Murphree Strikes First

| March 8, 2002
Coziahr Harley-Davidson/Stamper Black Hills Gold rider Johnny Murphree pulled off an amazing come-from-behind charge tonight to win the 15-lap, 16-rider 505cc Expert main event during the AMA National Hot Shoe round that precedes the AMA/Progressive Insurance U.S. Flat Track Championships opener at Daytona Municipal Stadium.

After finishing a disappointing fourth in his heat race, Murphree came back to win the first semi and land a spot on the inside of the last row for the main event. It was all the advantage he needed, as he worked his Mike Wheeler-tuned Rotax up high and rode around the competition to challenge BBRP/Circle F Racing Frames’ Dan Stanley for the lead on lap seven. Murphree then dipped under Stanley and pulled away to a convincing victory.

“This was the result of hard work and a well set-up bike,” Murphree said. “We did our job. “This was really cool for Mike Wheeler, too,” Murphree said in reference to the fact that Wheeler won the last dirt track event held at Municipal Stadium – the 2001 U.S. Flat Track opener – with the late Will Davis. “That was in the back of my mind. We’re even pitted in the same spot that Mike and Will were last year. It may not be the big night, but we won at Daytona.”

Murphree was followed across the line by promising rookie Jake Johnson, who was aboard a Moroney’s Harley-Davidson Rotax. SuperTrapp/Moroney’s-backed Mike Hacker finished third. The complete main event results are as follows:

Daytona Municipal Stadium
Daytona Beach, Florida
Results: March 8, 2002 (Round 3 of 6)
HOT SHOE NATIONAL (20 laps; 16 riders): 1. Johnny Murphree (Rtx); 2. Jake Johnson (Rtx); 3. Mike Hacker (ATK); 4. Dan Stanley (Rtx); 5. Shaun Russell (CCM); 6. Rich King (H-D); 7. Kevin Varnes (CCM); 8. Joe Kopp (KTM); 9. Chris Carr (Rtx); 10. Greg Teague (Rtx); 11. Jay Springsteen (H-D); 12. Kenny Coolbeth (KTM); 13. Bryan Smith (ATK); 14. Mike Varnes (Rtx); 15. A.J. Eslick (Rtx); 16. Willie McCoy (ATK). Time: 5 min., 16.915 sec.
Margin of victory: 00.845 sec.

By Scott Rousseau