The following is a true statement: When Team Harley-Davidson’s Rich King has failed to win a round of the Wrenchead.com National Dirt Track Series, it is only because he has not shown up. That’s because every time that he has shown up, he has won.
King kept that record intact when he not only won but dominated the eighth round of the Formula USA-sanctioned series at the Cal-Expo State Fairgrounds in Sacramento, California, on September 23, to claim his fourth Wrenchead.com National win in four attempts.
King battled briefly with Corbin Racing/H-D of Missouri’s Joe Kopp, Bartels’ H-D/Corbin/VHT’s Jay Springsteen and Wrenchead.com/H-D of Sacramento’s Chris Carr before checking out on about the third lap and constantly putting distance between himself and the rest of the field. King dodged the holes and dealt with the inconsistencies on a Sacramento track that was regarded by the majority of riders as being in the poorest condition that they’ve seen in years. The surface broke up badly in turn one, and at least one of King’s speed secrets included taking an extremely high line into that corner; he picked up a couple tenths a lap with that trick.
The poor conditions, which appeared to cast a pall on the event – at least from the riders’ point of view – were a major part of the story on this evening. With the track almost ready for practice around 5 p.m. the Formula USA track maintenance crew made the call to dump a load of magnesium chloride all the way around the mile. According to Formula USA officials, the chemical, which is supposedly designed to seal the surface, has been used at the facility for years, but the dumping had left oily rainbow-like puddles on the surface. The folly left the track completely unrideable, forcing the track crew to use graders to scrape the fouled top layer off the track. The attendant delay meant that no motorcycle turned a wheel for practice until well after 7 p.m. A 10:30 p.m. curfew forced officials to make a number of running changes to the program in order to speed up the program. But the show did go on, and the riders put on a race that entertained the capacity crowd.
With King pulling out to a half straightaway lead by the end of the main event, which was shortened to 20 laps, the real race was for second place. Kopp utilized the horsepower of his Seattle Mile-winning Suzuki TL1000 to great advantage, even though Springsteen and Carr were able to hang right with him in the corners, to pull out second place as the three engaged in a drafting battle right to the wire. Springsteen finished third, with Carr back just about two bike lengths in fourth. After running in the lead early, Saddlemen Racing/Lancaster H-D/Dodge Brothers’ Mike Hacker finished fifth.
Here are the results and current series points standings as of the Sacramento Mile:
NATIONAL (20 laps; 18 riders): 1. Rich King (H-D); 2. Joe Kopp (Suz); 3. Jay Springsteen (H-D); 4. Chris Carr (H-D); 5. Mike Hacker (H-D); 6. Nicky Hayden (H-D); 7. Bryan Bigelow (H-D); 8. Kenny Coolbeth (H-D); 9. Johnny Murphree (H-D); 10. Geo Roeder II (H-D); 11. J.R. Schnabel (H-D); 12. Terry Poovey (Hon); 13. Willie McCoy (H-D); 14. Larry Pegram (H-D); 15. Kevin Varnes (H-D); 16. Dale Jenneman (H-D); 17. Paul Lynch (H-D); 18. Will Davis (H-D).
Time: 12 min., 48.752 sec.
FORMULA USA/WRENCHEAD.COM NATIONAL DIRT TRACK SERIES (After 8 of 10 rounds): 1. Chris Carr (522/1 win); 2. Jay Springsteen (454); 3. J.R. Schnabel (443); 4. Gary Rogers (394); 5. Joe Kopp (352/1); 6. Rich King (330/4); 7. Dan Stanley (329); 8. Mike Hacker (316); 9. (TIE) Kenny Coolbeth (303)/Geo Roeder II (303); 11. Jason Tyer (296); 12. Terry Poovey (262/1); 13. (TIE) Will Davis (232/1)/Willie McCoy (232); 15. Johnny Murphree (212); 16. Shaun Russell (204); 17. Michael Varnes (188); 18. Greg Tysor (176); 19. Dale Jenneman (174); 20. (TIE) Don Wilson (164)/Beau Brown (164).
Round 9 – Phoenix, Arizona, September 30
Round 10 – Del Mar, California, October 8