The 19-year-old road racer from Kentucky hustled his Tom Cummings-tuned, Michigan Harley Dealers Association/Rod Lake-sponsored Rotax behind race-long leader Will Davis around the tacky, cushioned short track at the Illinois State Fairgrounds’ spartan new rodeo arena and then electrified the 5000+ fans in attendance by going on the attack around the outside of Davis. Hayden took the lead on the back straightaway, but Davis fought back, squaring up underneath the kid and retaking the point for the next lap. Hayden then got back underneath Davis in turns three and four and held him off for the remaining three laps to score a popular victory, as evidenced by the screaming ovation of the crowd. In winning, Hayden added a short track victory to his half mile win and his Superbike wins, making him a potential, if unlikely, candidate to score an AMA grand slam (wins in National road race, mile, half mile, short track, TT competition).
“Winning road races is fun, but it’s kind of like it’s my job,” Hayden said. “When I come to the dirt tracks, I don’t think that anyone expects me to win, so that makes it even more fun. I was so happy to win tonight for Tom Cummings, and for Marlon Hart – one of my sponsors who probably had as big an impact on my career as anybody outside my parents. He was here to see this, and my whole family was here. That makes this really special.”
Davis went on to finish second, with Sedalia Half Mile winner Joe Kopp adding another podium finish to his season by coming from row two to finish third, ahead of Rich King and Bryan Bigelow.
Here are the main event results from the Springfield Short Track Shootout:
GRAND NATIONAL (25 laps; 16 riders): 1. Nicky Hayden (Rtx); 2. Will Davis (ATK); 3. Joe Kopp (Rtx); 4. Rich King (H-D); 5. Bryan Bigelow (Rtx); 6. Chris Carr (Rtx); 7. Brett Landes (ATK); 8. Mike Hacker (Rtx); 9. J.R. Schnabel (W-R); 10. Chris Evans (Rtx); 11. Dan Stanley (Rtx); 12. Scott Parker (H-D); 13. Paul Lynch (Rtx); 14. Kenny Coolbeth (W-R); 15. Charlie Orr (CCM); 16. Johnny Murphree (Rtx).
Time: 6 mins., 05.438.
AMA/PROGRESSIVE INSURANCE U.S. FLAT TRACK CHAMPIONSHIPS SERIES POINTS STANDINGS (After 11 of 15 rounds): 1. Chris Carr (160/3); 2. Joe Kopp (157/1); 3. Will Davis (153/3); 4. Mike Hacker (138/1); 5. Bryan Bigelow (137); 6. Rich King (131); 7. Kenny Coolbeth (107); 8. (TIE) Dan Stanley (94)/Jay Springsteen (94/1); 10. Terry Poovey (83); 11. J.R. Schnabel (70); 12. Johnny Murphree (66)/ Nicky Hayden (66); 14. Kevin Varnes (65); 15. Geo Roeder II (64); 16. Paul Lynch (56); 17. Willie McCoy (42); 18. Brett Landes (33); 19. Chris Evans (32); 20. Michael Varnes (25).
Round 12 – Springfield, Illinois, September 2
Round 13 – Springfield, Illinois, September 3