Hayden Takes Springfield Short Track

| September 1, 2002
American Honda/Pro Honda Oils’ Nicky Hayden completed his sweep of the three rounds of AMA/Progressive Insurance U.S. Flat Track Championships racing to be held at the Illinois State Fairgrounds Rodeo Arena in 2002 last night.

Hayden, who won the Memorial Day Weekend TT and the short track in July, added the Labor Day Weekend short track to the list, his fourth win of the season making the reigning AMA Superbike champion the winningest dirt tracker of the season to date.

After battling with J.R. Schnabel to win his heat race, Hayden started off the 16 rider, 25-lap main event second, behind Memphis Shade/Parts Unlimited’s Kevin Varnes. He then drove around Varnes off turn two at the halfway point to take the lead, and easily pulled away to win by almost a full straightaway.

“It feels really great to come out here and do good on a track like this with so many great riders,” Hayden said. “I got a good start, and I got behind Kevin [Varnes], and the cushion went away, so we started to move down. I just started moving around and trying to figure a way to get by him, and it made it work. I love coming to Springfield. This place has been really good to me.”

Moroney’s Harley-Davidson/SuperTrapp rookie stud Jake Johnson came from well behind Varnes to pressure the Pennsylvanian late in the race. Johnson then shot around the outside of Varnes in turns three and four on the last lap to steal away the runner-up spot. Varnes was third, followed by Gardner Racing/Walters Brothers Harley-Davidson’s Bryan Bigelow and Team WE Racing/West Bend Harley-Davidson-backed Schnabel.

Reigning U.S. Flat Track Champion Chris Carr finished fifth aboard his Quality Checked Certified Pre-owned Ford Racing/David Liles Fuels-backed Vor, doing his series points lead little harm, as Bigelow and Varnes finished ahead of him, but also have further ground to make up in the title chase. Coziahr Harley-Davidson/Country Motors’ Johnny Murphree finished 12th, dropping him to third, behind Bigelow in the standings.

GRAND NATIONAL (25 laps; 16 riders): 1. Nicky Hayden (Hon); 2. Jake Johnson (Hon); 3. Kevin Varnes (CCM); 4. Bryan Bigelow (Hon); 5. J.R. Schnabel (Hon); 6. Tommy Hayden (Rot); 7. Chris Carr (Rot); 8. Kevin Atherton (Hon); 9. Joe Kopp (KTM); 10. Cory McDermitt (Hon); 11. Terry Poovey (ATK); 12. Johnny Murphree (ATK); 13. Shaun Russell (Rot); 14. Kenny Coolbeth (KTM); 15. Steve Beattie (Hon); 16. Jake Zemke (Hon).
Time: 5 min., 57.144 sec.

AMA/PROGRESSIVE INSURANCE U.S. FLAT TRACK CHAMPIONSHIPS SERIES POINTS STANDINGS (After 15 of 20 rounds): 1. Chris Carr (218/2 wins); 2. Bryan Bigelow (192/1 win); 3. Johnny Murphree (188/1 win); 4. Kevin Varnes (171/1 win); 5. Kenny Coolbeth (150); 6. Joe Kopp (128); 7. J.R. Schnabel (120); 8. (TIE) Nicky Hayden (117/1 win)/Jay Springsteen (117); 10. Jake Johnson (105); 11. Kevin Atherton (99); 12. Rich King (96/2 wins); 13. Terry Poovey (92); 14. Geo Roeder II (90); 15. Shaun Russell (88); 16. Chris Hart (69/1 win); 17. Shawn Clark (64); 18. (TIE) Steve Beattie (61)/Paul Lynch (61); 20. Willie McCoy (56).
Upcoming Rounds:
Round 16 – Springfield, Illinois, Sept. 1
Round 17 – Vernon, New York, Sept. 7

By Scott Rousseau