The 36-year-old Davis used a low line to snatch the lead away from dirt track icon Jay Springsteen on lap nine of the 25-lap Grand National feature and then fended off a relentless attack from a hot-riding Kenny Coolbeth in the last five laps, crossing the finish line mere inches ahead of the Corbin Racing/Harley-Davidson of Missouri rider, who made a frantic end-run around the outside of Davis in an effort to steal his own first career win. Instead, it was sweet redemption, for Davis, who was forced to miss the inaugural running of the race a year ago after suffering a critical head injury in a bizarre accident while playing softball.
“It’s like I’ve told people before, that accident was just meant to be,” Davis said. “And now this was meant to be. It couldn’t have been any better, with the finish that close. It’s just unreal. This year, we started thinking, ‘What are we doing wrong?’ But then when the chips are down, we come through. I just can’t explain it.”
Coolbeth’s teammate, reigning Progressive Insurance U.S. Flat Track Champion Joe Kopp was third, and thus regained the series points lead from main title rival Chris Carr, whose seventh-place finish capped a seemingly impossible comeback after the two-time series champ fell in traffic on the opening lap and then watched helplessly as his motorcycle burst into flames in turn four. Carr’s Harley-Davidson of Sacramento mechanic Kenny Tolbert – with a little help from his friends – somehow managed to get the motorcycle back in running order so that Carr could rejoin the field for the restart. Carr then put on a passing clinic, on a track where almost everyone was going fast, to limit the championship points swing to just four. Kopp now leads Carr, 180-178.
Defending event champion Mike Hacker battled for the lead in the tight, six-rider pack that established a torrid pace on the rocket-fast, red-clay track, but there was to be no repeat for the Saddlemen Racing/Lancaster Harley-Davidson rider, who wound up fourth at the finish. Memphis Shades/Coziahr Harley-Davidson’s Johnny Murphree was also a part of that pack, ultimately finishing fifth, one spot ahead of Bartels’ Harley-Davidson/Corbin’s Springsteen, who slipped to sixth after chunking a tire. Behind Carr, Performance Harley-Davidson’s/Adkins Racing rider Chris Hart finished a career-best eighth, ahead of Moroney’s Harley-Davidson rider Paul Morgan III and Team Powell/Harley-Davidson of West Bend rider J.R. Schnabel. Team Harley-Davidson’s Rich King suffered a disappointing night, finishing 14th in the main event.
Series champion Willie McCoy rode his DPC Racing/Kegel’s Harley-Davidson Sportster to a potentially pivotal win in the 12-lap Harley-Davidson Sportster Performance Series final. Davis was battling series points leader Paul Morgan III for the lead when Morgan lost the front end in turn three and crashed. Morgan would get up to finish 17th – dead last. Series newcomer Jake Johnson finished an impressive second. Bryan Smith was third.
Here are the main event results and series points standings from the Dirt Track at Lowe’s Motor Speedway.
GRAND NATIONAL (25 laps; 18 riders): 1. Will Davis (H-D); 2. Kenny Coolbeth (H-D); 3. Joe Kopp (H-D); 4. Mike Hacker (H-D); 5. Johnny Murphree (H-D); 6. Jay Springsteen (H-D); 7. Chris Carr (H-D); 8. Chris Hart (H-D); 9. Paul Morgan III (H-D); 10. J.R. Schnabel (H-D); 11. Paul Lynch (H-D); 12. Geo Roeder II (H-D); 13. Willie McCoy (H-D); 14. Rich King (H-D); 15. Tim Eades (H-D); 16. John Nickens III (H-D); 17. Steve Beattie (H-D); 18. Greg Tysor (Suz).
Time: 8 min., 02.331 sec.
AMA/PROGRESSIVE INSURANCE U.S. FLAT TRACK CHAMPIONSHIP SERIES POINTS STANDINGS (After 11 of 20 rounds): 1. Joe Kopp (180/1 win); 2. Chris Carr (178/4 wins); 3. Will Davis (130/2 wins); 4. Rich King (123/1 win); 5. Kenny Coolbeth (117); 6. Mike Hacker (99); 7. Johnny Murphree (85); 8. Jay Springsteen (83); 9. J.R. Schnabel (82/1 win); 10. Geo Roeder II (68); 11. Bryan Bigelow (68); 12. Willie McCoy (56); 13. Terry Poovey (55); 14. Kevin Varnes (49); 15. Steve Beattie (44); 16. Nicky Hayden (38); 17. Shawn Clark (35); 18. Shaun Russell (33); 19. Brett Landes (25); 20. Tommy Hayden (23).
HDSP (12 laps; 17 riders): 1. Willie McCoy; 2. Jake Johnson; 3. Bryan Smith. 4. Scott Sherb; 5. Brian Thomas; 6. Yuhiko Hirao; 7. Brian Kromroy; 8. James Hart; 9. A.J. Eslick; 10. Jason Tyer; 11. Michelle Disalvo; 12. Shane Fox; 13. Victor MacAnally; 14. Timmy Mitchell; 15. Jeff Landrum; 16. Stephanie Welch; 17. Paul Morgan III.
Time: 4 min., 05.321 sec.
AMA/HARLEY-DAVIDSON SPORTSTER PERFORMANCE SERIES POINTS STANDINGS (After 4 of 8 rounds): 1. Willie McCoy (58/1 win); 2. Bryan Smith (55/1 win); 3. Paul Morgan III (45/1 win); 4. Scott Scherb (44); 5. James Hart (43); 6. Brian Thomas (30); 7. Victor MacAnally (29); 8. Brian Kromroy (24); 9. (TIE) Michelle Disalvo (23)/Jason Tyer (23); 11. John Faulkner III (23); 12. Wiley Duane Duvall (21); 13. Jake Johnson (19); 14. (TIE) Jeff Landrum (16)/Yuhiko Hirao (16); 16. Kyle Long (14); 17. Timmy Mitchell (13); 18. A.J. Eslick (11); 19. (TIE) Shane Fox (9)/Mark Witham (9).