King Wins AMA Vernon Half Mile

| September 10, 2000
Rich King captured his first Grand National win since joining the factory Harley-Davidson rcing team when he took the win at the Vernon Half Mile in Vernon, New York, on September 9. It has taken King all year, and the victory came at the most unlikely venue on the AMA’s Progressive Insurance U.S. Flat Track Championships series schedule, but King dominated the main event on the pea gravel-like, Vernon Downs mile oval.

Early morning rains had jeopardized the first time event, but the rains stopped just before noon and the racing started right on time.

Coziahr H-D / Memphis Shades’ Johnny Murphree led the main into turn one and around for the end of lap one, but that was it. King sailed by, bringing Mike Hacker along. Hacker was all over King on his Saddlemen/Lancaster H-D/Dodge Brother Harley. Five laps in, Hacker started to fade, and his bike went dead on lap 14, allowing King to pull to a comfortable lead. King stretched that lead even further as Murphree and Joe Kopp battled back and forth, Coolbeth slipped back and cruised in fourth. King and Coolbeth were virtually the only riders on the track alone.

It appeared that series points leader Kopp would have to settle for third, but on the last lap Murphree got into turn one too hard and lost the front end. Kopp pounced on this opportunity to take second and the 19 points that go with it. Murphree held on for third, with Coolbeth well behind him. Coming from nowhere, Willie McCoy blasted his F&S H-D/Shoei/MSR-backed Harley into fifth on the last lap. McCoy’s charge took both Nicky Hayden and Kevin Varnes by surprise, as McCoy had come from well off the pace.

Title contender Will Davis struggled with equipment all day and ended up a disappointing 10th on his Moroney’s H-D/ Erector’s Harley.

Kopp now controls his own fate in the fight to be AMA Grand National Champion. He now holds a 15-point lead over Davis with only one race remaining. Defending Grand National Champion, Chris Carr was eliminated from the chase while he participated in a Formula USA race on the West Coast.

Earlier in the night, Kopp locked up the SuperTrapp SuperTracker Series. The main had seen Mike Hacker push his Saddlemen Racing/Lancaster H-D-backed Buell to the front, but just as he crossed the start inish line, his hand shot into the air and his race as well as his shot at the title went up in smoke.

Kopp got conservative late in the race, and Chris Evans ran him down on his’s H-D-backed Harley. Evans took the lead on lap 10, and after a brief challenge, Kopp settled in to second to clinch his second SuperTrapp SuperTracker Series title. Kopp holds a 25-point lead with one race to go.

Here are the results from the main events and the series points standings as of the Vernon, New York round:

Vernon Downs
Vernon, New York
Results: September 9, 2000 (Round 14 of 15)
GRAND NATIONAL (25 laps; 18 riders): 1. Rich King (H-D); 2. Joe Kopp (H-D); 3. Johnny Murphree (H-D); 4. Ken Coolbeth Jr. (H-D); 5. Willie McCoy (H-D); 6. Nicky Hayden (H-D); 7. Kevin Varnes (H-D); 8. Geo Roeder II (H-D); 9. Terry Poovey (Hon); 10. Will Davis (H-D); 11. Mike Varnes (H-D); 12. Kevin Atherton (H-D); 13. Ricky Winsett Jr. (H-D); 14. John Nickens III (H-D); 15. Chris Hart (H-D); 16. Mike Hacker (H-D); 17. Steve Beattie (H-D); 18. Jess Roeder (H-D).
Time: 12 min., 10.014 sec.
AMA/PROGRESSIVE INSURANCE U.S. FLAT TRACK CHAMPIONSHIP SERIES POINTS STANDINGS (After 14 of 15 rounds) 1. Joe Kopp (214/1 win); 2. Will Davis (199/4); 3. Chris Carr (187/3); 4. Rich King (185/1); 5. Mike Hacker (147/1); 6. Bryan Bigelow (145); 7. Ken Coolbeth Jr. (140); 8. Terry Poovey (111/1); 9. Jay Springsteen (104/1); 10. (TIE) Nicky Hayden (97/1)/Johnny Murphree (97); 12. Dan Stanley (94); 13. Geo Roeder II (87); 14. Kevin Varnes (83); 15. Willie McCoy (76); 16. J.R. Schnabel (73); 17. Paul Lynch (56); 18. Scott Parker (53); 19. Mike Varnes (37); 20. (TIE) Chris Evans (33)/Brett Landes (33).

SUPERTRAPP SUPERTRACKER SERIES NATIONAL (12 laps; 11 riders): 1. Chris Evans (H-D); 2. Joe Kopp (Suz); 3. Ken Coolbeth Jr. (Suz); 4. Willie McCoy (Suz); 5. Brian Kromroy (Bue); 6. Roy Miller (Suz); 7. Jerry Vanderkooi (Suz); 8. Bob Buffington (Suz); 9. Brian Thomas (Bue); 10. George Richtmeyer Jr. (Suz); 11. Mike Hacker (Bue).
Time: 7 min., 28.639 sec.
SUPERTRAPP SUPERTRACKER SERIES POINTS STANDINGS (After 6 of 7 rounds) 1. Joe Kopp (103/2 wins); 2. Mike Hacker (78/2); 3. Willie McCoy (71); 4. J.R. Schnabel (64); 5. Brian Kromroy (54); 6. Brian Thomas (48); 7. Roy Miller (45); 8. Ken Coolbeth Jr. (38); 9. (TIE) George Richtmeyer (36)/Bob Buffington (36); 11. Jerry Vanderkooi (35); 12. Michelle Disalvo (33); 13. Paul Morgan III (32); 14. Jason Sentell (30); 15. Gary Rogers (24); 16. Chris Evans (23/1); 17. Robert Miller (21); 18. Jason Tyer (16); 19. Kye Long (14); 20. Paul Bergstrom (12).
Upcoming Round:
Round 15 – Du Quoin, Illinois, October 14


By Dave Hoenig