“To keep the number one plate I needed to go there and capture the points lead,” Poovey said. “I’m relieved with [the Sacramento] finish.”
Poovey also finished sixth in the 1stlegal Challenge.
One of the riders who came into California planning to dominate in his first Formula USA event of the year was Kevin Atherton. Coming off a major National win in the AMA series just one week earlier in New York. But Atherton’s night at the Sacramento Mile did not go as he had planned. While challenging Poovey for the lead with two laps to go in the Pro Singles final, Atherton’s 450cc Honda sputtered to the infield, out of fuel. In the earlier 1stlegal Super Single & Twin Challenge heat race, Atherton had started the race running in front of the pack, then slipped off the groove, going down and causing the race to be red-flagged.
After the restart, Atherton qualified for the LCQ, which he won, making it into the 1stlegal Super Single & Twin Challenge. While moving up through the pack to challenge the lead in the final, he once again slipped off the groove, but recovered, to go on to finish in 10th in the 1stLegal race.
Factory Harley-Davidson rider Rich King is recovering from a fractured should blade suffered in a crash at Vernon, New York, but an amazing ride had him challenging for the lead in the 25-lap Pro Singles National. Then at the halfway flags, King suffered a rear shock blow-out, causing him to be sidelined for the remainder of the Pro Singles main event.
J.R. Schnabel, came into Sacramento tied with Terry Poovey in the Pro Single National Championship point standings, but failed to make the main event.
“After practice I decided to ride my Rotax, which was the wrong decision after the track grooved-up,” Schnabel said. “I knew my Honda was faster, but I thought my laps times would be better on the Rotax. I certainly did not plan on not making the main event and then have Poovey take the win.”
In the 1st Legal Super Single & Twin Challenge, Schnabel got a fantastic opportunity, as he straddled Rich King’s Bill Werner-tuned factory Harley-Davidson ride after King opted to pass on this race. Schnabel was in a five-rider battle heading down the front straight for the checkered flag, only to come up short by a couple inches to finish second to Joe Kopp.
In a couple weeks the dirt track season will be over and Kopp will look back at 2002 as a season with highs and lows. One of those highs will be the Sacramento Mile. After winning the 1stlegal Super Single & Twin Challenge, then taking runner-up in the Pro Single National Championship, Kopp left Sacramento $16,400.00 richer after purse and contingency. He also jumped into a tie for second place in the Formula USA Pro Singles National Championship point chase.
Even Team Harley-Davidson’s Jennifer Snyder proved to be in top form, finishing fifth, just behind Bryan Smith and Willie McCoy in the Pro Singles main event.