After scoring a tear-jerker of a win in front of his homestate fans at the Charlotte Half Mile a week ago, Davis and mechanic Mike Wheeler had the mojo once again at Harrington. After fiddling with tire choices – which proved to be a real speed secret at Harrington – in practice, Davis was not defeated all night, winning his scratch heat, setting fast time in his regular heat race, and then showing the field his heels in the oft-restarted Grand National feature. Davis nabbed the holeshot each time from his perch just outside of low pole starter Chris Carr, and each time he drove away, leaving Carr and the rest of the field in his wake. His lead over Carr, who finished second, was nearly half a straightaway when he rocketed under AMA starter Poochie Cox’s checkered flag to nail the lid on the 25-lapper.
“I can’t be any happier, especially the way that things have been going lately,” Davis said. “This is what it’s all about. I’m speechless, really. This is the first pea-gravel track that I’ve won on since Lima in ’89. I got a first-place trophy here during the rainout in ’96, but that doesn’t count. That was a brand new motorcycle we rode tonight. That’s the first National that I’ve won on it. Chris showed me a wheel early, and I thought I was going to be in a race, but then the next lap, I looked back, and I had 10 bike lengths on him.”
Carr’s stout second-place finish – coupled with a sixth-place finish by reiging AMA Grand National Champion Joe Kopp, who crashed in the early going, caused a red flag, and then had to charge from the back just to get sixth – meant that the Harley-Davidson of Sacramento/Phoenix Racing rider once again took over the series points lead. Carr now leads Kopp, 197-193, in what has become a see-saw battle for supremacy. KK Motorcycle Supply/Las Vegas Harley-Davidson’s cushion-master general Geo Roeder II was on his game at Harrington, and finished third, about a dozen lengths behind Carr at the finish. Corbin/Samson’s Nicky Hayden showed up and finished fourth in the main event. American Harley-Davidson Inc./KK’s Chris Evans, another cushion specialist, came home fifth.
It was a sad night for Corbin Racing’s Kenny Coolbeth, as the Connecticut rider, who had landed two-runner-up finishes in the last two consecutive rounds, survived a scary-looking crash on the front straightaway that saw him skid off the track and onto an access road at the entrance to turn one. Coolbeth got up from the incident, but was taken to Milford Medical Center to be treated for two broken hands. The left hand, which he injured at the SFX-promoted Indy Mile little more than a year ago, is the most severely damaged, Coolbeth suffering a severed tendon in his ring finger. The injuries are likely to put him out of action for much of the rest of the season.
Other hard-luck stories on the night involved Bartels’ Harley-Davidson’s Jay Springsteen, who grenaded a transmission just as the second red flag – this one for Kopp – was thrown. Springer was credited with 17th. Memphis Shades/Coziahr Harley-Davidson’s Kevin Varnes was back in action for the first time since suffering a broken left foot in his crash at the Superior, Wisconsin, Half Mile. Varnes made the main event, but he was forced to pull off when the injury was aggravated.
Gardner Racing rider Bryan Bigelow assuaged his frustrations of failing to make the Grand National final by cutting loose on of Randy Texter’s Lancaster Harley-Davidson Buell’s in the 12-lap SuperTrapp SuperTracker final, which was run after the complete 750 program due to the threat of – you guessed it – rain. Bigelow quickly left behind a great second-place battle, between Team Powell Suzuki rider J.R. Schnabel and Suzuki-mounted Willie McCoy to take the win by over half a straightaway even after backing off to preserve the bike. Schabel went to finish second. KK/F&S Suzuki’s McCoy was third.
Here are the main event results and series points standings from Harrington.
GRAND NATIONAL (25 laps; 18 riders): 1. Will Davis (H-D; 2. Chris Carr (H-D); 3. Geo Roeder II (H-D); 4. Nicky Hayden (H-D); 5. Chris Evans (H-D); 6. Joe Kopp (H-D); 7. Rich King (H-D); 8. Shawn Clark (H-D); 9. Steve Beattie (H-D); 10. Jess Roeder (H-D); 11. J.R. Schnabel (H-D); 12. Willie McCoy (H-D); 13. Johnny Murphree (H-D); 14. Chris Hart (H-D); 15. George Richtmeyer (H-D); 16. Kevin Varnes (H-D); 17. Jay Springsteen (H-D); 18. Kenny Coolbeth (H-D).
Time: 23 min., 17.560 sec.
AMA/PROGRESSIVE INSURANCE U.S. FLAT TRACK CHAMPIONSHIPS SERIES POINTS STANDINGS (After 12 of 20 rounds): 1. Chris Carr (197/4 wins); 2. Joe Kopp (193/1 win); 3. Will Davis (153/3 wins); 4. Rich King (135/1 win); 5. Kenny Coolbeth (118); 6. Mike Hacker (99); 7. Johnny Murphree (91); 8. J.R. Schnabel (90/1 win); 9. Jay Springsteen (85); 10. Geo Roeder II (84); 11. Bryan Bigelow (68); 12. Willie McCoy (63); 13. Terry Poovey (55); 14. Steve Beattie (54); 15. Nicky Hayden (53); 16. Kevin Varnes (52); 17. Shawn Clark (46); 18. Shaun Russell (33); 19. Chris Evans (28); 20. Jess Roeder (27).
AMA/SUPERTRAPP SUPERTRACKER NATIONAL (12 laps; 16 riders): 1. Bryan Bigeloe (Bue); 2. J.R. Schnabel (Suz); 3. Willie McCoy (Suz); 4. Sam Lowe (Suz); 5. Jason Tyer (Suz); 6. George Richtmeyer (Suz); 7. Brandon Lee Cartwright (Suz); 8. Gary Rogers (Suz); 9. Joe Duvall (Suz); 10. Brian Thomas (Bue); 11. Scott Scherb (H-D); 12. Roy Miller (Suz); 13. Jerry Vanderkooi (Suz); 14. Mike Hacker (Bue); 15. Kenny Coolbeth (Suz); 16. Joe Kopp (Suz).
Time: 5 min., 20.625 sec.
AMA SUPERTRAPP SUPERTRACKER SERIES POINTS STANDINGS (After 6 of 8 rounds): 1. Bryan Bigelow (95/3 wins); 2. J.R. Schnabel (87); 3. Sam Lowe (80); 4. Kenny Coolbeth (66/2 wins); 5. (TIE) Mike Hacker (59)/Willie McCoy (59); 7. Scott Scherb (58); 8. Greg Teague (57/1 win); 9. Joe Kopp (56); 10. Jason Tyer (55); 11. Brian Thomas (53); 12. Gary Rogers (50); 13. Joe Duvall (44); 14. George Richtmeyer (42); 15. Roy Miller (39); 16. Bryan Smith (36); 17. Steve Liberty (26); 18. Brian Kromroy (25); 19. (TIE) Jerry Vanderkooi (12)/Brandon Lee Cartwright (12).