5. Bryan Bigelow (145); 6. Mike Hacker (144/1); 7. Kenny Coolbeth (125); 8. Jay Springsteen (104/1); 9. Terry Poovey (101/1); 10. Dan Stanley (94); 11. Nicky Hayden (84/1); 12. Johnny Murphree (81); 13. Geo Roeder II (76); 14. J.R. Schnabel (73); 15. Kevin Varnes (71); 16. Willie McCoy (62); 17. Paul Lynch (56); 18. Scott Parker (53); 19. (TIE) Chris Evans (33)/Brett Landes (33).
Round 14 - Vernon, New York, September 9